When it comes to a beautiful, symmetrical flower, the petunia can be an excellent aesthetic choice. In terms of symbolism, however, the petunia has contradictory meanings and well-documented negative connotations.
The petunia has a notable history as a symbol of anger and resentment, especially as a tattoo, but it can also carry a contradictory message of desire and hope.
This article explores the history, meaning and symbolism surrounding both the petunia flower and the tattoo.
What Is The History of Petunia Tattoos?
Like many other flowers, the history of the petunia as a tattoo is somewhat obscured by the long history of other flower tattoos. It’s a flower that is frequently paired with other flowers to form pleasing aesthetic arrangements in tattoos.
The formal history of the petunia as a flower begins in the 1800s, which makes it a logical time for the introduction of the petunia into tattoos.
What is the History of the Petunia Flower?
The petunia was originally a flower of the South American climates. There are about 35 different species, of varying colors.
Petunia flowers are known for their 5-petal trumpet shape and their delicate appearance.
In the mid 1800s, a French botanist named Petun collected the flowers and seeds and returned with them to Europe, where he successfully cultivated them. They became a popular addition to European gardens.
According to history, there are two potential origins for the name. One is that they were named after the botanist who transplanted them to Europe, in his honor.
The other story is that they acquired the name from natives. Their leaves were similar in shape to some tobacco plants, and influenced the name through the word ‘petun’ or ‘tobacco that is not good to smoke’.
The name also has Latin connotations, based on its relationship to the Nightshade family.
What Do Petunias Tattoos Symbolize?
Petunias have a complex symbolism, with contradictory meanings. Color can play a role in the meanings the flower holds, in addition to its basic meaning.
The most well known meaning is ‘anger’ or ‘resentment’. A lone petunia is often used to send the message ‘I am furious’.
The other best known symbolic use is to signify to remain hopeful, the desire to spend time with the other person.
In Victorian times, the popularity of the petunia gave it another meaning: They were used as decorations to symbolize accepted companions.
Symbolism of Different Colors of Petunias:
Different colors of petunias hold different meanings. Common colors and positive meanings include:
- Red Petunias: Passion and love
- Pink Petunias: Femininity, Gentleness and Compassion
- Yellow Petunias: Friendship, Trust, Sympathy, or Deep Respect
- Purple Petunias: Fantasy, Charm, Grace and Mystery
- Blue Petunias: Peace, Intimacy, and a Deep Trust in Someone
- White Petunias: Innocence, Truth, Dignity and Trust
What Do Petunia Tattoos Mean?
Most commonly, the petunia is used as a tattoo to symbolize anger and resentment. It can also be used to symbolize someone with which the person with the tattoo has a bad relationship.
If used with this meaning, the color of the tattoo may symbolize the type of relationship that went bad. A white petunia for a broken trust, or a red for a fallout with a loved one.
However, the petunia can also be used to symbolize hope and companionship. When used in this context, the color can symbolize the type of relationship or companionship the person is hoping for.
– Purple Petunias may symbolize a desire to find magic and mystery in their lives.
– Blue Petunias might symbolize a desire for peace, and someone they can build a deep bond with.
– Yellow Petunias might symbolize a desire for a friend to share mutual trust and respect
These may also represent someone with whom they already have this type of relationship.
A third option is that they may be chosen for purely aesthetic reasons, especially since petunias were often used for that purpose.
Petunias Paired with Other Symbols:
Petunias are often used with other flowers as a decorative border, or as a bouquet of meanings.
With roses, it may be indicative of love lost, or desired, or of deep passions unreturned.
With an animal, it might carry a meaning that crosses the symbolism of the animal with the meaning of the color of the petunia. Or the animal may represent a person, and the petunia may represent the relationship they have, or might have.
With names, it would likely symbolize the relationship with that person.
Other symbols or imagery can carry other meanings, or references.
Where Do Petunia Tattoos Usually Go?
Petunia tattoos are worn in many locations. The most common locations include:
– Forearms: as either single blooms or small bouquets.
– Ankles: Single or doubled smaller blooms or miniature tattoos
– Shoulders: Bouquets of petunias can be commonly placed on the front shoulder or upper arm, or large single blooms on the back of the shoulder blade.
– Upper Thighs: A popular location for large bouquets
– Rib Cage: A single purple petunia on the rib cage has been used to symbolize the sense of wonder and magic a person feels.
Styles and Characteristics of Petunia Tattoos:
Petunia tattoos come in many styles and characteristics.
Illustrated petunias are common, in single or multiple blooms.
The most common colors are pink, purple and blue. They are also sometimes depicted with stripes, or a ‘sparkle’ type aspect.
Pen and Ink style petunia tattoos are another common style.
These are usually multiple blooms, often with stems as well.
These often are done in a realistic style.
Pop Culture References with petunias are gaining popularity.
A recent trend has been tattoos of illustrated petunias in falling pots, or around a sperm whale with the phrase ‘Don’t Panic’.
This is a reference to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This could be something they’re passionate about, or represent someone they know.
The petunia in any style is a beautiful flower, with a myriad of meanings and uses. As a tattoo, it’s an excellent choice for both aesthetics and hidden, complicated or contradictory meanings.