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Chinese Guide to Flower Culture in China

by | Mar 19, 2024

Flower Culture | That's Mandarin

As the blossoming season approaches, you can see the floral touch of spring everywhere around. Peaches, cherries, magnolias, and other beautiful flowers and trees have already begun to bloom 🌸 Learn all you need to know about flower culture in China, and discover where to see the spring blossoms in Shanghai and Beijing.

Blossoms | That's Mandarin

Flower Culture: Importance of Flowers

For centuries, 花 (huā), flowers have been important in Chinese culture. They’ve appeared in many poems, paintings, culinary, and also took part in traditional ceremonies and festivals.

01. Flowers of the Four Seasons

The Flowers of the Four Seasons is a Chinese idea that shows how different flowers represent each season. The concept reflects the Chinese appreciation for the beauty of nature and the cyclical rhythms of life.

Flower | That's Mandarin

Sìjì Mínghuā
Flowers of the Four Seasons
(lit. “four-season-famous-flower”)

The flowers that represent each of the four seasons consist of:

  • Spring: 春兰 (chūn lán), orchid
  • Summer: 夏荷 (xià hé), lotus
  • Autumn: 秋菊 (qiū jú), chrysanthemum
  • Winter: 冬梅 (dōng méi), plum blossom

02. Symbolizm of Flowers

Flowers hold deep symbolic meanings in Chinese culture, often representing virtues, emotions, and natural elements. Here are some of the most popular flowers in China and their cultural symbolism:

🌸 Peony (牡丹, mǔdān): prosperity, wealth, and honor.
It’s often called the “king of flowers” and it was used to decorate emperors’ palaces.

🌸 Chrysanthemum (菊花, júhuā): longevity and nobility.
It’s often associated with autumn and featured on pottery, artwork, and clothing. Chrysanthemum tea is also great medicine for curing internal heat and fever.

🌸 Lotus (莲花, liánhuā): purity and perfection.
Lotus grows in muddy water but remains unstained, thus it symbolizing the ability to rise above hardships.

🌸 Orchid (兰花, lánhuā): beauty, elegance, and refinement.
Orchids are known for their beauty and elegance in Chinese culture; they are used to describe something of great beauty.

🌸 Plum Blossom (梅花, méihuā): resilience and hope.
Plum blooms in the harsh winter, symbolizing the ability to overcome adversity.

Giving Flowers: Do’s and Don’ts

If you decide to give flowers to a friend or colleague, be aware of the cultural significance of different flowers, especially on special occasions.

🚫 Never Give Chrysanthemums

In China, girls are happy to receive flowers. And yet, there is one flower that Chinese people would never give to someone as a present – a chrysanthemum. In Chinese culture, chrysanthemums are used to commemorate deceased family members, especially during the Tomb Sweeping Festival every year.

Roses, particularly red ones, are favored for their association with love and romance. Also flowers like lilies and tulips are a good choice for expressing love and admiration.

🚫 Avoid White Flowers

In Chinese culture, color symbolism is very significant. White is the color of mourning in China, so it’s best to avoid giving white flowers, especially if you’re going to present flowers at someone’s birthday.

Since colors are important in Chinese culture, here’s some ideas on choosing flower bouquet color:

🌹 红色 hóngsè ∙ red

Red symbolizes luck, happiness, and prosperity. Red flowers, such as roses, are great choice for celebrating joyous occasions like weddings or promotions.

🌷粉红色 fěnhóngsè ∙ pink

Pink represents romance, affection, and friendship. Pink flowers, like carnations or tulips, are suitable for expressing love and gratitude.

🌼 黄色 huángsè ∙ yellow

Yellow symbolizes warmth, joy, and positivity. Yellow flowers, such as sunflowers or daisies, are ideal for cheering up a friend or brightening someone’s day.

✅ Consider Chinese Numerology

In Chinese culture, certain numbers are believed to be auspicious (吉利 jílì) or inauspicious (不吉利 bù jílì) based on their pronunciation. Even numbers are generally considered lucky, so it’s common to give flowers in pairs or even numbers.

