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Flower Meanings


What are those giant bushes covered in perfumed blue and pink clusters of flowers? Why hydrangeas, of course! Just as popular in bridal bouquets as adorning your country home, these blooms are nothing if not versatile.

The Meanings of Hydrangeas

Most hydrangeas grow in a single color per plant, except for the amazing Bigleaf hydrangea which changes color from pink to blue based on your soil pH. For a list of common color meanings check below! 

Pink – Linked to romance, heartfelt emotions, love, weddings, and marriage.

Blue – Connected to frigidity, turning down a romantic proposal, asking for forgiveness, and expressing regret.

Red – Love and gratitude.

White – Known as a symbol of purity, grace, abundance, and bragging or boasting.

Purple – Used to indicate a desire for a deeper understanding of someone else or to symbolize abundance and wealth. [1]

What Do Hydrangeas Smell Like?

Hydrangeas are known to have a jasmine-like scent. [6]

"I saw you riding on your bike In a corduroy jacket in the night Past the hydrangeas that were blooming in the alley With a galloping dog by your side"

Jolie Holland

The History of Hydrangeas

The name “hydrangea” comes from the Greek “hydor,” meaning water, and “angos,” meaning jar or vessel. This roughly translates to “water barrel,” referring to the hydrangea’s need for plenty of water and its cup-shaped flower.

In Japan, these blooms have quite a bit of historical tradition backing them up. The hydrangea has been known to link to apologies and gratitude in this tradition. The story goes, that an emperor gave hydrangeas to a maiden that he was deeply in love with as an apology for neglecting her while he was otherwise occupied by his other, business related affairs.

In Japan, contemporary florists use it to represent genuine emotions and love because the pink blossoms, in particular, resemble a beating heart. The Victorians, however, were not as fond of the hydrangea and used it as a symbol to declare someone a boaster. In Medieval times, they believed that young women who grew or picked hydrangeas would never find husbands…ouch.

Modern Western florists often use hydrangeas in wedding bouquets, centerpieces, and in apology arrangements, an elegant tie-off of their history and traditional meanings. [2]

DID YOU KNOW - Hydrangea Fun Fact

The Hydrangea serrata is used to make a sweet tea that Buddhists use as a cleansing ritual wash for statues of the Buddha each year.

How to Grow Hydrangeas

Most hydrangeas thrive in rich, porous, moist soils. They can be a bit of a pain and prefer full sun in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon. Plant them in the spring or fall and watch them bloom year after year!

Here’s how to plant hydrangeas:

Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide.

Set the plant in the hole and fill it halfway with soil, then water! After the water has drained, fill the rest of the hole with soil and water thoroughly.

If you’re planting multiple hydrangeas, try and space them about 3 to 10 feet apart.

For the first year or two after planting as well as during a drought or particularly dry season, be sure your hydrangeas get plenty of water. Their leaves will begin to wilt if the soil is too dry.

If your soil is rich, you may not need to fertilize your new blooms. However, if your soil is light or sandy, it’s best to feed the plants once a year in late winter or spring.

Beware: Too much fertilizer encourages leafy growth at the expense of blooms. 

Once autumn hits, cover your plants to a depth of at least 18 inches with bark mulch, leaves, pine needles, or straw. If at all possible, cover the entire plant, tip included, by making cages out of snow fencing or chicken wire, and loosely filling the cages with leaves.

Now for the most exciting part, it’s also possible to change your hydrangeas’ color!


Hydrangeas will change color based on the pH level of their soil. The more alkaline the soil, the pinker your flowers will be! To make your blooms turn blue, or to keep your blue blooms from turning pink, increase the acidity of the soil. [5]

It will take weeks or even months, but we suggest waiting until the plants are at least 2 years old before you experiment with “dying” them.

It’s not every hydrangea that changes color. The color of some Bigleaf hydrangeas (H. macrophylla)—especially Mophead and Lacecap types—and H. serrata cultivars change color based on the soil pH.

Acidic soils with a pH of less than 5.5 produce blue flowers; soils with a pH higher than 5.5 produce pink flowers. White flowers are not affected by pH. [3]

DID YOU KNOW - Hydrangea Fun Fact

The colors of the flowers are affected by the aluminum ions in the soil.

How to Care for Hydrangeas

How to Care for Hydrangeas

Before you begin cutting your hydrangea, be sure you bring a bucket of water into the garden with you.

Keep the stem of your chosen bloom as long as possible, and then immediately place it into your bucket of water after your first cut. Next, cut the stem underwater to your desired length. Be sure to cut the stem at a 45-degree angle for increased water flow.

When you bring your cuts indoors, boil up enough water to fill your vase/ bucket. Cut about 5 centimeters from the stem and immediately place it in boiling water. Sounds crazy, right? We thought so too, but it works!

The ‘boiling water treatment’ can also be used to revive wilting heads after a day or so, and the hydrangea heads should spruce right back up, looking as fresh as the day they were harvested from your garden. [4]

Pro Tip: Try putting your hydrangea in the refrigerator for a few hours if it begins to wilt. This should help firm up your blooms and help them live longer. 

When to Send Hydrangeas as a Gift

Try giving the gift of hydrangeas for weddings, engagements, and other unifying ceremonies. They’re also great for asking forgiveness, and they are the perfect flowers for celebrating your 4th wedding anniversary!

Hydrangea Bouquets

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