All About Hydrangeas: Name, History & Symbolism

| Wendy Han

All About Hydrangeas: Name, History & Symbolism


Hydrangeas are a truly unique genus of flowers with a rich, fascinating history—spanning almost 23 million years. They have a remarkable appearance with large clusters of tiny, delicate flowers of soft petals in a range of colours of pinks, blues, purples and whites. With unmistakable pom-pom-like blooms, they make ideal picks for grand flower arrangements, home table centerpieces or single stalk bouquets.

What are the different types of hydrangeas? 

There are five different types of hydrangeas and a total of 70-75 different species. The five different types include: bigleaf, smooth, panicle, oakleaf and climbing. The most common type is the bigleaf hydrangea, also called the florist’s hydrangea—a popular pick with florists and a common choice in bouquets and floral arrangements for weddings.


All About Hydrangeas - Name, History & Symbolism


Across the different types and species, hydrangea flowers take on a variety of different forms. A bigleaf mophead and lacecap—both hydrangeas—can look very different! Mopheads have large, round flowerheads, while lacecaps, mother nature’s very own answer to a bouquet, have fertile flower buds in the middle with a ring of larger, thin-petaled flowers encircling them.

The colour of hydrangeas is affected by the type of soil it grows in. When grown in more acidic soil, its petals are a cool blue, and when in more neutral soil, either pink or red. The magical candle variety is particularly notable, with flowers that change their colours throughout the year. 

What’s in a name?

Hydrangea’s name has its roots in the Greek language: “hydra” meaning water, “angos” meaning jar—which can be roughly translated to water vessel. This is fitting for two reasons: the shape of this flower’s seeds, and its need for large amounts of water. Hydrangeas are a thirsty variety of flowers and need generous watering to thrive and bloom well.

Its more archaic name, Hortensia, was first named after French astronomer and mathematician Nicole-Reine Hortense Lepaute. In Latin, Hortensia means “of the garden”, and now also refers to a specific selection of bigleaf hydrangea. 

Tracing history & migration of hydrangeas

This flowering species is native to Eastern Asia, specifically Japan, China, Korean, and the Americas. Swedish botanist and physician, Carl Peter Thunberg, brought a handful of plants back to Europe from Asia in the 18th century, effectively plotting a new course for the Hydrangeas, allowing it to take root in a new continent. The moderate temperature and wet climate of these regions have allowed it to also thrive and blossom there. 

Symbolism: what do they represent?

Hydrangeas have come to take on a range of different meanings over the centuries, from being a symbol of remorse, gratitude and honesty in Japan, to arrogance and vanity in Europe. The colour of the hydrangea flowers also connote meaning: pink to declare sincere love, blue to convey apology or appreciation and white to symbolise purity and grace.


All About Hydrangeas - Name, History & Symbolism


Legend has it that in Japan, when politely declining a suitor’s advances, blue hydrangeas were sent as a heartfelt apology, softening the blow of rejection. The very same flowers sent in Europe, amongst Victorians, were a way of telling someone they were cold and frigid without actually saying it.

Today, these beautiful blooms have largely shed their old meanings and have come to simply be associated with celebration and grandeur. They’re normally used in flower arrangements or sent in congratulatory bouquets during weddings, anniversaries or baby showers. However, occasionally they’re still used in apology bouquets.


All About Hydrangeas - Name, History & Symbolism


Buying Hydrangeas in Singapore 

Whether you’re buying blue hydrangea flowers to say you’re sorry or buying pink ones to declare your heartfelt love, it’s the perfect flower for you. Delight a partner or a friend with these exquisite flower bouquets. Floristique is the best place for all your fresh flower needs: order online from a range of irresistible hydrangea selections or speak to one of our friendly Singapore florists to find a bouquet that suits what you’re looking for. Wherever you live in Singapore,  we can deliver some gorgeous hydrangea blooms straight to your doorstep!

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