Hibiscus flower meanings include ephemeral beauty, romantic love and passion, friendship, hospitality, and joy. The quintessential tropical flower, the hibiscus originated in Asia and then made its way to other warm places around the world, including Polynesia, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Florida, and the Caribbean. Not only are hibiscus flowers considered beautiful, they have significant spiritual meanings in many cultures.
In this post, you’ll learn about hibiscus symbolism and color meanings. In addition, you’ll find information on growing hibiscus plants, care, and uses.
Table of Contents
- What does the hibiscus flower symbolize?
- Spiritual Meaning of the Hibiscus Flower
- Associated Spirit Animals
- Hibiscus Meaning in Cultural Mythology and Folklore
- Polynesian and Hawaiian Hibiscus Flower Meaning
- Hibiscus Flower Meaning in China
- South Korea
- Hibiscus in India and Hindu Mythology
- Hibiscus Meaning in the Caribbean
- Greek Mythology
- Hibiscus Meaning in Victorian England
- Hibiscus Color Meanings
- Purple Hibiscus Meaning
- Red Hibiscus Meaning
- Hot Pink or Fuchsia
- Pink Hibiscus Meaning
- Orange Hibiscus Meaning
- Yellow Hibiscus
- White Hibiscus
- Hibiscus Tattoo
- Planting Hibiscus and Care Tips
- Hibiscus Uses
What does the hibiscus flower symbolize?
- Ephemeral Beauty
- Romantic Love and Passion
- Friendship and Hospitality
With beautiful blossoms that range from 4” to 10” in diameter, hibiscus flowers are symbols of femininity and female beauty of all shapes and sizes. They represent the power that femininity has to be receptive. You can say that hibiscus flowers embody the law of attraction. Just by being themselves, they attract admiration and even awe.
Hibiscus flowers bloom for only one day on the vine, thus they are also symbols of the preciousness of ephemeral beauty. Like the butterfly and dragonfly spirit animals, the hibiscus flower reminds you that at every moment, something sacred at state.
Because hibiscus flowers are symbols of ephemerality, they are also symbols of opportunity. They remind you to seize the moment, as it may not come again.
Romantic Love and Passion
Because of their bright red and hot pink blossoms, hibiscus flowers also symbolize romantic love and affection. These flowers are the perfect gift for a lover. And if you’re single, they are considered good luck for bringing more romance into your life and for helping you find your soul mate.
Friendship and Hospitality
Hibiscus flower meaning also includes friendship, generosity, and hospitableness. It’s not by happenstance that Hawaiians include these gorgeous blossoms in their leis. The hibiscus embodies the welcoming spirit of aloha.
The vibrancy of hibiscus flowers is very noticeable. These flowers are the opposite of shrinking violets and they don’t hide away in inaccessible places. Thus, they are symbols of openness and sincerity. Just as they are welcoming symbols, hibiscus meaning is demonstrative of sincere feelings and a generous spirit.
It almost goes without saying that hibiscus flower meaning also includes joy. Like music and art, the hibiscus makes life more enjoyable. Their bright colors lift people’s spirits, and not to mention, they probably make them think about taking a tropical vacation.
Spiritual Meaning of the Hibiscus Flower
Hibiscus meaning includes femininity. So, on a spiritual level, these flowers are also symbols of the divine feminine. And it’s important to note that it’s healthy for both men and women to embrace balanced male and female energy. Female power includes the ability to create and nurture life. So, growing and caring for hibiscus flowers is a way to honor life on Earth.
The hibiscus totem is also a helpful symbol for bringing more beauty, love, and romance into your life. Our spiritual journeys here on Earth can be filled with challenges. Yet, like the hummingbird spirit animal, the hibiscus flower reminds us to recognize the beauty and joy on our spiritual journeys as well.
Associated Spirit Animals
The hibiscus flower shares some traits and symbiosis with certain wild animals and insects. For example, flowers have co-evolved with butterflies, and each relies on the other for survival. In addition, the hibiscus has other synergies with the butterfly spirit animal. Not only are both extremely beautiful, they are also both short-lived. So, the butterfly and the hibiscus are symbols of seizing the day and living in the moment.
Similarly, the bee, the bat, and hummingbird spirit animals are closely associated with the hibiscus flower. The hibiscus attracts hummingbirds, bats, and bees and feeds them with nectar. In exchange, these animals extend the life of hibiscus flower by spreading its pollen.
Two other spirit animals share traits with the hibiscus flower. One is the flamingo spirit animal, who also symbolizes vibrant beauty. And the other is the sea turtle spirit animal, who is associated with the tropics and tranquility.
Hibiscus Meaning in Cultural Mythology and Folklore
The hibiscus flower appears in the cultural mythologies of many cultures where these beautiful flowers can be found. Here are some of those stories:
Polynesian and Hawaiian Hibiscus Flower Meaning
The hibiscus is the state flower of Hawaii, and it has special meaning to Hawaiians and other Native People of Polynesia.
