Hibiscus Flower Meaning, Spiritual Symbolism, Color Meaning & More

When the petals of the hibiscus flower start to open, you’re in for a real treat. There are few flowers with quite the immediate splendor and beauty of the hibiscus. Most commonly found in tropical environments, the hibiscus is quick to blossom, fades fast, and comes back just as bright.

Hibiscus Flower Meaning

It’s easy to see the symbolic link between beauty, femininity, and the hibiscus. The large petals have a strange delicacy to them, while the protruding stalks are instantly eye-catching. Typically brightly colored, in tropical countries the hibiscus is a symbol of welcome.

The hibiscus has a fascinating cultural history, and a symbolism that echoes today. With meanings of femininity and love, the hibiscus can make a wonderful gift. To learn more about the hibiscus and its uses, as well as some tips on growing, take a look at this complete guide.

What Does The Hibiscus Flower Mean?

Beautiful and vibrant, you’re likely to be pleased with a gift of the hibiscus flower. And when you find out the meaning behind the hibiscus, you’ll be even more charmed. The hibiscus flower is typically given as a symbol of beauty, femininity, and love. 

A tropical flower that enjoys the heat, the hibiscus flower is well-loved for its incredible and showy flowers. When the hibiscus comes into bloom, everyone stops to take notice. But as quickly as the flowers come, they fade away. The hibiscus flower can bloom for as little as a single day. 

The hibiscus flower is closely associated with tropical destinations, and it’s a symbol of enduring beauty. 

Etymological Meaning Of The Hibiscus Flower

The common name for hibiscus has survived since the days of the Ancient Greeks, who called this plant ibiskos. Ibiskos means “marshmallow”, and was given to the plant Althaea officinalis, which had been used to make marshmallows!

The name hibiscus can be traced back to Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek physician known for writing De Materia Medica (On Medical Material). 

Hibiscus is also sometimes known as the rose mallow, or the rose of Sharon.

Symbolism Of The Hibiscus Flower

Eye-catching and distinctive, it’s no wonder that the hibiscus has become such an interesting symbol. Flowering only for a day or two, these brief blooms are difficult to forget, and impossible to ignore.

The hibiscus is an undeniably beautiful flower, and it’s often used as a symbol of beauty. Blossoming briefly, the hibiscus attracts adoration for its incredible display of color and delicacy. It’s easy to see why this is a flower that attracts and symbolizes adoration of beauty.

Femininity is also symbolized by the hibiscus flower. The delicate spread of petals, with their gentle rippling and fascinating coloring, are symbols of all things feminine. The hibiscus is typically given to women, in appreciation of their charm.

But the short-lived hibiscus can also be used to symbolize the fleeting nature of things. In China, hibiscus is frequently used as a symbol of fame, and how quickly it can fade.

In Hawaii, the hibiscus flower has a great deal of symbolism. The yellow Hibiscus brackenridgei is the state flower of Hawaii, and is frequently used to symbolize hospitality and welcome. Hibiscus leis are heavily prized, and the blossoms are sometimes used to symbolize beauty.

A hibiscus flower tucked behind a lady’s left ear was a symbol she was in a relationship. If the hibiscus was tucked behind her right ear, she was single.

Hibiscus Flower Color Meanings

As with so many flowers, the symbolism of the hibiscus can vary depending on the color of the petals. Hibiscus flowers can be quite striking in their coloring, which makes it all the more important to pay attention to the shade.

The white hibiscus is used to symbolize purity, and innocence. This often relates to a pure beauty, and sometimes to femininity. A white hibiscus may be a gift for a young woman or girl.

The pink hibiscus is a symbol of friendship, and non-romantic love. It’s given as a gift of caring, and to show a special bond of platonic love. A gift of pink hibiscus should be given to make a friend smile, and to show your appreciation of them.

Love is also symbolized by the red hibiscus, but this is a romantic love. Red hibiscus is used to symbolize passion, and is a wonderful gift on Valentine’s Day, or an anniversary. As the hibiscus blooms so quickly, a gift of red hibiscus shows special care and consideration. 

Purple is a color typically associated with royalty, and the purple hibiscus is no different. It’s also used as a symbol of wisdom. A gift of purple hibiscus shows respect for a person. You might give it to someone you look up to, or a person you feel influences you greatly.

Finally, the sunny yellow hibiscus. This joyful flower represents happiness and friendship, as well as welcome. The yellow hibiscus should bring a smile to the face of any recipient. 

Meaningful Botanical Characteristics Of The Hibiscus Flower

A tropical plant, the bright and wild colors of the hibiscus are best enjoyed in the warm sunshine. But for those living in colder climates, the hibiscus can still be a lovely addition to your yard. Look for the hardy hibiscus instead of the tropical hibiscus, and bring it indoors over winter. 

The hibiscus flower blossoms briefly. In a day or two, the flower is gone. But a new one quickly comes along to replace the old one, which means that the hibiscus can be in flower for quite a long time.

The quick bloom and speedy replacement has helped the hibiscus be seen as a symbol of beauty. The hibiscus may lose its flowers frequently, but it is always beautiful. 

Once the flower has become spent on the hibiscus, you need to pinch it off. This will encourage new buds, and keep your hibiscus looking vibrant. Water and sunlight are also important. The hibiscus must be watered frequently to keep it flowering. When it starts to dry out, it produces fewer flowers.

Sunlight is another essential factor. Hibiscus is typically found in tropical environments, so it needs sunlight to thrive. Although they can flower in dappled sunlight, the hibiscus much prefers at least two hours of sunlight per day. Without this, you won’t get those spectacular hibiscus flowers. 

