Hydrangea symbolizes heartfelt emotions. It can be used to express gratitude for being understood. In its negative sense hydrangea symbolizes frigidity and heartlessness. First discovered in Japan, 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. According to a Japanese legend, a proud emperor used a bouquet of hydrangeas as an apology to the family of a girl with whom he was in love.
Ever after, the flowers have served as a representation of heartfelt feelings, whether of joy or sadness. With its wooden stems and lacy, star-shaped flowers packed closely together in a pompom, the hydrangea’s color ranges from white to blue to pink and purple, determined by the acidity level of the soil.
There remains some debate over the hydrangea’s symbolism – with some connecting it to vanity and boastfulness (perhaps reflecting its abundance of petals and lavish, rounded shape) and others suggesting that a bouquet of hydrangea expresses the giver’s gratefulness for the recipient’s understanding. Still, others suggest it represents anything that’s sincerely heartfelt. Despite this variation in flower meaning, there appears to be an overwhelming consensus that this 4th wedding anniversary flower possesses enduring grace and beauty.
The blossoms of the hydrangea are treasured for both their boldness and delicacy and are the flower symbol of the fourth wedding anniversary. Hydrangea styles include mophead flowers, which look like pompoms, and lacecap flowers, which are round and flat. For my fourth wedding anniversary I received a gorgeous 4 blossomed blue beauty. Hydrangea are my all time fav flower and blue is my fav color. My husband did right! And how easy of a gift which had so much meaning for me!
In Victorian Times the Hydrangea could mean:
Although one meaning of the hydrangea in the Victorian language of flowers was that of coldness and heartlessness, the flower could also say “thank you for understanding.”
Hydrangea can also have other, less flattering meanings. Perhaps because of its showy beauty, it is sometimes thought to symbolize boastfulness and vanity.