Island women wear hibiscus flowers behind their ears not only to look beautiful but to also let would-be suitors know about their relationship status. A hibiscus worn behind the left ear means the woman is attached. While one worn behind the right ear shows she is single and available.
In addition, the Hawaiian People adorn their leis with hibiscus and other tropical flowers as a welcoming symbol of friendship.
The Filipino People tell the tale of how the hibiscus flower came to be. Once upon a time, a man named Gumeng fell in love with a Diwata named Mula. A Diwata is a supernatural being who tends to the forest and lives in rivers, lakes, and caves. (The Greek comparison is a water nymph.)
Love between a mortal man and a Diwata was forbidden by the gods. However, the two lovers couldn’t stand being apart from each other.
So, the gods sent one of their demons to kill Gumeng. Sneaking up on him, the demon put a dagger in Gumeng’s back. He soon fell to the ground bleeding.
When Mula found him, she was devasted. She tried to save him with her fairy magic but could not revive him. Brokenhearted, she took the dagger to her own heart and fell to the ground, bleeding next to her lover.
As the two lovers died, the Earth opened up and pulled them into its healing embrace, leaving no trace of them or their blood. But soon after, a sprout came up from the ground in the spot where the lovers had been. Eventually it grew to become a beautiful hibiscus flower bush, which the locals called Gumamela in honor of the two lovers.
Just as the hibiscus is Hawaii’s state flower, it’s also the national flower of Malaysia. In Malay, the hibiscus is called bunga raya, which translates loosely to “celebration flower.” For the Malaysians, the different petals of the hibiscus symbolize honoring diversity in their country. So, the hibiscus is symbolic of the country’s Rukun Negara, which are the nation’s guiding principles.
Hibiscus Flower Meaning in China
In China, the hibiscus is sometimes referred to as the “China rose.” The blossom also has symbolic meaning in Chinese culture. These meanings include personal power and fame, as well as wealth.
As it is in Hawaii, hibiscus meaning includes hospitality in Japan. In addition, it is symbolic of a gentle nature.
Although the hibiscus is short-lived, in South Korea the blossom symbolizes the afterlife and immortality.
Hibiscus in India and Hindu Mythology
In India and in Hindu mythology, the red hibiscus is the flower of the goddess Kali as well as the deity Ganesha.
The vibrant red color of the hibiscus is symbolic of primordial energy, over which the goddess Kali rules. So, Hindu artists often depict Kali as merging into a hibiscus blossom.
According to Hindu mythology, the god Ganesha taught the people that the hibiscus has the power to elevate their consciousness to connect with the divine. Hindus pay homage to both Kali and Lord Ganesha with hibiscus flowers.
Hibiscus Meaning in the Caribbean
In Jamaica, Trinidad, and other Caribbean islands, hibiscus petals are used in tea and shared with guests. And in Haiti, the hibiscus is a national symbol for hospitality as it is in Hawaii.
In Greek mythology, the god Adonis transformed into a hibiscus to distract the goddesses Aphrodite and Persephone from fighting with each other.
For the ancient Egyptians, hibiscus flower meaning was associated with romantic fervor and even lust. In fact, the Egyptians made a tea from the flower’s petals, which they believed was an aphrodisiac.
Hibiscus Meaning in Victorian England
In Victorian England, flower symbolism was a popular past time. For the Victorians, exotic flowers were especially interesting because they were not as prevalent there in the 19th century as they are today. For the Victorians, the fleeting bloom of the hibiscus flower symbolized delicate beauty.
Hibiscus Color Meanings
Hibiscus flowers come in both vibrant and soft colors, from bright red to white. Here are what the different colors of these blossoms symbolize:
Purple Hibiscus Meaning
Purple hibiscus flower meaning symbolizes rare and unusual beauty, as well as finding harmony in differences. After all, purple is a special color in that is combines the coolness of blue with the warmth of red. So, a purple hibiscus flower symbolizes welcoming and respect for others, even if they come from a different background or faith than your own.
Purple is also the color of seventh chakra, which is Sahasrara in Sanskrit. Sahasrara governs your super-conscious. Thus, a purple hibiscus flower symbolizes a connection to the divine.
Red Hibiscus Meaning
Along with the rose and poppy, the hibiscus is a quintessential red flower. The color red symbolizes primal energy, passion, and romantic love. And in some cultures, such as China, red symbolizes good luck and prosperity.
Red hibiscus flowers are the perfect gift for a romantic partner. In addition, they bring positive vibes to your home or garden to create more security, stability, and joy in your life.
Hot Pink or Fuchsia
Like the red hibiscus, blossoms that come in hot pink or fuchsia symbolize romantic love. They also represent female power and the ability to attract what you want.
