Hydrangea for Mother’s Day? – The True Meaning Behind Flowers in Japan (Hana Kotoba)


A Fickle Flower

The meaning behind the hydrangea flower can mean ‘love’ and ‘good health’, so you might think it would be the perfect flower for Mother’s Day.

However, the flower also represents fickleness and affairs.

Even so, hydrangea flowers are becoming more and more popular on Mother’s Day, as some florists completely sell out.

While the go-to Mother’s Day flowers are usually carnations, it seems the hydrangea is quickly gaining ranks.


Hana Kotoba – The Language of Flowers

In Japan, many flowers have something called ‘hana-kotoba’ (flower words). When you send flowers to someone, these hanakotoba often convey feelings along with it.

For carnations, the meanings are as follows.

Red carnations: Motherly love
Blue carnations: Passion and devotion
White carnations: A pure love.

Carnations encompass many different meanings, but the main theme is ‘love’, so these flowers are seen as perfect for Mother’s Day.

However, the hana kotoba for hydrangea are ‘fickle’ and ‘affairs’ in Japan. The reason for this is because the petals of the flower change colour as the seasons change.

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Gaining on Carnations

If you go to a flower shop on Mother’s Day, it’s very likely you’ll see some hydrangea next to the carnations. According to one store, hydrangea are now about as half as popular as the traditional Mother’s Day flower. It seems this sudden increase of hydrangea used as a Mother’s Day flower started about four years ago.

One reason for hydrangea’s growing popularity is because of the petals that slowly change colour. It’s often described as ‘magical’.

So Why Hydrangea, The Flower of Affairs?

The hydrangea is a flower that welcomes the season. It’s a large, beautiful flower that catches the eye, and in recent years, there has been an increase in the different types that you can choose from.

The hana kotoba (flower words) for hydrangea are as follows.

Pink: For good health in a woman.
Blue: For everlasting feelings.
White: Generosity.

Now that you think about it, hydrangea also seem to be perfect for Mother’s Day!

Trouble for the Flower Industry

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While on days like Mother’s Day, the flower industry booms, for much of the year, it’s left struggling. With the price of flowers decreasing, and the cost of production increasing each year, many flower makings are struggling to the point where they are considering packing it in.

Should increasing living expenses and an economy in stagnation be cause for concern in regards to the future of Japan’s flower industry?