Orchid Fans Will Love This Sweet White House Tradition
Fifteen first ladies have orchids named after them.
The First Lady of the United States has many responsibilities. She must play hostess for social events, opening the White House to world leaders, staff, political allies, and rivals. She oversees state dinners and other official events, and greets the public at joyous amd and solemn occasions. She also must stand by her husband during ceremonies, accompany him on trips around the world, and engage with foreign leaders. Plus, they oversee renovations, seasonal decorations, and of course, choose the White House china pattern.
Since Eleanor Roosevelt raised the bar during her time in the White House, modern first ladies are also expected to champion particular social projects or causes. Lady Bird Johnson fought for the environment, Michelle Obama focused on childhood obesity, girls' education, and military families, Laura Bush promoted books and education, and Jackie Kennedy focused on historical preservation of important architectural buildings.
WATCH: Jackie Kennedy Completely Renovated The White House's “Prince of Wales” Suite
Luckily, with all that hard work come a few perks and one of the sweetest is the tradition of naming orchids after the First Ladies.
The tradition started back in 1929, when Manda’s Orchid Co. in New Jersey, created a Cattleya orchid hybrid and named it for Lou Henry Hoover, Herbert Hoover’s wife. Since then each First Lady gets a new Cattleya orchid hybrid named after them. While Manda’s has since gone out of business, the so-called FLOTUS orchid tradition has continued.
Now, there are elegant orchids named after Hoover, Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, and Nancy Reagan. Recently, Chadwick and Sons Orchids continued the FLOTUS orchid tradition by naming Cattleya orchids after the four most recent administrations – Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Barbara Bush – and personally presented the flowers to the honored recipients. According to Better Home and Gardens, after the company picked up the torch, Chadwick even went back to create namesake orchids for Lady Bird Johnson and Eleanor Roosevelt who missed the honor when they were in the role. The unique orchids, which take seven years to go from seed to flower, are all listed on the International Orchid Register.
One of Chadwick’s latest creations was an orchid named after First Lady Melania Trump. It recently took top honors at the American Orchid Society’s competition. The Rlc Melania Trump is a fuchsia-colored hybrid Cattleya orchid, the SCMP reports. The beautiful specimen earned the Orchid Society’s coveted HCC (Highly Commended Certificate) award.
If you want to visit the FLOTUS orchids, they are kept at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.