Phlox Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Phlox flowers have fallen out of fashion in recent years, but they are enjoying a resurgence with the popularity and dual use of the traditional cottage garden plants. 

Their abundance of vivid flowers in both a creeping form and as an upright plant in a kaleidoscope of color is only one of the beautiful features of this plant. 

Another is that nearly all kinds of phlox are heavily perfumed, and the fragrance changes depending on the surrounding temperature. It gets stronger when the temperature gets warmer.

But the beauty of the phlox isn’t just on the surface. There’s a lot of symbolism attached to these delicate-looking flowers, too. Here’s everything you need to know. 

Behind The Name: What does ‘Phlox’ Mean?

Phlox translates from Greek to ‘flame’, referring to the highly-pigmented flower, as bright as a flame in color. The plant is sometimes labeled by its common name, flame flower. 

Phlox refers to a genus of both perennial and annual flowers, and this group makes up 67 species in total. Most are native to North America.  

Before Linnaeus had officially named and classified the plant under the genus, it was named lychnidea, which is Greek for lamp. 

The Symbolism Behind Phlox Flowers

Phlox flowers have quite a lot of symbolism behind them. While the meaning of each flower changes with the color, there is some overarching symbolism to be aware of. 

Because the flowers grow in clusters at the top of the plant, the phlox is associated with companionship, getting along so well that you seem ‘made for each other’, harmony, and love. 

As quite a few phlox blooms are bi-colored, these flowers carry the symbolism of both colors.

Red Phlox Flower Significance

Red flowers typically signify passion and desire, and this meaning is even more significant when it comes to the phlox. 

Red phlox flowers signify the rarity and luxury of getting on so well with someone it almost seems like you knew them in another life.

Pink Phlox Flower Meaning

Pink phlox, like most pink flowers, refers to the great affection you hold for someone, and while this may not be romantic affection, it has a significant power all of its own.

White Phlox Flower Symbolism

White phlox blooms represent grace, innocence, commitment, faithfulness, and honesty.

Purple or Blue Phlox Significance

Both purple and blue phlox signify wisdom, understanding, finding a sense of safety in someone, spirituality, and love that lasts a lifetime. 

Cultural Significance of the Phlox Flower

There is also a lot of cultural significance behind the phlox flower across different cultures, adding more interest to this enigmatic, perfumed bloom. 

Greek Myth

In Greek mythology, Odysseus and his sailors traveled to the underworld, where they had to discard their torches. 

When the extinguished torches hit the ground, they changed into red phlox flowers, which is probably where the older name for phlox, lychnidea comes from.

Traditional Medicine

Phlox flowers have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine. Many Native American tribes would use blue phlox to treat digestive problems, the leaves would soothe skin complaints, and the roots of the plant were used as eyewash. 

The Middle Ages

Phlox flowers had an interesting role in the Medieval period, where they were worn by knights. 

These knights would remove the flowers from their clothes and give them to the ones they loved at the end of an evening.  

Phlox Flower Festivals

The phlox is celebrated in at least three different flower festivals, usually in Spring. 

In Greater Tokyo, a festival called Fuji Shibazakura takes place, where creeping phlox makes up an impressive carpet, consisting of hundreds of thousands of flowers, making the perfect foreground for Mount Fuji.

Victorian Language of Flowers

To the Victorians, the phlox was one of the most popular flowers used in bouquets. It was a traditional, public expression of devotion and love, unlike many flowers used in the Victorian flower language with much more subtle, or even secret meanings. 

What does a Phlox Flower Tattoo Mean?

Phlox flower tattoos usually signify a deep connection with someone in your life, someone who you would be entirely lost without, while also having a beautiful and unusual aesthetic.

The meaning can also depend on the color. White, blue, or purple phlox flowers in a tattoo can be a commitment to faith, knowledge, or honesty, as well as someone special.

Red phlox flower tattoos embody a romantic connection with someone, or part of your life which is filled with love and passion.

When Should You Give Someone Phlox Flowers?

Phlox flowers are suitable for any occasion, and their myriad of symbolism means that combining them with different flowers is a good way of making sure the message you want to give doesn’t get lost in translation.

With their uplifting fragrance and array of vivid colors, when given as a gift, phlox flowers are a sign of encouragement or well wishes. 

They are also perfect for confessing your feelings for someone, especially if you struggle to find the right words, as the phlox can do all the talking for you.

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