Top 7 Flower Symbols and their Meanings in the Philippines

Flower symbols play a very important role in every nation. They are used extensively  since the dawn of human civilization. They are given on special occasions, holidays, tribute from birth to death.

Here are the Top 7 favorite flower symbols and their meanings in the Philippines and why gardeners and hobbyists grow them.

milflores flower

1.)  Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) locally known as milflores, in reference to the thousands of minuscule clusters of flowers.This was introduced to the country during the Spanish colonial era and a very soulful flower, which symbolizes heartfelt emotions. Some use it to convey gratitude for being understood, express friendship and devotion.

They are planted in higher elevations like Tagaytay, Silang, Lipa, Baguio, Bukidnon and others areas. They are quite popular during weddings and debuts. The flower color changes  depending on the alkalinity or PH level of the soil.

roses are rich in symbolism

2.) Roses locally called Rosas.  There is a single local species which are extensively grown during the Spanish area until early this century in which local taxonomist identified the species as Rosa philippinensis Merr., which is endemic in the Philippines.

The symbolism of roses colors is steeped in tradition. Deep red color means romance intense love and true love. The local flower markets and suppliers would  import roses during Valentines day and All Saint’s Day  from other countries like Colombia, Ecuador and Netherlands since local growers could not supply the large demands during these occasions.

The larger varieties are extensively planted in Benguet, Tagaytay, Cavite, La Trinidad,  Batangas and even some parts of Mindanao.

pitimini roses flower

Smaller varieties are called pitimini roses which are cheaper and are grown extensively in garden centers of Silang, Tabang, Guiguinto and elsewhere. They are normally used for landscaping purposes and more hardy in lowland conditions.

Dendrobium nobile flower hybrid

3.) Orchids. This is most highly coveted of flowering plants, the delicate, exotic and graceful orchid represents love, luxury, delicate beauty and strength. In ancient Greece, China, Japan and Korea, orchids were associated with fertility. In the Philippines, some tribes even worship and have special rituals during blooming season of these rare orchids.

Some examples are Waling-waling which is revered as ” Queen of Philippine Orchids”, Phalaenopsis sanderiana is called ” Salapung” by native tribes of Mindanao .

Aerides quinquevulnera variety farmeri

Another flower is known to have sacred rituals performed by virgin priestess from Babuyan and Calayan islands in Cagayan province . They are named ” Flower of the Sacred Sleep ” or Sangguy-yep-yep (Aerides quinquevulnera variety farmeri ) or Aerides magnifica variety alba reclassified by some taxonomists early part of this century  .

There is a big demand for cut-flower orchid types that the country imports orchids from Thailand, Malaysia , Taiwan and even Hawaii to meet the local demand.

sampaguita flower

4. ) Sampaguita  (Jasminum sambac ) or Arabian jasmine. They were introduced via India or mainland Southeast Asia by Arab and Indian traders before the arrival of the Spaniards in the Philippines . The origin of the name is believed to come from the Indian and Malay words “sinasamba kita ” eventually the word became “sampaguita ” which roughly translated  “I worship you.” In pre-hispanic Philippines , there is widespread practice and custom among the natives to offer flowers to deities and unseen spirits. This practice was carried over when the Spaniards came thru their religious statues and festivals.

Sampaguita is considered as flower of love in many Southeast  Asian countries. It is also the national flower of Indonesia and the Philippines. It was proclaimed as national flower via Proclamation No. 652 issued by American Governor-General Frank Murphy on February 1, 1934.

In the Philippines, the flowers are widely used as garland in welcoming foreigners, VIPs, graduating students as a form of bestowing honor, veneration and accolades. In weddings and religious ceremonies, it symbolizes love, devotion, purity and divine.

Buds strung into ropes several meters long are often used to decorate formal events such state occasions. The flowers are extensively used in adoring beautiful carrosas and churches during Flores de Mayo. There is also a dance named after the flower.

It also has double petals variety called “Kampupot”. This is much sought after because the flowers are larger compared to the ordinary sampaguita varieties.  This flowering plant is grown through cuttings.

Extensive sampaguita plantations were developed in San Pedro, Laguna, Pampanga, Bulacan and in backyard gardens all over the country.

anthurium flowers

5.) Anthurium  name originated from the Greek word ” anthurium” meaning “tail flower.” The heart shape leaves is normally given on special occasions. Anthurium is also given during Valentine’s day when one is courting someone.

Potted anthurium is also a popular gift for people recovering from illnesses  – the flower means simply irresistible and healing.  This is extensively planted in some farms in Laguna, Batangas, Benguet, Tagaytay, Silang and Quezon provinces.

Flower symbols also vary from the colors and varieties of this flowering plant.

hibiscus or gumamela flower

6.) Hibiscus or Gumamela – There are different species and colors of Hibiscus in the country.  The flower symbolizes happiness and celebration.

Gumamelas have a lot of hybrids that were imported from Hawaii, Malaysia, Thailand. There are also locally bred hybrids from University of the Philippines. They are easy to propagate . Aside from the common single petal flowering varieties, there are also double petaled varieties.


7.) Santan or Ixora coccinea The flowering plants are normally planted near the entrance of one’s house. People believe that  the blooming santan can ward off evil spirits and is a good luck plant when grown in large numbers. Flowers are also offered to young maidens which symbolizes the burning passion for their career and love.

Recently , there is growing trend among bonsai hobbyists to use them as material for bonsai. This plant is easily grown through cuttings.

Rence Chan

writer and contributor

social media writer, food lover, heritage advocate, philatelist , deltiologist , numismatist , notaphilist , toy collector, key chain collector, bibliophile , orchid fancier , plant lover , environmental advocate, freshwater aquarium fish hobbyist, tour consultant, memorabilia and art connoisseur.