Discover the fascinating folklore and symbolism behind popular houseplants. From spider plants removing negative energies to lucky bamboo bringing good fortune, explore the enchanting connections between plants, literature, movies, and culture. Delve into the captivating world of houseplant folklore and uncover the rich tapestry of stories and beliefs that surround these beloved green companions.


Have you ever wondered about the fascinating folklore and legends associated with houseplants? While we often admire their beauty and enjoy their presence in our homes, there is a rich tapestry of stories and symbolism woven into the history of these plants. From ancient beliefs to modern cultural significance, houseplants have captured our imagination and become an integral part of our lives.

In this article, we will explore the intriguing world of houseplant folklore and delve into the fascinating connections between books, movies, and culture. We will uncover stories, myths, and superstitions surrounding popular houseplants, and discover how they have influenced literature, film, and various cultural practices. So grab your favorite indoor plant, settle in, and let’s embark on a journey through the enchanted realm of houseplant folklore.

Houseplant Folklore and Symbolism

Houseplants have long been cherished for their aesthetic beauty, but they also hold deep cultural significance across different societies and traditions. Let’s explore some popular houseplants and the folklore associated with them:

  1. Spider Plants: These lovely green plants with cascading leaves are believed to possess the power to remove negative energies from homes. In addition, spider plants symbolize fertility and prosperity, making them a popular choice for households.

  2. Lucky Bamboo: Associated with good fortune, happiness, health, and strength, lucky bamboo is frequently used in Feng Shui practices. It is often gifted to bring luck and positive energy into homes and workplaces.

  3. Snake Plants: Also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, snake plants are believed to symbolize good health, cleanliness, and positivity. They are known for their ability to purify the air and bring a sense of tranquility to any space.

  4. Devil’s Ivy: Donning heart-shaped leaves that gracefully drape downwards, Devil’s Ivy is associated with various positive attributes such as perseverance, wealth, good fortune, and eternity. In some cultures, it is believed to offer protection against negative energies.

  5. Prayer Plants: These plants, named for their unique leaf movements resembling folded hands in prayer, are associated with gratitude and reflection. They remind us to be mindful and appreciative of the beauty of life.

  6. Swiss Cheese Plant: With its distinct perforated leaves, the Swiss cheese plant is believed to symbolize longevity, respect, and honor. It is also known as Monstera deliciosa and is highly valued for its striking appearance.

  7. Orchids: Orchids have long been revered for their exquisite beauty and symbolize love, beauty, and luxury. In many cultures, they are associated with elegance and grace.

  8. Heartleaf Philodendron: This trailing plant, with its heart-shaped leaves, carries symbolic meanings of abundance, love, and good health. It is a popular choice for adding a touch of greenery and warmth to any living space.

  9. Chinese Money Plant: This unique plant, also known as Pilea peperomioides, is associated with wealth and good fortune. Its round, coin-shaped leaves are said to bring financial prosperity to its owner.

  10. Majesty Palm: With its graceful fronds that resemble a crown, the Majesty Palm is often linked to peace and abundance. It adds a touch of tropical elegance to any room.

  11. Peace Lily: As the name suggests, the peace lily is a symbol of peace, purity, positivity, and enlightenment. It is also known for its air-purifying properties, making it a popular choice for indoor spaces.

These symbolic meanings and beliefs attached to specific houseplants may vary across different cultures and traditions. However, they reflect the deep-rooted connection between plants and human culture, highlighting our desire to imbue our surroundings with positive energy and significance.

Houseplant Folklore in Literature

Books have long served as a means to preserve and pass down stories, legends, and cultural beliefs. Several authors have explored the enchanting world of houseplants and incorporated their folklore into their works. Here are a few notable books that delve into houseplant folklore and showcase the magical significance of these plants:

  1. “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben: Although not exclusively focused on houseplants, this book offers a captivating exploration of the interconnectedness and unique lives of trees. It sheds light on their hidden rituals, communication, and teachings.

  2. “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer: This poetic and insightful book weaves together indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and personal experiences. It explores the sacred reciprocity between humans and the natural world, including plants and their cultural significance.

