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Hydrangea Meaning and Fun Facts

The Hydrangea is originally a marsh or aquatic plant due its high water needs. A popular outdoor plant, the Hydrangea grows large, showy clusters of blooms that make wonderful cut flowers. The Hydrangea meaning is closely tied to a Japanese legend involving the flower.

Hydrangea Meaning and Fun Facts

Hydrangea History

It’s believed the Hydrangea originated in Japan, and is now widely grown in most parts of Asia, as well as being popular in North America. The name is actually derived from the two Greek words “hydros”, meaning water, and “angos” meaning jar. This is a nod to the high water needs of the plant to remain healthy.

One of the primary Hydrangea meanings is steeped in a Japanese legend. According to the tale, the Emperor of Japan gave Hydrangeas to the family of the girl he loved as an apology for neglecting the girl in favor of business. In Japan the flower is still the symbol of heartfelt emotion and apology.

On the other end of the emotion spectrum, those during the Victorian Era gave a negative connotation to the showy flower. Hydrangea symbolism was that of bragging and vanity. 

It’s not surprising that the Hydrangeas’ beauty has influenced the creative works of artists. Berthe Morisot’s painting, “The Hydrangea”, is one of these creations. 

Modern Uses for the Hydrangea

The Hydrangea is the official flower to celebrate a 4th wedding anniversary. An addition to its beauty, the Hydrangea also has uses in the medical and beauty industry. As a treatment, the Hydrangea is used to help with urinary tract infections, enlarged prostate, kidney stones, and to reduce hay fever.

In the cosmetic industry, Hydrangeas are used in hair products because they contain resin, which strengthens hair and builds the body. 

Hydrangea Meaning

The primary Hydrangea meaning is influenced by the Japanese legend of heartfelt emotion, and gratitude. Secondary Hydrangea symbolism is carried over from the Victorian culture and associates boastfulness and vanity with the showy flower. These negative emotions are rooted in the plant’s growth habit, which is big, showy blooms that produce very few seeds. This lends a sentiment of someone being “all for show” but with little lasting results.

At one time it was popular to give Hydrangeas to someone who had turned down your romantic advances to convey the sentiment of that person being frigid and cold. Thankfully, this seems to be an outdated practice.

Hydrangea Flower Meaning By Color

Hydrangea Flower Meaning By Color

As with most flowers, the specific bloom color carries with it secondary meaning. Yet, unlike other flowers, the scope of sentiments attached stay fairly constant to the primary meaning.

Pink Hydrangea: This is the color that conveys heartfelt emotion. Give this flower to a significant other or someone who is very important to you.

Blue Hydrangea: This color of Hydrangea still has the negative frigidity association but also is the color to convey an apology. 

White Hydrangea: Boasting and bragging is what white Hydrangeas symbolize. 

Purple Hydrangea: When you give someone the purple Hydrangea it is believed you’re trying to better understand that person. 

The beautiful Hydrangea has, unfortunately, been saddled with some negative sentiments. That being said, the flower remains popular in the garden and still makes a statement in a flower arrangement. If you’re worried about the message you’re sending, stick with the pink or purple versions.

Hydrangea Meaning FAQ

Is the Hydrangea Considered Toxic?

Yes, the Hydrangea is toxic to pets and should be kept away from them.

Do Hydrangeas Trigger Allergies?

The Hydrangeas’ pollen is very sticky and not easily dislodged by the wind. For this reason, the Hydrangea is less of an allergy trigger than most flowers of its size. 

Can You Change the Color of the Hydrangea Flower?

Yes, pink Hydrangeas can be encouraged to turn blue by increasing the acidity of the soil the plant is growing in. To increase the soil’s acidity, add coffee grounds or citrus peel to the soil and work in well around the roots. 

What Types of Blooms Does the Hydrangea Have?

There are three main types of blooms that Hydrangeas produce. The popular mophead bloom is the type most seen with the large clusters of small blossoms. The Lacecap bloom is a mix of small and large blooms in one cluster, and the Panicle produces cone-shaped clusters. 

Do Hydrangeas Have Petals or Sepals?

Hydrangeas actually have sepals, which are small leaves that protect the flower’s bud. These sepals often begin as green, then change to the traditional bloom color of pink, blue, white, or purple.