Hydrangea Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Hydrangeas have been part of gardens for centuries, bringing an array of color and height to any garden.

These prolific blooms have captured people’s attention and imagination for nearly as long as they’ve been around, and they have some interesting symbolism attached to them.

What does Hydrangea Mean?

The name Hydrangea comes from the Greek word hydria, which translates to ‘water vessel’, which describes the shape of the seed pods.  

What does a Hydrangea Flower Signify?

Hydrangea flowers carry several meanings, which change according to the color of the flower, and different cultures have different symbolism.

As a single bud on a hydrangea bush can produce a huge cluster of flowers, they often represent beauty and grace. 

They also symbolize abundance and gratitude, but for some people, they’re too over the top, so this flower can also mean narcissism. 

Broadly, hydrangea flowers are tied to forgiveness and understanding, but again, this depends on the color, and the context of the culture. 

Hydrangeas will also change color (see also Hydrangea Grow Guide) depending on the pH of the soil, and this is most often true of the blue, red, and pink hydrangeas.  

What does a Blue Hydrangea Represent?

Blue and pink are usually the most common colors a Hydrangea can be found in. Blue represents inspiration, stubbornness, forgiveness, regret, or even rejection.

What does a Pink Hydrangea Symbolize?

Pink hydrangeas have the more positive meanings of love and affection.

What does a Purple Hydrangea Mean?

Purple hydrangeas symbolize prosperity, and wanting to get to know someone better.

What does a Green Hydrangea Flower Symbolize?

Green hydrangea flowers represent good luck, rebirth, and renewal. They’re a good idea for anyone that needs a break, or a fresh start. 

What does a White Hydrangea Mean?

White hydrangea flowers, well, aren’t really a nice message. Giving someone a white hydrangea flower can signify that you think they’re arrogant, or you’re sick of them boasting, or that they’re very self-centered.

I guess it’s a good option if you want to insult someone or be very passive-aggressive, and you probably will get away with it, unless they find this article!

What is the Cultural Significance Behind the Hydrangea?

In Japan, the hydrangea carries a lot of symbolism. It represents enduring love, though one that could not be realized. 

In the Edo period, a German doctor named Siebold lived in Nagasaki for a while, where he fell in love with a Japanese woman, Otaki.

Unfortunately, he was expelled from Japan, and taking the hydrangea back with him, he named the flower ‘Otakusa’ in honor of her. This flower also represents resilience, as it blooms during the rainy season in Japan without problems.

In terms of superstition, some people believe that hydrangeas can ward off evil, so the bark is scattered around homes to ward off malicious wishes.

In the language of Victorian flowers, the hydrangea has a mainly negative meaning. 

Because the blooms of a hydrangea are so prolific and perhaps even too over-the-top, these flowers were often sent to people who liked to boast a little too much, and could even be sent to tell someone to change their ways. Sounds a little ominous. 

In China, hydrangea flowers symbolize love and enlightenment. 

Because the hydrangea blooms are made up of so many tiny flower clusters, the eye can ‘get lost’ within the flower, which is said to promote inner reflection, which leads to enlightenment. 

What does a Hydrangea Tattoo Mean?

While hydrangeas can have negative meanings, this is not the reason they are included in tattoos. 

Hydrangea tattoos usually represent gratitude, grace, and spiritual wisdom. It’s also an appreciation of nature. 

Hydrangea tattoos also symbolize living freely and being able to express how you feel, without worrying about what other people may think of you or how you handle your emotions.

Hydrangeas in tattoos also symbolize being in tune with your instincts and inner wisdom, something you rarely ignore in favor of other people’s opinions or feelings. 

When Should You Give Someone Hydrangea Flowers?

Hydrangeas are an appropriate gift for any occasion. Because they come in so many shapes and colors, there’s one for nearly every reason you can think of.

They’re usually given as thanks, where you don’t have the words to say how much they mean to you, or a gesture they’ve made particularly struck a chord with you, and you want to make sure they know exactly what it meant to you. 

Hydrangeas are also good apology flowers, as each tiny bloom which helps make up the huge globe of a hydrangea flower can represent a different reason or emotion, a heart-felt reason.

Although, you may want to include a note with your flowers or mix them with other blooms which have similar meanings, just to make sure the meaning you intend is the one the other person gets!

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