Flower power

A beautiful floral arrangement is more than just a stunning centrepiece for your home. TAN MIN YAN discovers the powers a simple bloom possesses.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
A beautiful floral arrangement is more than just a stunning centrepiece for your home. TAN MIN YAN discovers the powers a simple bloom possesses.

Flower alchemist Katie Hess seems just a little reluctant to share how she does what she does.

Katie made a name for herself with her floral apothecary business Lotus Wei, for which she harnesses and then bottles the essences of flowers into floral elixirs. These supposedly have incredible healing powers when ingested or inhaled. 

What started out as a small business sharing custom-blended flower remedies with a handful of private clients more than a decade ago has since blossomed into one with a full range of elixirs, mists, serums, perfumes and oils that ship worldwide. Celebrities such as Carrie- Anne Moss and Johnny Depp are apparently fans. 

I meet up with the US-based Katie when she’s in town to promote her publishing debut, Flowerevolution, an interactive guidebook on her readings of 48 different flowers and what they reveal about the psyche of the people who pick them.  

To quote from the book, she thinks that “...flowers can spark us to reach our greatest potential – one that is likely bigger than we can even imagine... By tapping into flowers and their elixirs, we have a method at our fingertips that helps us be our happiest, clearest and most loving selves.” 

What I really want to know, though, isn’t how flowers can help us become just that; to me, the more pressing question is, how does she know what each flower can do? 

“This may sound a little strange, but I sit with the flower, do a little meditation, and ask the plant what it does,” she explains. 

“I take notes and make an essence out of it. I bring this to an initial small group of about 10 people who are familiar with essences, and then a larger group of about 150 people. The former may [be] told what the flower is, but nothing else. The latter gets to see photos of it and a basic idea of what it’s for. 

“For both groups, each tester spends at least one month ingesting the flower essence. From there, we gather feedback on how it makes him or her feel over time. This process helps me to ensure that whatever I perceive matches with what people feel. To date, I have readings for approximately 200 flowers.” 

Through her own experience and hundreds of her clients’, she has discovered that these flower elixirs have effects ranging from inducing better sleep to enhancing confidence, and boosting personal growth and evolution. Stories of those who found the courage to leave abusive relationships, managed to eliminate negative thoughts about themselves and discover renewed energy after using the elixirs are recounted in Flowerevolution.

It all sounds a tad too good to be true, and this, perhaps, is the reason for her initial reluctance in sharing. After all, she has encountered plenty of sceptics in her years as a flower alchemist – though she seems far from fazed by the scepticism. 

“I welcome healthy scepticism and in fact, I encourage it,” she says. “I always recommend that people try things for themselves, because the only way to truly know if something works is through personal experience.”  


Beyond these elixirs, Katie’s ultimate aim is to highlight the positive effects of flowers on the human psyche. And her products and book are her tools to kick-start this so-called “flower revolution”.  

She cites a study led by professor Daniel Eric at the University of Bristol, which found that bees are actually attracted to the energy given off  by flowers, not to their fragrances or colour. 

She calls this phenomenon “sympathetic resonance”, and uses the following situation to explain the term in her book: “...if you go to a party with lots of people you don’t know, there are some people you want to move closer to, meet, and talk with – you resonate with them – and there are others you prefer not to engage with.” 

When we’re stressed or feel out of sync with our surroundings, she says, “sympathetic resonance” can help retune our minds and bodies.

It also clues us in to our state of mind. “You will always be attracted to what you need most at the moment,” Katie points out. “So you may think you buy flowers based on how they look, but you’re actually craving whatever quality the flower possesses.” 

In other words, the more you find yourself “resonating” with a particular flower, the more accurately it reflects your state of mind and what’s bugging you. From there, you can take the necessary steps to adjust your lifestyle or attitude.  

Sceptical, I give Katie’s readings in Flowerevolution a shot. I find myself particularly drawn to the soft, rounded petals and gentle pink hues of the Hollyhock, and according to the book, it’s because I’m feeling “hopeless” about a certain aspect of my life. “Perhaps your heart has hardened, since you believe there’s nothing you can do to change the situation,” it stated. Um, how did you know?! 


You don’t have to buy into Katie’s elixirs or book – she encourages people to harness the power of flowers themselves. It’s as simple as visiting Gardens by the Bay, buying cut flowers for your room, or just hanging up pictures of flowers on the wall. 

“Studies have shown that by just looking at an image of a flower, you feel different,” Katie says. “When you spend too much time with technology or work too hard, you become overstimulated. You start to crave being in nature and once you’re there, you feel better.” 

It can’t get any easier than that.