Does a Hydrangea Flower Have Special Meaning?
These flowering shrubs have been beloved by gardeners throughout history. Learn if hydrangeas have meaning and the message each color sends.
Significance of Hydrangeas Throughout History
Around the world, differing hydrangea colors carry symbolic meaning, ranging from arrogance to earnest apology. But these flowers also have a fascinating history.
Given their prominence in our gardens and weddings, you might assume hydrangeas are a North American plant and this is partially true. In fact, fossilized remains of hydrangeas date back to prehistoric times, and oakleaf and smooth hydrangeas are native to North America. However, other types of hydrangeas originated in Japan. There, hydrangeas received mentions in poems all the way back to 710 A.D.
From Japan, the hydrangea made its way through much of Asia and the world. Hydrangeas eventually wound through the West thanks to the East India Company, whose traveling merchants transported several species of the Japanese flowers back to their home countries with them.
Since they have such an extensive history in Japan, it’s no surprise hydrangeas are held in high regard there. They’re a staple of many stunning Japanese gardens during the rainy season in June and July.
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Pink Hydrangea Meaning
Grow an Endless Summer hydrangea for weeks of blooms.
Blue Hydrangea Meaning
Courtesy Gregory Vinyard
If you need a flower to say you’re sorry, your best choice is a blue hydrangea. According to legend, a Japanese emperor once apologized for neglecting a woman he loved by gifting blue hydrangeas to her family. As such, the blue flowers have become associated with remorse, affection and gratitude.
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White Hydrangea Meaning
In sharp contrast, white hydrangeas aren’t quite so beloved. While white typically connotes purity or innocence, white hydrangeas can also have unpleasant associations like arrogance, boastfulness, and insincerity. Why? Look to history for a good answer. In Victorian Europe, suitors were known to give white hydrangeas to women they’d fallen out of love with. As one superstition went, women who grew white hydrangeas were unlikely to marry.
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Purple Hydrangea Meaning
Think of purple hydrangeas as blue hydrangeas’ happy-go-lucky cousin. They have all the kindheartedness without the “I’m sorry” connotation, so they’re perfect for showing a friend or family member how much they mean to you. As with many purple flowers, they also carry associations with royalty and leadership.
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Hydrangea Tattoo Meaning
If you’re thinking of getting a flower tattoo as an eternal symbol of your love for these popular garden blooms, a hydrangea tattoo is an excellent choice. While you might not want to go with a white hydrangea tattoo if you’re looking for lasting romance, other colors are associated with gratitude and thankfulness.
Next, discover the best hydrangea bush for every yard and growing condition.