Flower Facts Flower Information Meaning & Symbolism

23 Chinese Flowers: Photos & Info

Purple Chinese Asters growing outside

Florists in China are held in high esteem, as Chinese flowers have been culturally significant for centuries. Chinese flowers are the subjects of literature and art, and are used to convey emotion and spiritual symbolism in ceremonies. Chinese flowers are so valued that while flowers were planted all over Beijing for the 2022 Olympics, volunteers crocheted flower bouquets for medalists, an effort in sustainability that left athletes with symbolic permanent reminders of the Beijing Olympics. 

Chinese flower meanings are often different from those in western culture. Individual flowers have ties to histories, legends, and traditions unique to China, and flower color symbolism is based on the nuances of Chinese culture. Pink and red flowers represent celebration, good luck, and happiness. Yellow flowers symbolize prosperity, abundance, wealth, and good fortune, and yellow roses celebrate victory. Blue flowers mean uniqueness and honesty, while purple is associated with elegance, unity, optimism, and spiritual awakening. White is usually thought of as the color of innocence and purity, in China, it symbolizes mourning and death.

There’s an impressive variety of Chinese flowers, due in part to the broad scope of growing zones in China. China’s climate ranges from sub-arctic in the northern region and alpine in the mountains, to tropical in the south. Precipitation varies from desert conditions to monsoon, with plenty of moderate weather amidst the extremes.

If we use the USDA Hardiness Zone Map, China’s growing conditions range from 1a to 13b, which means many of China’s flowers can be grown here in the United States as well. In fact, some Chinese flower names are quite familiar, like orchid, iris, and peony. You may already have a Chinese flower or three gracing your garden, and with so many striking varieties, there’s a good chance you’ll want to add a few more!

*There are multiple Chinese dialects. To avoid confusion, the Chinese flower names listed are identified in English.

1. China Aster

Pink china aster flower blooming outside

Unlike most asters, China aster is not a perennial, but an annual that grows between 12″-36″, producing white, pink, red, blue, purple, and yellow blooms. There are Chinese flower meanings for asters in general, including patience, long distance love, accomplishment, good fortune, and a brilliant future. China asters, specifically, symbolize devotion and loyalty. A gift of China asters conveys faithfulness and lasting love or friendship.

USDA hardiness zone: 2-11

2. Azalea

Pink azalea flowers blooming outside

Azaleas have significant status in Chinese culture, symbolic of home and longing for home. They are often gifted to parents, family, and friends back home. Azaleas are also connected with passion and womanhood. Red azaleas symbolize good fortune, and are especially popular around the Chinese New Year. Azaleas are a popular choice for bonsai trees. In spring, as azaleas burst into bloom, the Chinese Yi ethnic group celebrates the Azalea Festival at Dazhu Mountain, where they bloom in abundance.

USDA hardiness zone: 6-9

3. Baby’s Breath

Baby's breath growing outside

Ethereal baby’s breath is a popular flower for decorating and gifting during Qixi Festival, similar to the Western holiday Valentine’s Day. They symbolize purity, innocence, and youthful love.

USDA hardiness zone: 3-9

4. Begonia

Pink begonia flowers growing outside

Like azaleas, begonias are celebrated with a traditional festival, in this case the Yuan Dynasty Relics Park Begonia Festival in early to mid April. Recently they’ve become pop culture symbols because of the Chinese anime film, Big Fish and Begonia. Begonias typically bloom in shades of pink, red, and orange, with showy leaves that are often variegated. In Chinese flower language, begonias represent a warning to a loved one. They symbolize caution, foreboding, and transitional phases in life.

USDA hardiness zone: 6-9

5. Camellia

Pink camellia flower blooming outside

There are over 230 species of camellia, and most are native to China and its surrounding region, so camellias are culturally significant. Red camellias symbolize good luck, protection, and happiness, and are popular in decorations during Chinese New Year. They are frequently featured in Chinese art, with the red camellia japonica being the most popular floral subject amongst artists for its encouraging symbolism. Quintong Ancient Town in China celebrates the Camellia Flower Festival every year.

