Few flowers are as revered as the orchid.
They feel rare in that they aren’t the first flower you think of, but you’ve definitely seen one before.
Orchids come in punchy, dazzling colors and patterns but are delicate enough for even your most demure friend’s desk.
Due to their distinct nature, it’s no wonder that there are different beliefs about orchids in the cultures who have encountered them.
Because orchids have such a distinct shape, variety of color options, and delicate presentation, they’ve become a popular choice for tattoo enthusiasts who want something more feminine than the usual choices in the tattoo world.
Where do orchids come from, and what do they symbolize?
You don’t need to be an expert in flora and fauna to get an orchid tattoo, but understanding the history of the bloom and the symbolism behind the different colors can be a nice way to inform your choice.
Let’s dive into the beautiful, sensual world of orchids and orchid tattoos.
When you’re finished expanding your orchid knowledge, you can get some inspiration from our orchid tattoo gallery for maximum flower power.
Where Do Orchids Come From?
Despite an orchid’s delicate appearance, they are highly adaptable creatures and can grow in most environments, depending on the species.
The only continent in the world that doesn’t see orchids these days is Antarctica.
Originally orchids grew in tropical places such as Asia and Australia, The Philippines, or the Himalayas.
Though there are orchid species native to colder climates like North America, they were generally thought of as a tropical flower because of their bright colors and penchant for humidity.
This is part of why they are so highly coveted, orchids were originally only found by those native to the tropics, or those who had the budget to travel there.
Exclusivity is always a thing of beauty- it’s in our human nature.
Eventually people began importing the flowers, as people do with things they like, and now orchids can be found all over the world.
They are an interesting flower because in some ways they’re tough and adaptable, but in other ways they’re delicate and fussy.
Perhaps your orchid tattoo could speak to your own dual nature?
Because the orchid is so striking, a lot of people have had a lot of beliefs about them, how they function, what they symbolize, and what they mean.
This can be something to ponder while you design your orchid tattoo, what do orchids mean to you?
What does your love of orchids say about you? Here are a few ideas:
Sexuality and Fertility
For people who work regularly with plants, it’s easy to see why the orchid is associated with sex and fertility.
While most flowers hide their private parts, the orchid flashes its reproductive organs ostentatiously.
What’s more- when you dig the orchid up it has some virile looking roots.
The orchid gets its name from- “órkhis,” the Greek word for testicles.
In most orchid species, there are twin “tubers” at their roots.
These tubers have a bulbous appearance, much like testicles, and people couldn’t resist the comparison.
These tubers actually just hold onto nutrients for the orchid during sleepy seasons, but the original interpretation is a little more fun.
In fact in ancient Greece, the paternal figure in a household would eat large orchid tubers in an attempt to make a boy baby.
If the couple wanted a girl, the mother would eat small orchid tubers.
They may not have been successful, but tubers are highly nutritious!
An orchid is so bursting with sexuality, in fact, sometimes it impregnates itself.
This act of self-sufficient pollination could be symbolic for your orchid tattoo- maybe you’ve just done something extraordinary for yourself, or would like to in the future.
An orchid tattoo can remind you that not only can you do it alone, you can do it fabulously.
Power and Strength
The Aztecs made a drink out of the appropriately named vanilla orchids and cocoa beans to promote power and strength.
Kind of sounds like something you’d find in a hipster coffee shop, doesn’t it?
The Chinese philosopher Confucius had an affection for orchids.
He found them noble because they grew just as beautiful and emitted just as much fragrance no matter where they grew- in the palace as decoration or out on the fields by the side of the road.
An orchid tattoo can be your reminder to shine your light in the world and do good things, no matter who is watching or evaluating.
Do it for the good of doing it.
Orchid Color Symbolism
If you are looking to get an orchid tattoo, you may want to choose the colors according to their traditional symbolism.
There won’t be any consequences if you don’t, but it’s nice to have an art piece vibrate with the intention behind it in every way.
Luckily there are 25,000 to 30,000 species of orchids, so you have a lot of designs to choose from! Here are some guidelines to start with:
White Orchid Tattoos
White orchids represent elegance and purity.
Pink Orchid Tattoos
Unsurprisingly, pink represents beauty and femininity.
Get a pink orchid tattoo to embrace your feminine side, no matter what gender you are.
Purple Orchid Tattoos
Purple is a royal color because of how hard it once was to create purple ink, so only those who could afford it could wear it.
