Hyacinths symbolize jealousy, a desire for forgiveness, joy, and sincerity, depending on the flower color. Yellow hyacinths are linked to jealousy, purple flowers mean you’re seeking forgiveness, and blue hyacinths are tied to sincere care. Keep reading to learn more about the meaning and symbolism of hyacinths as well as proper occasions to gift these flowers.
Hyacinth Origin and History
While there are many types of hyacinths, the now popular garden varieties originated in the Middle East. Hyacinth bulbs arrived in Western Europe in the late 1500s, and breeding efforts began shortly after. Over time, the various colors and cultivars present today emerged! Today, hyacinths are mainly produced in the Netherlands and United Kingdom.
The genus name Hyacinthus comes from the Greek prince Hyakinthos, who you’ll learn more about below.
The Hyacinth in Greek Mythology
Like with many other flowers, Greek mythology lends an idea regarding how the hyacinth came to be. It all started with the handsome Spartan prince Hyakinthos. Since Hyakinthos was so attractive, he caught the attention and love of the sun god Apollo. However, Apollo wasn’t the only god who was interested in the prince. Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, also couldn’t keep his eyes off Hyakinthos.
When Hyakinthos chose to be with Apollo, Zephyrus didn’t take this as a sign to move on. One day, Apollo was teaching Hyakinthos to throw the discus as part of a game called quoits. Zephyrus saw the fun the two were having, and sent a strong wind in their direction. The wind struck a discus Apollo had thrown, sending it toward Hyakinthos, and striking him.
Despite Apollo’s best efforts to save the stricken prince, Hyakinthos died in his lover’s arms. As Hyakinthos’ blood dripped onto the ground, a flower sprung up in its place. Apollo named the flower hyacinth and vowed for it to serve as a reminder of Hyakinthos.
Hyacinths can symbolize jealousy, sincerity, a desire for forgiveness, and more.
After hearing the tale of Zephyrus, Apollo, and Hyakinthos, it’s easy to see why the hyacinth is a symbol of jealousy. While all colors of hyacinths can be used to convey jealous feelings, yellow flowers are especially tied to envy and contempt. With that in mind, a yellow hyacinth isn’t always the best flower to give to someone.
Desire for Forgiveness
We’ve all been there. Despite our best intentions, we’ve committed a wrong, and hurt someone we love. When that happens, it’s best to own our mistakes and ask for forgiveness. That’s where the purple hyacinth comes in.
While hyacinths can be tied to jealousy, they can also be a sign that you recognize you’ve made a mistake and you’re looking for forgiveness. While this may seem like a negative meaning, there’s something sweet about expressing your remorse…especially if you use a beautiful flower to do so.
Hyacinths, especially blue hyacinths, can also symbolize sincere feelings of love and deep care. If you want to let someone know you care, no matter what, a bouquet of blue hyacinths could be a great way to convey your feelings.
Hyacinth Meaning by Color
Like with most flowers, each hyacinth color brings unique meaning and symbolism. However, it’s important to take note that the symbolism of these hyacinth colors are quite different from those of many other flowers. As you read through the meanings behind the various colors, you’ll see there are flowers for every element of the emotional spectrum.
Blue hyacinths are symbols of sincerity, loyalty, and fidelity. They let someone know that you’ll be there for them, no matter what. Therefore, they can be good flowers to give for anniversaries.
Purple hyacinths can symbolize multiple things, including sorrow and a desire for forgiveness. The fragrant purple blooms could be a way to let others know you’re thinking about them after a death in the family. Or they could be a great way to let someone know you recognize you messed up and you’re looking for forgiveness.
With their light, pretty flowers, pink hyacinths symbolize playful joy. They’re the best color hyacinth to choose if you’re looking for flowers for birthdays, graduations, or other happy events.
If you want to let someone know you’re thinking about them, white hyacinths can be a good choice. These flowers symbolize deep thoughts for others, in the purest form. They can be a good way to let someone know you’re wishing them well during a big life transition or challenging moment.
If you look at rose and tulip symbolism you’ll find that red flowers are often symbols of intense, passionate love. But it’s a bit different for red hyacinths. These flowers can be linked to love, but a more playful and light kind. They send the message that you’re looking to kick back and enjoy yourself.
As mentioned above, yellow hyacinths are symbols of intense jealousy. They mean you’re wishing you had something someone else does. With that said, they’re not a great gift in many situations. For example, if you give yellow hyacinths to someone after they land a new job or move into a new house, you may be sending the message you’re jealous of what they have.
Hyacinth Fun Facts
It’s clear that hyacinths hold fascinating meanings—some obvious and some surprising. Along with this symbolism, you can also find many hyacinth fun facts!
Don’t Trust a Name
While the grape hyacinth sounds like it belongs in the Hyacinthus genus, it’s actually not related to true hyacinths. Instead, these flowers are in the Muscari genus which is a member of the lily family.
True hyacinths, aka species in the Hyacinthus genus, are in the asparagus family. That means true hyacinths are more closely related to yucca and bluebells than they are to grape hyacinths.
Their Fragrances Are Unique
Not only are hyacinth flowers gorgeous, but they also come with a strong, floral fragrance. If you smell one type of hyacinth today and another next week, you may think all of these flowers emit the same fragrance. But if you smell them side by side you’ll learn each variety comes with a unique scent.
The hyacinth fragrances are sometimes extracted and used to add scents to products including perfumes, lotions, and candles. However, many hyacinth fragrances are actually artificially produced. So if you want a real floral fragrance it’s best to stick with fresh flowers.
Plant a Bulb
Hyacinths grow from underground bulbs that are planted in the fall. Each spring, the bulbs send up green leaves followed by their colorful flowers. With the proper care, a single bulb can bloom for multiple years. Along with planting hyacinth bulbs outside in the soil, you can also force them to bloom indoors in a jar filled with water.
Watch Out for Oxalic Acid
Hyacinths contain a substance known as oxalic acid, which is toxic if ingested. Oxalic acid can also cause skin irritation, so keep this in mind when handling plants. The bulbs contain the highest concentration of this acid, but it also occurs in the leaves and flowers in smaller doses.
Hyacinths, More Than a Pretty Flower
You probably know hyacinths for their pretty flowers and alluring fragrances. And now you know that hyacinths also come with complex symbolism! Remember to keep the flower color in mind when selecting hyacinths as a gift.Shop All