USDA hardiness zone: 7-9

6. Canna

Bright red canna flower blooming outside

Often called canna lily because of its resemblance to the lily’s flower, canna is a member of the ginger plant family. The brilliant red flowers symbolize confidence and liveliness in China.

USDA hardiness zone: 9-10

7. Cherry Blossom

Cherry blossom tree sprouting flowers

In Japan, cherry blossoms represent the passage of time, birth, death, and renewal. Chinese culture, though, has its own connections to these spring blooms. In China, cherry blossoms symbolize feminine beauty, power, and mystique, and are more connected with creating and nurturing life than its fleeting nature. Cherry blossom festivals are held throughout China from mid-March to mid-April.

USDA hardiness zone: 5-8

8. Chrysanthemum

Close-up of pink chrysanthemums outside

Chrysanthemum is one of four plants – plum blossom, orchid, bamboo, and chrysanthemum – that form the basis of classical Chinese art, dubbed “The Four Gentlemen”, or “The Four Noble Ones”. Each plant represents a season, with chrysanthemum as autumn’s noble symbol. Because of the length of their blooming season and their resilience, chrysanthemums symbolize endurance and vitality. Wine made from fermented chrysanthemum petals has been drunk since ancient China. Every November, the Chrysanthemum Festival is celebrated in Xiaolan-Zhongshan.

USDA hardiness zone: 5-9

9. Daffodils

Bright yellow daffodils outside

The luckiest New Year flowers, daffodils are in bloom for both the lunar New Year and Chinese New Year. In China, daffodils symbolize new beginnings and are believed to bring good fortune and attract positive energy in the coming year.

USDA hardiness zone: 3-8

10. Dandelion

Dandelion in a field

You read that right – the flowering “weed” so often the target of mowers and trimmers elsewhere is regarded as a symbol of courage in China for its stubborn resilience. And just like we did as kids, they believe blowing the white dandelion seed puffs brings good luck, and that wishes made when blowing them will be granted.

11. Gladiolus

Close-up of purple gladiolus flowers blooming outside

Gladiolus flowers symbolize integrity, strength, self-growth and career success. This Chinese flower is amongst those favored for Chinese New Year, especially red gladioli for a prosperous year ahead. Gladiolus flowers are often gifted for career milestones or successes.

USDA hardiness zone: 7-10

12. Hibiscus

Yellow hibiscus flower blooming outside

Symbols of riches, fame, splendor, and delicate beauty, hibiscus flowers are treasured in China, and are often featured in paintings and ceramics. Once cut, hibiscus flowers don’t last long, so they’re often associated with fleeting beauty, glory, or fame. Every year China takes part in the annual Hibiscus Festival on the Pacific Island of Fiji.

USDA hardiness zone: 4-9

13. Hollyhocks

Pink hollyhock flower growing outside

Hollyhocks are native to China’s Sichuan Province, and are popular tourist attractions in Sichuan and Beijing. The tall plants produce flowers in vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, and black, and can thrive in harsh environments. Because of their durability, they symbolize fertility and perseverance in China, especially for the people of Sichuan. Hollyhocks are featured in Chinese literature, including the poetry of Du Fu, Su Shi, and Li Bai.

USDA hardiness zone: 3-8

14. Jasmine

White jasmine flowers growing outside

Fragrant white and pale pink jasmine flowers represent beauty, elegance, sensuality, and enduring love. These China flowers are often given to lovers as a sign of devotion, and are commonly featured in traditional embroidered hanfu garments.

USDA hardiness zone: 7-10

15. Lily

Close-up of lily flower bloom

The Chinese flower name for lily, when said phonetically, sounds like the proverb, “happy union for one hundred years”, so naturally, it’s a popular choice for weddings in China! Lilies are said to symbolize fertility, and specifically to bring sons. 