Floral Vocabulary 🌷

Here is some floral vocabulary related to buying flowers and discussing them with your Chinese friends.

01. Bouquet and Flowers

The word “花” (huā) is used to describe flowers in general. If you’re looking for fresh flowers to create a bouquet, you can say:

Tulips | That's Mandarin
fresh flowers

02. Measure Words

When discussing flowers or bouquets, you can use measure words such as:

  • 束 (shù), measure word for a bunch or bouquet of flowers
  • 朵 (duǒ), measure word for individual flowers or blossoms

Here are some sentences using measure words for flowers:

Wǒ mǎi le yí shù méigui huā
sòng gěi wǒ de māmā.
I bought a bunch of roses to give to my mom.

Wǒmen zài huāshì mǎi le sān duǒ bǎihé huā.
We bought three lilies at the flower market.

03. Flower Shop or Market

Here’s what you need to search for on Baidu Maps if you want to find a floral shop or market to buy fresh flowers.

Floral Shop | That's Mandarin
flower shop

flower market

Where to See Blossoms 🌸

Every year between March and April you can see thousands of trees starting to bloom.

What could be better than admiring these blossoming trees and enjoying the moment when the city is filled with the sweet scent of peach and cherry blossoms?

Blossoms | That's Mandarin
kāi huā
to bloom; to blossom
(lit. “to open-flower”)

Here are a few popular locations where you can see spring blossoms:

01. Cherry Blossoms in Gucun Park

Cherry Blossoms | That's Mandarin

cherry tree

⏰ Mar 11 – Apr 15
📍 Gucun Park, Shanghai
🚇 Take metro Line 7 to Gucun Park Station

Gucun Park, located in the Baoshan District of Shanghai, is popular for its breathtaking cherry blossoms. Each year, the park hosts the Cherry Blossom Festival, attracting visitors from near and far to enjoy the stunning display of pink and white flowers.

Gùcūn Gōngyuán
Gucun Park

02. Cherry Blossoms in Beijing

Yuyuantan Park is one of the largest parks in Beijing. With more than 2,000 cherry trees planted in the Cherry Garden, Yuyuantan Park is known as the best place to see cherry blossoms in Beijing.

Yùyuāntán Gōngyuán
Yuyuantan Park

⏰ Late March to late April
📍 Yuyuantan Park, Beijing
🚇 Take metro Line 1 to Muxidi Station

03. Oceans of Tulips in Shanghai

Tulips | That's Mandarin


Shanghai Flower Port, located nearby Dishui Lake in Shanghai, holds a Tulip Exhibition each year, and the flower display area, also known as “Tulip Park”, covers about 28 hectares, making it a perfect place to admire tulips.

Shànghǎi Xiānhuā Gǎng
Shanghai Flower Port

⏰ March to April
📍 Shanghai Flower Port
🚇 Take metro Line 16 to Lingang Avenue Station

04. Magnolias in Beijing & Shanghai

Magnolia | That's Mandarin

bái yùlán
white magnolia; Yulan magnolia

The Summer Palace in Beijing is an ideal spot for viewing magnolia blossoms and enjoying their beautiful fragrance.

The Summer Palace

When in Shanghai, don’t miss Century Park, one of the city’s most popular parks. Conveniently located in Pudong, this park is the perfect escape from the concrete jungle and admire the blossoming magnolia and other beautiful trees.

Shìjì Gōngyuán
Century Park

到你了 Your Turn!

There are many cool parks throughout Chinese cities where you can enjoy the beauty of the blossoming season. Now, it’s your turn to share with us in the comments:

Nǐ zuì xǐhuan nǎ yí gè gōngyuán?
What’s your favourite park?

Learn More About Life in China

Popular weekend activities, interesting facts about life of Chinese people, Chinese people’s hobbies, and more – learn more curious facts not only about flower culture, but about life in China with our special blog session.


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