hibiscus symbolism

Hibiscus Flower Meaning and Fascinating Symbolism

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Pay a visit to the island of Hawaii, and you’ll see these gorgeous flowers everywhere. They are growing in the forest, along pathways, and can even be found adorning women’s hair. Hibiscus flowers are the epitome of tropical beauty and are best grown in hot, humid climates. 

Found growing in places like Haiti, Malaysia, South Korea, India, and of course, Hawaii, hibiscus flowers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. All, however, have five petals around a tall, stalked center – and all are surrounded with deep symbolic meaning.

Hibiscus flowers grow best in full sun and are typically found in warm places (like USDA zones 5 or warmer). Though they have a short vase life, they are cultivated as indoor plants in many parts of the world. 

Most importantly, these tropical plants have a deep flower symbolism that you should know about if you want to unlock the true meaning of these short lived flowers.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned gardener, growing and caring for hibiscus plants will reward you beautiful blooms year after year.

What Does Hibiscus Mean?

The word “hibiscus” translates almost perfectly to the Greek word “hibiscus,” which means mallow. Since the hibiscus plant is in the mallow family, this makes a lot of sense. The plant’s scientific name is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis but can be referred to as simply hibiscus. 

It is also frequently called tropical hibiscus, Hawaiian hibiscus, rose mallow, shoeblackplant, China rose, and Chinese hibiscus, too.

These flowers first received their name from the botanist and Roman army doctor Pedanius Dioscorides. 

Overall, the hibiscus flower is a versatile and meaningful symbol with a wide range of interpretations and symbolic meanings across many cultures. In some cultures, hibiscus represents delicate beauty and femininity, while in others, it symbolizes unity and harmony.

There are many hibiscus varieties, each comes with different colors.

From Victorian England to Ancient Egypt, the hibiscus flower meaning has long held deep spiritual meaning. It’s prized in Greek mythology, Hawaiian culture, Chinese culture, and many other cultures for its ability to signify specific meanings like feminine beauty, personal power, and more. 

The color of the hibiscus flower can also convey different meanings, with red representing love and passion, while pink symbolizes friendship and joy.

What Does a Hibiscus Symbolize?

Hibiscus flowers are considered very feminine. Therefore, they are usually given to women. In North America, hibiscus flowers are used to symbolize the perfect woman or wife. Otherwise, the meaning of the flower varies depending on its color and the culture in which it is given.

There are several hibiscus color meanings. This tropical flower can mean anything from delicate feminine beauty to power. Let’s take a closer look at what the hibiscus flower symbolizes based on color.

hibiscus flower meaning
Red hibiscus photo by chack1983/depositphotos

What Does a Red Hibiscus Mean?

The red hibiscus flower symbolizes passion and deep romantic love. The color red is often used to represent feminine beauty and true love around the world. It can showcase a romantic relationship status and isn’t typically given as a representation of platonic love. 

Instead, this red flower holds significant meaning as a representation of female energy and deep love. It’s a special color that showcases all that the gorgeous hibiscus bloom has to offer.

Give a bouquet of red hibiscus blooms to your romantic partner, and you’re sure to impress.

What Does a White Hibiscus Mean?

White is a common hibiscus color, and, as with many white flowers, a white hibiscus is most commonly seen to symbolize beauty, purity, and femininity. 

The color pink, again, represents feminine beauty and female power in many different cultures. However, the pink hibiscus flower is more often given to a close friend, family members, or another platonic loved one rather than a romantic partner. This hibiscus color meaning is a bit more innocent! 

What Does a Yellow Hibiscus Symbolize?

Yellow hibiscus flowers are most commonly associated with good luck and good fortune, but can also symbolize sunshine and happiness. The yellow species of this plant is often given to a friend.

What Does a Pink Hibiscus Symbolize?

pink hibiscus flower

Pink hibiscus flowers are commonly given to little girls. They can be used to symbolize friendship and many kinds of love (including romantic love, but also other kinds of love, like platonic or familial love).

The color pink, again, represents feminine beauty and female power in many different cultures. However, the pink hibiscus flower is more often given to a close friend, family members, or another platonic loved one rather than a romantic partner. This hibiscus color meaning is a bit more innocent! 

What Does a Purple Hibiscus Symbolize?

Purple hibiscus flowers are usually associated with royalty or the upper class, as many purple flowers are. They can also be used to symbolize knowledge and mystery.

The purple hibiscus flower meaning is one that is tied more closely to the gods. Viewed as a celebration flower, it is used to symbolize power and the omniscient existence of gods. It can be used to symbolize the deity Ganesha in Hindu mythology but it also makes the perfect gift to any friend or family member as well. 

What is the Cultural Significance of a Hibiscus?

The national flower of Haiti, hibiscus flowers are also highly revered in Hawaii. They are the official state flower of Hawaii despite the fact that they are not native to Hawaii.

As Hawaii’s state flower, the hibiscus has  become the national symbol for this place. Both yellow and red hibiscus flowers have been used as the state flower here.

These delicate, beautiful flowers are often viewed as a symbol of young women and their beauty. In Victorian times, giving someone a hibiscus flower usually meant that the giver was acknowledging the delicate beauty of the recipient.

However, in China, hibiscuses symbolize the fleeting nature of fame and personal glory. Here, the flowers are given to men and women alike.

Hibiscus flowers have long been prized for their medicinal and culinary applications. They can add color and flavor to a variety of herbal teas and also contain a high level of vitamin C. 

These tropical plants were not just the perfect gift but also used as treatments to lower blood pressure, fight the common cold, and balance primordial energy, among other purposes. 

There are many hibiscus landscape ideas that you can follow to include this flowering plant in your home and garden.

What is the Symbolism of a Hibiscus Tattoo?

Often, people get a hibiscus tattoo to symbolize their respect for the state of Hawaii. However, the hibiscus flower tattoo can also symbolize things like friendship, passion, love, and desire, so it’s not out of the question for someone to choose a hibiscus tattoo for one of these reasons, either. 

When Should You Give Someone a Hibiscus?

Hibiscus flowers, depending on their colors, are appropriate for just about any occasion. They have short lives, but are commonly given to symbolize fame, youth, and beauty. They are perfect flowers to help you enjoy beautiful moments that may be only fleeting – but nevertheless add a touch of tropical elegance to any occasion. 

If you’re interested in floriography, check our language of flowers dictionary.

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