Pink Hibiscus Meaning
Light pink hibiscus flower meaning is associated with platonic love, such as that for friends and family members. A pink hibiscus plant is a sweet gift for female friends as well as grandmothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, and nieces. Of course, it’s also a lovely gift for men who love the color pink!
Orange Hibiscus Meaning
The color orange symbolizes healing and vitality. Orange is associated with the second, or sacral, chakra, which is called Svadhisthana in Sanskrit. Svadhisthana rules your health and your gut instincts. So, an orange hibiscus makes a lovely gift for a friend, family member (or even yourself) who is embarking on a new health regimen.
Yellow hibiscus meaning includes joy, friendship, welcoming, and good luck. They are ideal for lifting one’s spirits and bringing good fortune into your home. Like the pineapple, the yellow hibiscus symbolizes hospitality and ensuring your guests have a good time when visiting your home.
White hibiscus flower meaning includes innocence, purity, and gentleness. Like a white butterfly, a white hibiscus flower also symbolizes angels and messages from loved ones who have passed.
A popular symbol on Hawaiian shirts and fabrics, like bark cloth, the hibiscus flower also makes the perfect design for a tattoo. A hibiscus flower tattoo tells the world you love tropical places and that you appreciate natural beauty. It can also demonstrate that you have a sincere and welcoming heart. A hibiscus can be paired with other tropical motifs, such as sea turtles, tropical fish, palm trees, and surfboards to make a showstopper of a tattoo.
Planting Hibiscus and Care Tips
As tropical plants, hibiscus flowers thrive in warm, humid climates. However, you can grow hibiscus plants in containers that you bring inside during cold weather, and there are some varieties that will tolerate colder temperatures.
Hibiscus plants come in both perennial and annual varieties, so you can select the right species for your garden or home needs.
Naturally, these tropical plants love full sun. Six hours of full sun is great, eight hours is even better.
As tropical flowers, hibiscus plants do best in temperatures from 60° – 90°F (15.6° – 32.2°C). However, some species will tolerate below-freezing temperatures. Here are the zones in which a few different varieties can be grown:
- Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) – USDA zones 9 to 11
- Confederate rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) – zones 8 to 10
- Rose mallow (Hibiscus moschuetos) – USDA zones 5 to 9
- Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) – zones 5 to 8
- Hardy hibiscus / Texas star (Hibiscus moschetos) – zones 4 to 9
There are over 200 species of hibiscus plants. So, visiting your local nursery is an easy way to get recommendations for your geographical area.
Soil and Planting
Hibiscus plants can be planted in the ground or in containers. Container planting has the added benefit of being mobile, so you can move the plants to get more sun or bring them inside in cold weather.
For container planting, it’s best to avoid clay containers, as they can change the pH level of the soil. Your container doesn’t have to be too big as hibiscus roots do well with a snug fit. Just be sure you have adequate drainage in the container.
Likewise, when planting hibiscus outside, raised beds in a sunny spot are best as they allow more drainage.
Your hibiscus plants will prefer sandy, loam soils the best. I always recommend high-quality organic potting soil to give your plants the best odds of thriving.
Watering and Feeding
Once you plant your hibiscus, it’s best to give them water every 1-2 days in the first couple of weeks. Then about twice a week after that, depending on your climate. Be sure to ask your local plant nursery for guidelines for your area.
When it comes to fertilizing, there are a few different brands that make organic plant food that’s specifically formulated for hibiscus flowers, and some for tropical flowers.
Protection from Pests
Hibiscus plants attract a number of pests who can harm the plant, including aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, mealy bugs, and others. If you see some strange-looking critters on your plant but you’re not sure what they are, I recommend taking a photo of them and uploading it to the Entomology sub-reddit on Reddit or one of the gardening forums. You’ll be sure to find a number of people who get geeked out on bugs who will be able to quickly identify which critter it is. Often, they’ll also provide recommendations on how to get rid of them.
In general, I always recommend looking for natural, non-toxic ways to remove pests. Sometimes that involves wiping them away with a wet cloth or getting some ladybugs to do the job. There are supposedly safe insecticidal soaps, but they can also harm beneficial insects and their larvae. So, I try to avoid those too.
Pruning your hibiscus plants will give them the best odds for new, healthy growth. I recommend this how-to guide on wikiHow for the best way to prune without harming the plant.
While hibiscus plants are a little more high-maintenance than your average succulent, the reward of their gorgeous tropical-paradise blossoms is well worth the effort!
Not only are these flowers beautiful, they also offer food and medicinal benefits. For instance, a type of hibiscus called Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is commonly used to make tea. Not only does hibiscus tea have a tasty tart flavor that’s similar to cranberries, it’s also loaded with healthy antioxidants and other anti-cancer compounds. In addition, hibiscus is known to cleanse the liver, lower blood pressure, and reduce fats in the blood.
Besides tea, hibiscus can be used in other recipes as well, including jellies, sauces, sorbet, juices, cocktails, and more.