  3. “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren: While primarily centered around the author’s scientific journey, this memoir delves into the passion and connection she feels with plants and the natural world. It highlights the beauty and resilience of plant life and the profound impact it can have on our lives.

Houseplant Folklore in Movies

While there might not be a plethora of movies that specifically focus on houseplant folklore, plants often play significant roles in cinema. They symbolize life, growth, and the connection between humanity and nature. Although not centered around folklore, the presence of plants in movies evokes a sense of wonder, beauty, and occasionally even fear. Here are a few movies where plants take center stage:

  1. “Little Shop of Horrors” (1986): This cult classic musical comedy horror film features a man-eating plant named Audrey II. It explores themes of greed, desire, and the consequences of selling one’s soul for success.

  2. “Jumanji” (1995): While not solely focused on plants, this adventure fantasy film features a magical board game that brings the lush and wild world of Jumanji to life. The jungle plants and vines play a crucial part in the thrilling escapades of the characters.

  3. “The Happening” (2008): Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, this psychological thriller centers around an unexplained phenomenon where plants release toxins, causing people to commit suicide. While not a positive portrayal of plants, it showcases the potential dangers of disregarding the natural world.

While these movies might not directly delve into folklore surrounding houseplants, they highlight the enduring fascination with the botanical realm in storytelling and its ability to captivate audiences.

The Cultural Significance of Houseplants

Houseplants not only hold personal significance for individuals but also play an essential role in various cultural practices. Whether it is using specific plants in religious ceremonies or incorporating them into artistic representations, different cultures have unique relationships with houseplants. Here are a few examples:

  1. In Chinese culture, indoor plants like bamboo and orchids are believed to bring good luck, prosperity, and harmony. These plants are often gifted during important occasions and festivals.

  2. Hinduism connects several plants, such as the sacred Tulsi plant, with blessings and spirituality. Tulsi is considered a holy plant and often grown in courtyards or near temples.

  3. Native American traditions include the use of various plants, such as sage, cedar, and sweetgrass, for smudging and purification rituals. These practices are believed to cleanse and protect the spirit.

  4. Mediterranean cultures often associate the olive tree with peace, wisdom, and longevity. Olive branches are commonly used in religious ceremonies and symbolize reconciliation.

These examples highlight the diverse ways in which houseplants are woven into the cultural fabric of different societies, offering a glimpse into our collective reverence for and interaction with the natural world.


Houseplants have a rich and enchanting history steeped in folklore and symbolism. From their association with prosperity and good fortune to their ability to purify the air and create a sense of tranquility, these plants have become an integral part of our lives. Although not extensively explored in literature and film, houseplant folklore has found its way into captivating books and movies, reminding us of the profound connection between plants and human culture.

As you continue to nurture and enjoy your houseplants, take a moment to appreciate the stories and legends they carry with them. From ancient beliefs to modern cultural practices, houseplants are a testament to our enduring fascination with the natural world. So the next time you water your spider plant or admire the leaves of your peace lily, remember the rich tapestry of folklore that accompanies these beloved household companions.


  1. Flower and Plant lore (94 books). (n.d.). Goodreads. [^1]
  2. Folkard, R. (n.d.). Books by Richard Folkard. Goodreads. [^2]
  3. Books about Plants – Folklore (sorted by popularity). (n.d.). Project Gutenberg. [^3]
  4. Plant Symbolism & Spiritual Meanings Of The Most Popular Houseplants. (n.d.). YourTango. [^4]
  5. Celebrating garden myths and superstitions. (n.d.). Alabama Living Magazine. [^5]

[^1]: Flower and Plant lore (94 books). Goodreads. []
[^2]: Folkard, R. Books by Richard Folkard. Goodreads. []
[^3]: Books about Plants – Folklore (sorted by popularity). Project Gutenberg. []
[^4]: Plant Symbolism & Spiritual Meanings Of The Most Popular Houseplants. YourTango. []
[^5]: Celebrating garden myths and superstitions. Alabama Living Magazine. []