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Chinese Flower Symbolism | A Comprehensive Guide

Flowers have been an integral part of Chinese culture for thousands of years. They are used in various settings, such as weddings, funerals, and religious ceremonies.

Each flower has its own symbolic meaning and is believed to carry its unique energy and power.

Here is a brief overview of some of the most popular Chinese flowers and their meanings:

Chinese Flower Symbolizing Love: Orchid-兰花 (lán huā)

In Chinese culture, the orchid is often associated with love and romance due to its delicate beauty and graceful appearance. The orchid represents a refined and sophisticated beauty that is highly valued in Chinese culture, and is seen as a symbol of love that transcends social status and material wealth.

The orchid’s association with love can also be traced back to its symbolism in Chinese poetry and literature. Many famous Chinese poets have written about the orchid in their works, using the flower as a metaphor for love and passion.

The orchid’s beauty, fragrance, and elegance are often described in poetic language, evoking feelings of desire, longing, and affection.

Furthermore, the orchid’s ability to grow and flourish in difficult conditions is seen as a reflection of the enduring nature of true love. Just like the orchid, love requires patience, care, and attention to thrive, and is often tested by life’s challenges and obstacles.

The orchid’s resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity are therefore seen as qualities to be admired and emulated in a loving relationship.

Overall, the orchid’s association with love and romance in Chinese culture is a testament to its timeless beauty and enduring appeal, as well as its ability to inspire feelings of passion, desire, and affection in those who admire it.

Flower for Good Luck in China: The Narcissus-水仙花 (shuǐ xiān huā)

The narcissus is another popular flower in China and is believed to bring good luck and prosperity. It is often associated with the Chinese New Year and is used in decorations and gifts during this festive season.

The narcissus is also believed to represent new beginnings, and it is often given as a gift to wish someone success in their endeavors.

What Color Flower is Lucky in Chinese?

In Chinese culture, the color of a flower can also have symbolic significance, and certain colors are believed to be lucky or auspicious.

Flower ColorSymbolism
RedLuck, happiness, success, and good fortune. Red flowers, such as peonies and roses, are often given as gifts during festivals and celebrations to bring luck and prosperity.
PinkLove, romance, and friendship. Pink flowers, such as cherry blossoms and lotus, are popular choices for weddings and other romantic occasions, as they express affection and goodwill.

Bad Luck Flowers in Chinese Culture

In Chinese culture, there are several flowers that are believed to bring bad luck and misfortune. These include:

Flower NameColorBad MeaningOccasion Not to Give
White ChrysanthemumWhiteDeath, FuneralsAny happy occasion, such as weddings or birthdays
Yellow HydrangeaYellowHeartlessness, FrigidityWeddings or romantic occasions
Yellow ChrysanthemumYellowDespair, SadnessGift-giving, as it symbolizes the end of a relationship

You need to be careful with the color when you buy flowers for loved ones in China. Not every pretty flowers have good meaning.

(Check other gift ideas for Chinese girlfriend here.)

Lucky Feng Shui Flower: The Lilies-百合 (bǎi hé)

  • Lilies are often considered a lucky feng shui flower because they are believed to bring peace, purity, and abundance into the home. In feng shui, the white color of lilies represents the metal element, which is associated with clarity, precision, and focus. This is thought to bring a calming energy to the space, promoting a sense of harmony and balance.
  • Moreover, lilies are also believed to symbolize fertility, new beginnings, and growth. This makes them a popular flower for use in feng shui practices related to family, creativity, and career advancement. They are often placed in areas of the home associated with these aspects of life, such as the east (which represents family) or the southeast (which represents wealth and abundance).
  • In addition to their symbolic meanings, lilies are also prized for their beauty and fragrance. Their delicate, trumpet-shaped flowers and sweet, lingering scent can help to uplift the mood and create a welcoming atmosphere in the home.

Overall, lilies are a popular choice for those seeking to enhance the feng shui of their home or workspace. They are believed to bring a sense of calm, balance, and abundance, while also promoting creativity and growth.

Chinese Flower Meaning Strength: The Bamboo-竹子 (zhú zi)

While not a flower in the traditional sense, the bamboo is a popular plant in Chinese culture and is often associated with strength and resilience. You will agree if you read bamboo story.

