Iris Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Irises are some of the most unusual and widely admired flowers which are grown across the world for their unique beauty. 

Because of their huge following, there are nearly countless varieties, which come in nearly every color combination you can think of. They really require very little care in order to thrive, and they produce some of the most amazing flowers, year after year.

Irises are often connected to royalty, but that’s only scratching the surface of the meaning behind this beautiful bloom.

What does ‘Iris’ Mean?

In Greek mythology, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow, and the messenger of the gods. The rainbow itself was both her robes and her visual path across the sky.

The Greeks saw the iris flower as a continuation of her veil, and these gorgeous blooms were planted to bring good luck to the earth, and to honor iris. 

What does the Iris Flower Symbolize?

Regardless of color, the iris traditionally carries associations of bravery and royalty. Because of its religious links, the flower is also used as a symbol of hope, good luck, wisdom and faith. 

There are other meanings as well, which depend on the cultural lens you’re looking through, and the type of iris. 

As the name refers to the goddess of the rainbow, it’s only fitting that the different color blooms have different meanings attached to them.

What does a Purple Iris Symbolize?

Purple irises stand for royalty, and are often given to someone as a symbol of their ‘otherworldly’ qualities, bringing a message of appreciation and respect. 

Purple irises also carry the meaning of gratitude and wisdom. 

What does a Blue Iris Represent?

Blue irises, which are probably the most famous, are often used in religious events. These vivid blooms embody devotion, faith, and hope.

What does a White Iris Mean?

White irises have similar connotations to that of most white flowers, divinity, remembrance, purity, innocence, and hope. 

What does a Yellow Iris Represent?

Yellow flowers usually embody friendship, good luck, and appreciation for someone, or affection without the romantic undertones. 

Yellow irises are beautiful and unusual, so it stands to reason that their symbolism doesn’t match the norm. These gorgeous flowers represent passion, both for life, and in romantic terms. 

What is the Cultural Significance Behind the Iris?

Iris flowers were represented to be the ‘bridge’ between divinity and human existence. 

In Ancient Greek tradition, irises were planted at gravesites, as it was thought to attract the goddess, who would lead the departed to heaven. Interestingly, though they are a symbol of death in this way, they don’t lose the belief of bringing good luck.

Ancient Egyptians also planted the iris flower in abundance, in their palaces. These flowers were a connection to the heavens. 

In France, irises were a favorite symbol of wealth, and carried the connotations of power and royalty. 

The fleur-de-lis, which is a symbol that’s been adopted all over the world as a heraldic symbol among other things, is a yellow iris. 

What does an Iris Flower Tattoo Mean?

Irises aren’t as popular a motif as roses or peonies when it comes to tattoos, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t as beautiful or as symbolic. 

It can be chosen purely for its aesthetic value, or simply be an appreciation of the flower and how beautiful nature is, or the meaning can be more profound. 

Iris tattoos represent hope, bravery, faith, and wisdom.  It can also symbolize someone important who represents these qualities. 

As irises come in a whole rainbow of colors, this provides more scope with the meaning, as careful color choices can influence the meaning of the tattoo, making it more important. 

It’s also the birth flower of February, and can represent someone important in your life who is a February baby. 

When Should You Give Someone Iris Flowers?

Irises can be given as bulbs, fully-grown plants. Also, you can cut irises directly from the plants themselves. (If it isn’t your plant, please get permission first. It’s very bad luck and very rude to do this otherwise!) 

To prolong the life of the flowers you cut, have a jug full of water ready before you cut the flower from the plant. This will greatly reduce how quickly the plant will wilt. You can also add a small amount of white vinegar to the water, which helps prolong the flower’s life. 

Irises are also often included in flower arrangements, and they can convey the respect or the love you hold for someone, without feeling like a cliché. 

As they are very unusual flowers, you can also use them as a message of how much you value the unique qualities of the person you’re giving the irises to. 

They brighten up and add a memorable gift to any occasion you can think of, and unlike some flowers, there’s no “wrong” occasion to give iris flowers to someone. 

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