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Orchids for the Pope: The focus is on cymbidiums as Easter decorations

Main arranger Paul Deckers choosing tall cymbidiums with yellow blossoms. – Photo:

Each year in April thousands of Catholics flock to Rome to celebrate Easter together with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square. These images are transmitted all around the world on TV. Dutch producers and dealers have traditionally been commissioned with the lavish flower and plant decorations for the event since 1985.

This year the Dutchman, Paul Decker, is once again responsible for the designs. After consultation with the Vatican he chooses the colors of the flower decorations. In 2018, cymbidiums, a genre of the orchid family, are going to be the focus of the arrangements. “Cymbidiums symbolize friendship and love. This is why these strong and robust flowers suit Easter perfectly,” said Deckers. “We will use green blooming cymbidiums for the stairway in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral, where the Pope will celebrate the mass. Green is the color of hope, it emanates tranquility and peace. Of course, the color yellow can’t be missing from the Easter service either. It is the classic spring color and stands for light and joy. So, we will use tall, wonderful cymbidiums with yellow flowers in meter-high arrangements.”

In the past cymbidiums were among the most popular orchids. However, over recent years they have been superseded by phalaenopsis. In the winter months the magnificent panicles of the cymbidiums start stretching out of the dense, green clusters of leaves. Up to twelve centimeters large blossoms are found on the strong stems. Cymbidiums are not only offered as potted plants in retail outlets, but also as cut flowers. These orchids easily keep for three weeks in a vase.

At the moment the planning and preparations for the Easter Mass on 1 April 2018 are in full swing. Previous to this, over 25 arrangers and florists will spend two whole days working on the plant decorations on-site. A massive sea of flowers is to adorn the stairways of St. Peter’s Square again this year. In addition to cymbidiums, meter-high trees, thousands of Avalanche roses, delphiniums, rose lilies and over 40,000 flower bulbs are to be implemented. Traditionally, the Pope says thank you for the work and the flowers after the blessing “urbi et orbi”.

Due to the annual decoration of St. Peter’s Square at Easter, international attention is attracted to flowers and plants from Holland. The entire Dutch ornamental plants sector participates in this special form of marketing – including Royal FloraHolland.


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