Hearts, stars, and horseshoes, clovers and blue moons. Nearly every culture has its own good luck symbols, including lucky plants. When needing some help in the luck department, many of us reach for a four leaf clover or lucky bamboo, but did you know sage and rosemary are also considered good luck? It makes me consider baking some sage-rosemary chicken to see if I’ll have better luck not burning down my kitchen.
Four Leaf Clover: Commonly associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the four leaf clover is a popular symbol of good luck; it’s even one of the Lucky Charms’ marshmallows. There are over 300 different species of clover, but the one most associated with the lucky fourth leaf is the white clover (named for its white blossoms). Fun facts: finding a four leaf clover is an estimated 1 in 10,000 chance and finding a five leaf clover is a 1 in 1,000,000 chance. Possibly the luckiest man in the world, Shigeo Obara holds the Guinness World Record for the most leaves on a single clover stem by discovering a 56 leaf clover in 2009.
Lucky Bamboo: One of the most popular lucky plants, bamboo is known for being indestructible (unless you’re like me and have already managed to kill 3). The number of stalks in each arrangement means something different. The most common arrangements use three stalks, which is said to promote happiness. Eight or nine stalks are meant to bring the owner luck, but you will rarely see an arrangement of four stalks because it’s considered bad luck in both Chinese and Japanese cultures. When purchasing, check the roots (if you can) to make sure they are still in-tact. Stocks sold in very small containers meant for replanting may have crowded or broken roots, meaning your new plant is doomed from the start. If you are growing bamboo using twist ties to alter the stalks into a pattern, make sure to loosen the ties as the bamboo grows or you’ll choke the stalk. For an additional list of indestructible plants, read our post on plants for black thumb gardeners.
Money Tree (Chestnut Tree): This is a popular indoor plant used in feng shui decorating for attracting prosperity into the home. Well known for its braided trunk and for being black-thumb friendly, it’s best to use a container with drainage holes to avoid root rot. Size ranges from the miniature bonsai to ten feet tall depending on the size of the pot.
Lucky Peepal Tree (Fig Tree): A symbol for happiness, prosperity, longevity, and good luck, this tree is often found around Buddhist shrines. It can grow up to 98 feet with a trunk diameter of 9.8 feet, but there are also natural dwarf varieties, making it one of the most popular trees for indoor bonsai. However, if you’re allergic to bees, this may be an unlucky symbol instead as it tends to attract bees along with butterflies and birds.
Banana Tree: The leaves of the banana tree are used in many Hindu festivals. Some believe banana trees bring wealth, happiness, and bless couples with a good marriage. But these trees are not considered to be good luck everywhere. Ghost stories in some regions of Asia tell of vengeful ghosts who use the stepped trunk of the banana tree like a staircase, and walk across the leaves to reach second story windows. While not bad luck by themselves, it’s considered bad luck to have one planted near a house.
Basil: A versatile herb you can grow hydroponically, basil is used in tea, many Italian food recipes, and Irish soda bread. When grown in the house, some people think it will bring luck, wealth, and beauty. Even if you don’t believe in the luck of the Irish, basil is a great houseplant because it’s known to repel flies and pesky mosquitos.
Rosemary: There are several old wives tales circulating about rosemary. While some people think it’s good luck to receive, but bad luck to grow, others say to “plant rosemary by the door for luck; smell [it] to remember.” In Suffolk County, England a rosemary bush in the garden is said to repel witches and goblins.
Sage: Though more commonly used for cooking, some cultures burn sage for good luck or wisdom with regards to big decisions. It’s also thought to protect against or reverse any bad luck caused by the “Evil Eye.” There’s some folklore about sage granting wishes, but I’m hesitant to count that as good luck since you must be careful what you wish for.
Peace Lily: Southern Living considers the peace lily “the perfect houseplant,” stating they are one of the easiest houseplants to grow and offer nearly year-round bloom. Whether you believe in luck or not, keeping peace lilies promote good health by removing toxins from the air. NASA scientists found them capable of reducing formaldehyde, benzyne, and dust. They don’t need direct sun, so they also make good office plants for cubicle dwellers not near a window. Even if you’ve got a black-thumb, err on the side of under-watering rather than over-watering this tranquil vegetation. Just like your light bulbs, peace lilies need to be dusted once a year. Just wipe the leaves with a damp towel as part of your spring cleaning to help them photosynthesize better.
Honeysuckle: Like the banana tree, honeysuckle is surrounded by controversy. While some believe growing it in the garden brings wealth and prosperity, it’s an old wives tale in England that bringing it into the house carries death inside. Its reputation even made the 1982 Survey of Unlucky Plants performed by the London Folklore Society.
Roses: Look around on Valentine’s Day and there’s no question that roses are a symbol of love, but did you know some are thought to be good luck? Each color rose has a different meaning. White roses represent innocence, yellow ones are for friendship, while both coral and orange roses are considered good luck. Remember that the next time you bring an actor flowers and tell him to “break a leg.”
Were you surprised by any of the plants on the list? Let us know if you think we left something out or if there’s a good luck plant that is special to you or your family. You can also share your pictures and stories, or let us help you with your plant growing woes on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Never fear, there are green-thumbed people here to answer your questions.