That, combined with the once-exclusive nature of the orchid, makes a purple orchid tattoo especially regal.
Orange Orchid Tattoos
Orange is such a sunny color, it’s no wonder it symbolizes vibrancy and boldness.
Yellow Orchid Tattoos
In the flower world, yellow traditionally stands for friendship.
Yellow orchid tattoos can also represent new beginnings, so they make the perfect friendship tattoo if you and a pal have been through something crazy together and come out the other end.
Blue Orchid Tattoos
Orchid Tattoo Designs
You can’t go wrong with floral tattoos, and orchids are so luscious and expressive.
Having trouble deciding on a color scheme?
Check out our orchid tattoo gallery for a gorgeous bouquet of body art!
Black & Grey Orchid Tattoos
The orchid is often revered for its delicate and unique shape.
Black and grey tattoos have an inherently romantic quality and are well suited to an orchid design.
If you want something with beautiful details that looks elegant and sophisticated, a black and grey orchid tattoo is a classic, respectable choice.
Watercolor Orchid Tattoos
Watercolor tattoos have been drawing art enthusiasts to the world of ink.
These designs often go without an outline, or have colors that splatter and bleed outside of one.
The finished result looks just like a watercolor painting.
Watercolor designs work for creative, expressive people, and anyone who loves color but doesn’t want something cartoonish.
Despite their splashy techniques, the artistic flair of a watercolor tattoo always looks classy.
We love a watercolor orchid tattoo for its artistic qualities and soft washes of color.
You’re a work of art, so adorn yourself with one.
Black-work Orchid Tattoos
Just because orchids are delicate looking, doesn’t mean they have to be drawn with a feather-light touch.
Black-work tattoos utilize negative space (or “skin breaks”) with large areas of highly saturated black ink.
The result is a high contrast piece that will take your breath away.
If you love the playfulness of a color tattoo but want to keep things monochrome for your orchid piece, black-work has all the creative flair you’re craving without all the fussy color.
Bonus, this tattoo will look great no matter what color you’re wearing.
Single Needle Tattoos
In single needle tattoos, your artist uses a pencil-like tattoo needle to create a delicate design.
Without the usual tattoo techniques, this style ends up looking like it was taken out of a sketchbook.
If you love the light ethereal qualities of an orchid, this is the best way to capture that essence.
Be sure you see a skilled, experienced artist for your single needle orchid tattoo.
These pieces are beautiful but require a steady hand.
In other techniques, a newer artist can “hide” their mistakes with line-work and shading.
In a single line tattoo, it’s all out in the open.
Illustrative Orchid Tattoos
As you can see, there are many designs that can fall under the illustrative tattoo category.
The main requirement for an illustrative orchid tattoo is that it looks like a drawing, not a photo.
But illustrative tattoos aren’t cartoonish, they’re more like classic paintings.
Because of its versatility, tattoo artists will use different techniques to show off their skills in this style.
Dot-work Orchid Tattoos
Dot-work, also known as the stippling technique, has a beautiful effect on a tattoo design.
For your dot-work orchid tattoo, your artist will use a series of dots with liners of varying widths.
This is not only appealing to the eye, but it creates smooth dynamic shading.
Dot-work gives your orchid tattoo piece some interesting texture, so it doesn’t just lay flat on the skin.
It’s a wonderful way to play up the velvety texture of the flower’s petals.
American Traditional Tattoos
American traditional tattoos are flat and 2D, with bold black outlines and large sections of deep, saturated color.
In an American traditional orchid tattoo, the design is from a bird’s eye view so you can see the details of the flower while the design remains “flat.”
These pieces are striking, simple, and pay homage to America’s roots in the world of tattooing.
Graphic Orchid Tattoos
With the fascination for orchids in the flower community, they almost take on a magical quality.
Graphic orchid tattoos usually incorporate geometric designs, taking on an alchemic aesthetic.
We love the juxtaposition of an organic living thing framed by more symmetrical lines.
The overall effect is both delicate and striking.
Graphic can be something of an umbrella term, and usually refers to contemporary effects and high visual impact.
It’s a unique choice for a floral tattoo, and you’ll definitely end up with something distinct.
Neo-traditional Orchid Tattoos
The Neo-traditional tattoo style was made for flowers.
It’s all about bold fills of organic colors and sensual curving lines, the very things we admire about flowers.
There’s so much that can be done to pay creative homage to an orchid because they’re such interesting flowers that come in a variety of dazzling colors.
