These 15 First Ladies Have Orchids Named After Them
If you love orchids, you will be so excited about this presidential tradition. Here's the story of how the FLOTUS orchids came to be.
Orchids have become symbols of beauty and elegance and are among some of our favorite flowering houseplants. Their waxy foliage and brightly-colored petals are unmistakable, and they add a touch of luxury to any room. These plants have rich American history, too: They've been a part of a presidential tradition dating back 90 years!
Since 1929, new cattleya orchid hybrids have been created for each First Lady of the United States. Nicknamed ‘FLOTUS’ orchids, the tradition started with Lou Henry Hoover, Herbert Hoover’s wife. Manda’s Orchid Co. in New Jersey, which no longer exists, was the company to start creating these new orchid varieties for First Ladies.
Related: How to Care for Orchids
Chadwick & Son Orchids, Inc. in Virginia picked up the tradition in the 1980s and has created a namesake cattleya for the last five First Ladies. After picking up the FLOTUS flower torch, Chadwick also filled in gaps in the timeline: both Eleanor Roosevelt and Lady Bird Johnson had not been given an orchid at the time of their First Ladyship, so he created them posthumously. Their relatives had the honor of receiving these orchids as a gift.
These First Lady orchids aren’t your typical orchid, either—each Chadwick hybrid takes seven years to bloom from seed. They're also not limited to official FLOTUS: Orchids are selected specifically to honor each potential First Lady when presidential candidates are announced every four years. This means that in their greenhouse, Chadwick & Son has orchids for candidate spouses like Teresa Kerry, Tipper Gore, and Ann Romney.
All of the First Lady orchids are housed at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. and have been submitted and registered with the Royal Horticultural Society. Rhyncholaeliocattleya ‘Melania Trump’ has even gone on to win awards with the American Orchid Society.
First Ladies With Namesake Orchids
- Lou Henry Hoover
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Bess Truman
- Mamie Eisenhower
- Jackie Kennedy
- Lady Bird Johnson
- Pat Nixon
- Betty Ford
- Rosalynn Carter
- Nancy Reagan
- Barbara Bush
- Hillary Clinton
- Laura Bush
- Michelle Obama
- Melania Trump