USDA hardiness zone: 4-9

16. Lotus

Two pink lotus flowers blooming

In Buddhism, the lotus is a symbol of enlightenment, purity, and renewal. Its association with purity comes from the way the lotus flower emerges from the mud and murky water, a pure and perfect bloom. Lotus flowers are among the oldest plants on earth, with fossil evidence placing them before the Ice Age.

USDA hardiness zone: 4-11

17. Magnolia

Magnolia flowers blooming outside

This Chinese flower’s meaning comes from a poem written in 400 A.D., The Ballad of Mulan, which was later adapted as a Disney movie. Magnolia flowers were associated with the poem’s heroine, and represented her attributes of perseverance, honor, and dignity. Their spring blooms are often used in Chinese New Year celebrations.

USDA hardiness zone: 7-10

18. Marigolds

Bright orange marigold flowers blooming outside

Their resemblance to gold coins imbues marigolds with the ability to attract abundance, success, and prosperity, making them popular for Chinese New Year celebrations. Because marigolds’ fiery gold blooms resemble the sun, they are associated with the solar system and qualities like warmth and vitality.

USDA hardiness zone: 2-11

19. Orchid

Close-up of pink orchids flowering

Chinese philosopher Confucius characterized orchids as growing “where others cannot”, and likened the orchid to an honorable person, so they’re often given as an expression of respect and admiration. Representing spring in “The Four Gentlemen”, the orchid conveys humility, nobility, beauty, and good taste.

USDA hardiness zone: 3-9

20. Peony

White and pink peonies in an arrangement

In China, the peony’s name literally translates to “the most beautiful”, and it is indeed considered the country’s most beautiful flower, and symbolizes feminine beauty and love. Historically peonies were only enjoyed by royalty and the most elite, adorning extravagant homes and royal gardens. Peonies were the national flower during China’s Tang Dynasty, and are depicted in much of China’s classical art. Its associations in Chinese culture inform the peony’s symbolism of pride, honor, prosperity and wealth. The Luoyong Peony Festival is held every year from mid-April to mid-May.

USDA hardiness zone: 3-8

21. Plum Blossom

Pinkish plum blossom flowers growing outside

Plum blossom is China’s national flower, and symbolizes hope and new beginnings, emerging in early spring from the harsh remnants of winter. It’s also the fourth of “The Four Gentlemen”, representing inner beauty, humility, strength, and resolve. Plum blossoms are central to the celebrations during the Spring Festival in Chongqing, and there are numerous plum blossom festivals throughout China in the spring.

USDA hardiness zone: 4-9

22. Pomegranate

Pomegranate flower growing outside

Both the pomegranate fruit and the flower are favorite subjects in Chinese art, particularly ceramics. Their symbolism of fertility, abundance, prosperity, and successful offspring provides the motifs employed by artists. There are celebrations for the pomegranate tree during spring.

USDA hardiness zone: 7-10

23. Rose

Pink roses growing outside

The history of roses in China dates back over 5,000 years, to the Han Dynasty. The Chinese monthly rose blooms nearly year-round, lending to their symbolism in Chinese culture of longevity and eternal spring. The Chinese Rose Festival is held in Beijing, spanning 11 city parks, with roses planted throughout streets and alleyways. During the festival each spring, over 20 million rose plants are in bloom.

USDA hardiness zone: 5-8

More About Native Flowers

Flowers are one of the most universal languages we have. Everywhere in the world, flowers are there for our celebrations and sorrows, our milestones and our everyday experiences. But each culture uses and interprets flowers differently, weaving a floral tapestry that tells all our stories and connects us across oceans. 

Consider the subtle differences in Chinese flower symbolism and the cultural significance of Japanese flowers, or how Mexican flowers are interpreted. At The Bouqs, we’re committed not only to sustainably sourcing and  delivering the freshest, longest lasting bouquets and plants, but to provide helpful and interesting information to enrich and elevate your experience when ordering flowers online. Visit our website or one of our stores for all your floral needs, big or small!

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