Roses are red, violets are blue, Chinese New Year is nearly here, what flowers are in bloom? Falling on 22 January 2023, the Lunar New Year holiday welcomes the bright, new future and bids farewell to the past. With the highly anticipated holiday on its way, people get their homes in order, cleaning them and decking them out with bunches of new flowers.

Why? Flowers are a pretty sight, but for Chinese people, each flower has a symbolic meaning that is believed to usher in the values that it represents. From bringing true love to hitting the jackpot in wealth, scroll through to discover the meaning of essential Chinese New Year flowers.

Orchid

Orchids represent fertility and abundance during lunar new year
Yellow and pink orchids (© Rae Galatas via Unsplash)

Orchids (laan fa in Cantonese or lánhuā in Mandarin, 蘭花) are delicate and graceful plants that make perfect gifts during Chinese New Year. The quintessential Lunar New Year flowers represent fertility and abundance, as well as good taste, beauty, luxury and innocence. Resilient plants, orchids bloom in multiple seasons: the fall, winter and spring. They come in different colors, with yellow symbolising friendship, white symbolising purity, and pink symbolising femininity. Though orchids tend to be on the pricier side, they are arguably the most popular plant displayed during the new year, coming in a variety of colors and sizes to suit every living space.

Bamboo

bamboo trees represent good luck and fortune in the Chinese culture
Lucky bamboo for Chinese New Year (© Hofred via Canva)

Usually associated with pandas or building scaffolding in Hong Kong, during the new year, bamboo plants (juk ji or zhúzi, 竹子) are a lucky plant believed to bring good luck and fortune. Their sturdiness also makes them symbolic of strength. They’re easy to care for, and sometimes seen growing in interesting twists and turns. The number of stalks a bamboo plant has represents various blessings. For instance, two stalks bring double the luck and five stalks bring overall good health. Note that four stalks are never gifted, as the number four (si, 四), sounds similar to the Chinese word for “death” (si, 死).

See also
Cultural Guide To The Meaning & Celebration Of Winter Solstice Festival In Hong Kong

Gladiolus

red gladiolus represent growth or promotion at the professional level
Red gladiolus (© k-e-k-u-l-é viaPixabay)

Gladiolus (gim laan or jiànlán, 劍蘭), also known as the Sword Lily, features an abundant amount of blossoms on a single branch. It’s a beautiful flower for home decor coming in colors like white for purity, red for passionate love, yellow for cheerfulness and purple for grace. The gladiolus represents growth or promotion in your career and self-development. These flowers begin blooming in July and carry into early winter, steadily progressing throughout the year and syncing up to their Chinese symbolic meaning. For Chinese New Year, it’s most common to go for the fiery red gladiolus!

Narcissus

narcissus flowers represent good fortune and prosperity in the Chinese culture
Yellow and white narcissus flowers (© Etienne-F59 via Pixabay)

Narcissus flowers (seui sin or shuǐxiān, 水仙) are the most auspicious flowers for the lunar new year, and look and smell magical. Dainty and pretty, they are also known as water fairy flowers or daffodils. In auspicious terms, they represent good fortune and prosperity. Narcissus flowers grow relatively fast, especially in warm temperatures; therefore, it’s suggested to buy them right before inviting friends and family over during the 15-day Chinese New Year holiday to see the lucky flowers in full bloom. Some may think of a sunny-side-up egg when viewing these beauties!

Pussy willows

pussy willows with chinese new year decorations
Pussy willow plant decorated in Lunar New Year red (© Fakehoneymoon via Canva)

Pussy willows (teui sik lau or tuìshǎi liǔ, 褪色柳) represent growth and incoming prosperity and point to the start of spring. They’re tall and slender in shape, and can sustain for long periods of time, only needing biweekly watering. Pussy willows normally come in grey and white, but sometimes, florists get creative by adding a dash of colour to the furry buds that make them stand out among other plants. They bloom in early spring and make fascinating house plants to welcome new beginnings at the beginning of the lunar year.

See also
Your Complete Guide To Giving Lai See (Red Envelopes) During Chinese New Year

Mandarin or tangerine trees

mandarin orange plants
Mandarin plants for the lunar new year (© Leung Cho Pan via Canva)

In the month leading up to Chinese New Year, it’s a common sighting to see lots of plants containing tangarines (gwat ji or jú zǐ, 金桔), mandarin oranges, or kumquats. These lucky plants are typically ordered in bulk in advance to place by the entrance of homes, buildings, and stores. The column-like Chinese New Year plants dotted with orange represent good luck and wealth, with the more fruit the trees bear, the more luck and wealth they bring. Placing them at your front door ensures that people walking into your home bring in good luck. And the bright orange colors and aromatic citrus smell just brighten the entire atmosphere.

Jade plant

jade trees or "money plants" represent prosperity and wealth
Jade plant or “money tree” (© OlgaMiltsova via Canva)

Bearing resemblance to most of the auspicious meanings behind the plants seen thus far, jade plants (yuk chong or yù chǎng, 玉廠) symbolize prosperity, wealth and fortune. Native to South Africa, jade plants are highly regarded for their leaves that look like jade stones; thus, the prosperous meaning they hold. They take on a tree form and are easy to care for as they fall under the succulent family, requiring little time and attention. Their longevity and self-sustaining ways also earn them the symbolic virtue of strength.

Plum blossoms

plum blossoms during lunar new year
Peach blossoms flower during Chinese New Year (© blackred via Canva)

Plum blossoms (mui fa or méihuā, 梅花) are also known as peach blossoms or sakura flowers. The beautiful vibrant pink flowers symbolize perseverance and reliability as they bloom even throughout harsh cold weather. Hence, they persevere in the face of hardship with the hope of a promising future ahead. Plum blossoms also represent growth, prosperity, and romance for those looking for love. They’re typically placed in vases when bought for the home during Chinese New Year, and people walk around the blossoms to have their wishes fulfilled.

See also
The Cultural Guide To Mid-Autumn Festival, When We Worship The Largest Full Moon Of The Year

Cherry blossoms

cherry blossom tree during the spring festival
Cherry blossom tree with lunar new year decorations (© nasser336633 via Pixabay)

Very similar in appearance to plum blossoms, cherry blossoms (ying fa or yīnghuā, 櫻花) are popular springtime flowers. Thus, cherry blossoms represent new beginnings and a renewal of life. And because they have long branches, they also represent longevity. If you want to tell cherry blossoms and plum blossoms apart, look at the petals. Cherry blossoms have small split ends on each petal whereas plum blossoms don’t. Be sure to head to a park where cherry blossom bloom from mid-March to mid-April, like Tai Po Waterfront Park, to enjoy the spectacular views!

Solanum mammosum

Solanum mammosum can be found in Hong Kong wet markets during CNY
Solanum mammosum can be found in Hong Kong wet markets (© The HK HUB)

Also called “nipplefruits”, “fox head”, “cow’s udder”, or “apple of Sodom”, solanum mammosum plants can be seen in wet markets and shops during Chinese New Year. Called ng doi tung tong (五代同堂) in Chinese, which can be literally translated as “five generations together household”, the fruit represents longevity for the family. Don’t be fooled by this beautiful golden-coloured fruit – it is inedible and poisonous.

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Header image credits: Kelvin Yan via Unsplash

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A hermit at heart, Agnes likes to connect with the world across various platforms that share a wealth of content on beauty, culture, lifestyle, and travel. She loves using the art of language to portray her voice and poor sense of humour whenever possible. When she’s not nerding around or head deep into a piece, you’re sure to find her spending time outdoors with friends and family or going down the Pinterest rabbit hole to find all sorts of inspiration she can!

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