Floral tattoos are classic and beautiful pieces of skin art, but choosing the right flowers for a tattoo can be a daunting task. Geraniums are a well-known flower that has many cultural and symbolic meanings; these meanings can vary greatly depending on the Geranium species and also the color of the flowers.
Considering a Geranium tattoo? Read on to learn more about Geranium flower history, legacy, and symbolism and how these can be incorporated into a floral tattoo that is timeless, attractive, and meaningful.
What do Geranium flowers symbolize?
Geranium flowers have a rich and storied legacy across cultures and history. Geranium cultivars are found all over the world and appear in folklore, myth, and various religious traditions.
Egyptians recognize geraniums as symbols of prosperity, while in Japan and China, geraniums symbolize longevity and immortality.
Geraniums are often given as housewarming gifts, as they are said to protect the house from intruders and evil spirits. Geraniums generally symbolize positive attributes, such as protection, love, and health.
Geraniums in Folklore
Folktales and myths feature geraniums. Witches were said to grow red geraniums by their cottage front doors as a warning to strangers to stay away. White geraniums were planted to keep snakes and flies from homesteads.
Geraniums in Religion
Geraniums have religious ties to both Christianity and Islam.
The geranium is prominent in the story of the Prophet Mohammed, who turned a common weed into a geranium by throwing his shirt on the plant to dry.
In the Christian tradition, there is the Saint Robert’s geranium, also known as a wild geranium. This cultivar was associated with fertility because of how the stem and seed pod resemble a stork.
Geraniums in Art and Literature
Geraniums are prominent subjects in many still life portraits from some of the world’s most famous painters: Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet, and Matisse. Many authors have used red geraniums in famous works of literature, from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” to denote domestic gentility in pivotal scenes.
Geraniums in History
Indigneous tribes used geranium roots for their medicinal properties. Roots of geraniums were used to staunch bleeding and soothe sore throats. Some geranium varieties are edible and prized for their tantalizing scents.
During her reign, Queen Victoria popularized the Victorian language of flowers. During this time, red geraniums were associated with stupidity, foolishness, and folly.
What do the different species of geranium symbolize?
The genus of Geraniums has over 400 species, but only a few of these have specific symbolic meanings. The most common geranium is the Hardy or cranesbill geranium. The name geranium is derived from the Greek “Geranos” which means crane. This may be in reference to the shape of seed capsule.
In the Victorian Era, different species of Geraniums were meant to send a particular message.
- Ivy geranium: “May I have your hand for the next dance?”
- Lemon geranium: “Unexpected meeting”
- Rose geranium: “Preference”
- Nutmeg geranium: “I expect to meet”
Further meanings could be discerned by the color of the geranium petals, as well as the manner in which the flowers were presented.
What can a Geranium tattoo mean?
Like many tattoos, geranium tattoos will have a unique meaning to the client, regardless of what tradition dictates as the “meaning” of geraniums.
However, considering the historic meaning and cultural significance behind the flower and its color can help you avoid sending an intended message, especially in such a permanent way!
Geraniums are traditionally associated with positives meanings such as love, fertility, health, joy, and protection.
What is the best location for a Geranium tattoo?
Geraniums are naturally small to medium sized flowers, therefore they can be tattooed in a variety of locations.
Some popular locations include: inner forearm, upper side, upper arm, and shoulders.The style of the tattoo (black and white, color, watercolor, geometric, etc) should also be an important consideration when determining the ideal location for a geranium tattoo.
A professional tattoo artist will discuss locations during an initial consultation so that the quality and detail of the tattoo is not compromised by a poor placement choice.
What colors are Geranium tattoos?
Geranium tattoos can come in a variety of colors, even if you choose to be limited to using only the naturally-occuring colors of geraniums. These colors each have their own special meanings.
Perhaps the best known geranium, red geraniums have the widest variety of meanings associated with it. Most common meanings are protection, comfort, love and passion. However during Queen Victoria’s reign, red geraniums were associated with stupidity, foolishness, and low social status.
White geraniums are traditionally associated with powerful protection, especially from household pests like snakes and flies. White geraniums are also associated with innocence and purity, as well as fertility.
Pink geraniums were prized ingredients for love potions and geranium tea. They symbolize gentle love, femininity, and motherly devotion.
Purple geraniums symbolize nobility and refined style, as well as admiration and adoration.
What are the different characteristics of a Geranium tattoo?
Creative liberties and artistic style will be the biggest determinants of the characteristics of a geranium tattoo. However, geranium plants have several distinct identifiers, so if accuracy is important to the design, the artist should make sure the rendering of the gernanium has the following:
- The distinctive long curved seed pod
- The flowers are five-petaled
- Petals are “palmate” and slightly cleft
- Two narrow points on each petal
What are the different styles of a Geranium tattoo?
Geraniums, like many flowers and other inspiration taken from the natural world, are well-suited for a variety of tattoo styles. Some tattoo styles to consider include:
- Fine line
- Black and Grey
Geraniums are a beautiful flower with many positive associations that make it an ideal subject for a floral tattoo. Geraniums come in a variety of colors and cultivars, making it easy to find the perfect geranium for your next tattoo. When in doubt, always consult with a professional and reputable tattoo artist.