It is believed to represent the ability to bend without breaking and is often used in martial arts and other physical practices. These days also used for bamboo fiber blankets and keyboards.

Flowers in Chinese Art: Symbolism and Meaning

Flowers have played a significant role in Chinese art, and they are often used to convey specific meanings and symbolism.

In traditional Chinese paintings, flowers are often depicted with other objects or animals to create a harmonious composition.

For example, the peony is often depicted with butterflies, which are a symbol of joy and happiness, while the orchid is often depicted with the bamboo, which is a symbol of strength and resilience.

Chinese Traditional Flower: Peony-牡丹 (mǔ dān)

The peony, also known as the “king of flowers,” is a beloved symbol of Chinese culture and a staple in traditional Chinese art and literature. With its lush petals and vibrant colors, the peony has captured the hearts of people across generations, inspiring countless poems, paintings, and stories.

But the peony is much more than just a pretty flower. In Chinese tradition, it holds deep symbolic meaning, representing prosperity, honor, and romance. It is often used in auspicious occasions, such as weddings and business openings, to bring good fortune and blessings.

Peony is considered the national flower of China due to its significant cultural and historical importance in the country. It has been cultivated in China for over 1,500 years and has been a favorite of Chinese emperors and poets alike.

During the Tang Dynasty, the peony became a symbol of wealth and status, and was widely grown in the imperial gardens. The flower also appeared in many pieces of Chinese art, including paintings and porcelain, as well as in traditional Chinese medicine.

In 1903, the Qing dynasty government officially declared the peony as the national flower of China, recognizing its cultural significance and its status as one of the most beloved flowers in the country. Today, the peony remains a cherished symbol of Chinese culture, representing prosperity, good fortune, and beauty.

Chinese Flower Symbolizing Happiness: The Daffodil-水仙花 (shuǐ xiān huā)

The daffodil is a popular flower in Chinese culture and is often associated with happiness and good fortune. It is believed to represent the arrival of spring and is often used in decorations and gifts during the spring season.

In Chinese art, the daffodil is often depicted as a symbol of renewal and rebirth.

Chinese Flower Symbolizing Peace and Beauty: The Lotus-莲花 (Liánhuā)

The lotus is one of the most significant flowers in Chinese culture and is often associated with peace, beauty, and purity. It is believed to represent the journey towards enlightenment, as it grows from the mud at the bottom of a pond to bloom in the sunlight.

In Chinese art, the lotus is often depicted with other objects, such as fish or dragons, to create a harmonious composition.

The Role of Flowers in Traditional Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, flowers are often used for their healing properties. For example, the chrysanthemum is believed to have a cooling effect on the body and is often used to treat headaches and fever, while the lotus is believed to promote relaxation and calmness.

Meaning of Other Chinese Flowers

Iris ( 花菖蒲 – huā chāng pǔ): The iris symbolizes purity, friendship, and loyalty in Chinese culture. It is often given as a gift to express admiration and respect towards a friend or loved one. Additionally, it is sometimes used in Chinese weddings to represent the bride’s pure and loyal heart. You can give a bouquet of irises to a friend or loved one on their birthday or on any occasion to express your admiration for them.

Magnolia ( 玉兰 – yù lán): Magnolia flowers represent dignity, beauty, and nobility in Chinese culture. White Magnolia is the city flower of Shanghai. They are often used to symbolize the beauty and grace of a woman or to convey a sense of respect and admiration towards someone. Magnolias are commonly given as gifts on Mother’s Day or to congratulate someone on a new job or achievement.

Hibiscus ( 木槿 – mù jǐn): The hibiscus flower is a symbol of beauty, fame, and wealth in Chinese culture. It is often associated with the arrival of summer and is used in traditional Chinese medicine to promote good health and relieve stress. In Chinese weddings, hibiscus flowers are used to symbolize the bride’s delicate beauty and grace. You can give a hibiscus plant or bouquet as a gift to congratulate someone on their achievements or to wish them good health and happiness.


Flowers have played a significant role in Chinese culture for thousands of years, and they are often used to symbolize different aspects of life, from love and happiness to death and mourning.

Each flower has its unique meaning and symbolism, and they are often used in art, literature, and everyday life. Whether you’re interested in growing Chinese flowers or learning more about their symbolic meanings, there is always more to discover.

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