There’s so much freedom of expression within the Neo-traditional tattoo style, we think it’s the perfect match for your orchid piece.
One Line Tattoos
If you want an interesting tattoo design without all the bells and whistles, consider a one line orchid tattoo.
A one line tattoo is exactly what it sounds like: artists have to create a recognizable image with just one continuous line.
It’s fascinating how recognizable a flower can be, even when it’s stripped down to just the bare essentials.
Realistic Orchid Tattoos
If you want to celebrate an orchid exactly as it is without making any wild creative choices, a realistic tattoo is your best bet.
Realistic tattoos are basically portrait tattoos done in a painterly style.
A realistic orchid tattoo is a wonderful tribute to everything gorgeous about this flower, exactly as it is.
Contemporary Orchid Tattoos
The tattoo industry is home to all kinds of innovative techniques, and as more young artists join the flock, there will always be a new style to discover.
“Contemporary” is an umbrella term that encompasses modern and interesting approaches to tattooing.
A contemporary orchid tattoo can be bold, fresh, and unlike anyone else’s ink.
Ask your artist what new and exciting skills they’ve been refining lately.
You may end up with something you never could have imagined for yourself.
Orchid Tattoo Ideas
You can’t go wrong with floral tattoos.
They’re timeless and classic.
Styles may change over the years, but flowers will never go out of style.
Orchid tattoos are a less common design, and truly stunning in the hands of a gifted artist.
But you may still be wondering how best to honor this beautiful bloom.
To help get your inspiration flowing, we’ve compiled some of our favorite orchid tattoo ideas.
Simple Orchid Tattoos
Orchids are elegant in their simplicity, and your tattoo can play to that sophistication.
As much as we love a big, splashy, colorful floral design, sometimes the most daring move is to keep it simple.
Large Orchid Tattoos
If you like spotting celebs with tattoos on the red carpet, take a look at Actress Kristin Bauer van Straten.
She loves to show off her large orchid tattoo.
The piece cascades down her shoulder, an homage she chose for its classic and feminine look.
Orchids can be recognizable without much detail, but there’s so much more to explore with a large orchid tattoo.
The bigger the tattoo, the more fun your artist can have with color, shading, and dimension.
Orchids are the showstoppers of the floral world, so there’s no reason they shouldn’t be just as grand in tattoo form.
Small Orchid Tattoos
Many of today’s young millennials and gen z kids are drawn to small and even micro tattoos.
These looks are delicate, gorgeous, and good for the gram.
There is some debate in the tattoo community about this.
Do small tattoos age well?
That’s been the main sticking point with these little tattoos.
The answer is yes and no.
For a successful small tattoo, you need to choose a design that works with a small tattoo format.
And, most importantly, an artist who is experienced enough to create something that will age gracefully.
You may need to get your small orchid tattoo touched up over time, but that’s true of most ink.
Ghost Orchid Tattoos
Cattleya Orchid Tattoos
Orchid Tattoos Placement
Orchid Tattoos on Forearm
If you don’t mind your tattoo being visible, wear your orchid on your sleeve.
The forearm is a great canvas for an orchid tattoo.
Orchids grow lengthwise, so having a long canvas makes sense for them.
Forearm orchid tattoos can stretch across the entire area, or stay compact for a cute little pop of design.
The long curvaceous lines of an orchid can be incredibly sensual, and what better placement for them?
Bask in the beauty of a floral hip tattoo.
Orchid Tattoos on Shoulder
Orchid Tattoos on Wrist
Orchid Tattoo Artists
For more floral tattoos, go to:
Orchid Tattoo FAQ
An orchid tattoo can remind you that not only can you do it alone, you can do it fabulously. Also, an orchid tattoo can be your reminder to shine your light in the world and do good things, no matter who is watching or evaluating.
White: White orchids represent elegance and purity.
Pink: Unsurprisingly, pink represents beauty and femininity. Get a pink orchid tattoo to embrace your feminine side, no matter what gender you are.
Purple: Purple is a royal color because of how hard it once was to create purple ink, so only those who could afford it could wear it. That, combined with the once-exclusive nature of the orchid, makes a purple orchid especially regal.
Orange: Orange is such a sunny color, it’s no wonder it symbolizes vibrancy and boldness.
Yellow: In the flower world, yellow traditionally stands for friendship. Yellow orchids can also represent new beginnings, so they make the perfect friendship tattoo if you and a pal have been through something crazy together and come out the other end.