Hibiscus Flower Meaning

Special Occasions For The Hibiscus Flowers

A symbol of beauty and femininity, the hibiscus flower is typically given to women. But everyone can enjoy the hibiscus flower, and it looks fantastic in all kinds of arrangements.

If you’re looking to give a declaration of love, the red hibiscus indicates passion. They make a stunning alternative to roses as a Valentine’s Day or anniversary gift. But they can (and should) be given year round! A bouquet starring red hibiscus can be used as a declaration of feeling.

Pink hibiscus, on the other hand, symbolizes friendship. An arrangement featuring pink hibiscus can be given as a birthday gift, or as a show of appreciation for someone special. Purple hibiscus can also be used to show appreciation, especially if it’s for someone you look up to.

The delicate white hibiscus is closely associated with purity. For a young woman, this is a lovely gift.

And yellow hibiscus, a symbol of welcome and joy, should be given in celebration.

In Fiji, the week-long hibiscus festival is held every year in August. The main event is the crowning of the winner of the Miss Hibiscus beauty pageant. The Hibiscus festival is a celebration of beauty, and of the unique culture of Fiji. 

Hibiscus Flowers Cultural Significance

Many cultures across the world have placed a special significance on the hibiscus. This is particularly true in Hawaii. The hibiscus is the national flower of Hawaii, and is used to symbolize welcome and beauty. Hibiscus is sometimes used to make leis – ornate flower garlands – although hibiscus leis are quite rare.

If you see a woman in Hawaii or Tahiti with a hibiscus flower behind their ear, it may be a symbol of their romantic status. A hibiscus behind the left ear traditionally indicated a woman in a relationship, and if it was behind the right ear, she was single.

In Hinduism, red hibiscus flowers are associated with the goddess Kali. The hibiscus and Kali are often depicted together in artworks, sometimes merging into a single form. A fierce protector, the vibrant red of the hibiscus represents the strength of the goddess. An offering of hibiscus can be made to Kali. 

Several states and countries, such as Haiti, have adopted the hibiscus as the national symbol. The Solomon Islands and Niue both use the hibiscus as the national flower, and the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia. In South Korea, the Hibiscus syriacus is the national flower. 

Hibiscus Flower Facts

Like the large blooms, the hibiscus can be a big plant. Surprisingly, some species of hibiscus are trees, and can grow up to 15 feet tall.

The trumpet shaped flowers of the hibiscus are distinctive for their colorful petals and the protruding pistil and stigma. 

The hibiscus very rarely has a scent, and only a few species produce a light floral smell. But they still attract plenty of butterflies and hummingbirds. Many choose to plant the hibiscus to attract hummingbirds to their yard.

The Hibiscus syriacus is the national flower of South Korea, and even gets a mention in the national anthem.

In many parts of the Caribbean, a glass of hibiscus tea, known as sorrel, is a traditional Christmas beverage. Brewed with hibiscus, ginger, sugar, and spices, the drink is served chilled.

Hibiscus cannabinus, otherwise known as kenaf, can be used to make paper. The fibers of the Hibiscus tiliaceus can be used for rope making, and the building of canoes.

In some parts of Asia the hibiscus is known as the shoe flower. This unusual name comes from a popular use for the petals — they’re used for polishing shoes.  

Hibiscus Flower Uses

Hibiscus tea is drunk in many parts of the world, and is enjoyed for its tartness and rich coloring. Hibiscus sabdariffa is steeped in hot water, and can be served warm or cold. This tea is traditionally brewed in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Drinking sour hibiscus tea has been shown to potentially lower blood pressure. 

The flowers of the hibiscus are also edible. Dried and sometimes candied, the hibiscus flower is typically used as a garnish on a dessert. The roselle, or hibiscus sabdariffa, can also be eaten. It’s often used as a vegetable in the Philippines. 

Hibiscus is also a popular ingredient in hair care and cosmetics. The red of certain hibiscus flowers can also be used as a non-permanent hair dye. Hibiscus is said to soften the skin, and provide an even glow. 

But the most popular use of the hibiscus flower is decoration. The hibiscus is an incredibly beautiful flower, with bold coloring and curled petals.

It’s also quite a hardy plant, and can adapt to a variety of growing situations. Because of this, the hibiscus is frequently used to bring visual excitement to gardens. 

Hibiscus Flower Meaning

What Is The Symbolism Of A Hibiscus Flower Tattoo?

The distinctive shaping of the hibiscus makes for an instantly recognizable tattoo. Those who are from Hawaii, or feel a special connection to the state, may want a hibiscus tattoo to honor that bond.

As these incredible blossoms are so deeply connected to the islands, a hibiscus tattoo is an attractive way to pay tribute. The welcoming yellow hibiscus is a particularly good choice to represent Hawaii.

A hibiscus tattoo can also be an expression of love, or beauty. And as they are such beautiful flowers, the tattoo can simply be an admiration of natural splendor. 

Final Thoughts

When the hibiscus flower starts to blossom, it’s hard not to fall in love with this spectacular plant. Colorful and bold, the hibiscus has been charming different cultures for centuries. Most closely linked with tropical destinations, the hibiscus is a symbol for beauty and love.

Blossoming briefly but frequently, the hibiscus can add color and vibrancy to your life. The exciting symbolism of the hibiscus means it’s definitely one to consider when you’re next planning an arrangement!

Gloria White

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