Hibiscus Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Hibiscus Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Hibiscus, also known under its botanical name of rose mallow, is an unforgettable flower. It is a tropical beauty not specific to any culture, making it an appropriate flower for anyone to get. These flowers can be many colors, with each color meaning something different, so learning what each design means can help you pick which one is most fitting.

What is the History of Hibiscus Tattoos?

The flower itself grows in warm, tropical regions in the world. They grow in sunny spots with well-drained soil and are typically grown for ornamental reasons. However, they can also be used for dyes, medicines, and consumed for sustenance.

Hawaii, Tahiti, Polynesia, China, and other cultures have incorporated hibiscus flowers into their tattoos for generations due to their beauty and all of the different things they represent.


What Do Hibiscus Tattoos Symbolize and Mean?

Hibiscus in general symbolizes both beauty, grace, and delicacy, typically of young women.

They also symbolize love and devotion, making it a popular one for lovers. In Mandarin culture, hibiscus tattoos symbolize wealth and fame. In Asia, the hibiscus is thought to ward off evil spirits.

In the Victorian era, the flower itself was used as a symbol of accomplishment, achievement, and glory. Across Pacific Island cultures, the flowers are used for many things from shoe shining, to medicines, to being combined with food dishes, to representing if a woman is married or single.

  • A hibiscus with red petals represents courage and is a symbol of national pride for the Malay culture. Outside of the Malay culture, red petals stand for love, desire, passion, and romance.
  • Pink hibiscus tattoos show closeness and femininity. The color also represents rare beauty.
  • Purple petals are both regal but may also suggest mystery because purple is such a rare color in nature. There is also a spiritual connection with the color. Today, getting a purple hibiscus tattoo suggests specialness, extravagance, and excellence. Purple also is associated with richness.
  • Yellow hibiscus are rare in nature and the tattoo symbolizes happiness, good omens, optimism, joy, and hope. It may also be associated with good luck, life, and vitality. Many people also see it as a symbol of friendship. A yellow hibiscus is also the state flower of Hawaii, so getting one can represent one’s respect for the state.
  • White petals are associated with purity and innocence. Some cultures associate the white color with femininity, others with strength, and others with beauty. It is often representative of enlightenment.
  • Blue hibiscus represents freedom, usually because blue is associated with the sky and the sea. Blue petals also symbolize independence, serenity, calmness, and fertility.
  • An orange color to the petals may imply welcoming, as that is the traditional meaning in Hawaii, where orange hibiscus flowers are common. As the flower itself is used in both culinary and medicinal fields, orange petals in a tattoo symbolizes vitality, improvement, hospitality, and the warmth of summer.

Where Do Hibiscus Tattoos Usually Go?

These tattoos do not have a traditional placement, so a lot of it comes down to how much pain you can tolerate. Meatier areas with more muscle are less painful than smaller areas with more bone. The size, color, and orientation of the hibiscus tattoo will also come into play here.

Common places to get these tattoos are usually the back, chest, shoulders, or arms because there is a lot of space to work with. Many people also get dainty hibiscus tattoos on their ankles or feet, though these ones will be smaller and more painful to get. Another option is the thigh because it is a less painful area and provides a larger area to work with.


Characteristics and Styles of Hibiscus Tattoos

As there are more than 200 species of hibiscus, characteristics and styles can vary and still be true to the original flower. They can grow in the forms of trees, bushes, or vines. The flowers themselves are shaped like trumpets. They have at least five petals with a pistil and stamen. The colors range all over the place.

Some styles to consider getting a hibiscus tattoo include:

  • A black and grey design allows for a showcase of the flower’s unique shape and dimensions with realistic shading and playing with light and shadow.
  • Black-work tattoos are both striking and subtle, walking the line between masculine and feminine elements.
  • Dot-work tattoos are softer and elegant, creating depth and shading based on how close together or far apart the dots are.
  • Etching tattoos look like they are carved out of wood, and can add an older feel to the tattoo design.
  • Tribal tattoos harken back to the roots of Polynesian tattoos.
  • Realistic designs pull from the natural beauty hibiscus already have that can really stand out as an artistic piece.
  • Watercolor designs are expressive and bold, with splashes of color mixed in with the flower.
  • American traditional style harkens back to the stylistic sailor loving island life, it will be 2D and deeply saturated in color.

Here are some motif options for hibiscus tattoo combinations:

  • Combining the hibiscus with a sunflower gives off a positive, warm vibe.
  • Rose and hibiscus together imply a deeper love, desire, and gratitude motif.
  • Paired with a palm tree, hibiscus implies strength yet delicacy and beauty.
  • Tulips and hibiscus together symbolize love.
  • When hibiscus are featured with turtles, something common in Polynesian culture, the tattoos represent long, healthy lives.
  • Hummingbirds and hibiscus together represent love, life, admiration, and good luck.
  • When paired with snakes, hibiscus flowers symbolize fertility, renewal, wisdom, and the cycle of life.
  • Skulls paired with hibiscus represent change and moving forward, making this a common option for covering bad scars or older tattoos.


Hibiscus tattoos are a beautiful representation of many different life stages, themes, and motifs. The meaning of the hibiscus tattoo can also change with you as you grow, as the different colors symbolize a wide swath of values. Wherever you choose to get a tattoo of the hibiscus flower, there is an option and style out there for you.


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