Chinese Significance of plants

bamboo in planter

Bamboo — A symbol for youth and longevity (it’s always got green shoots) as well as strength and grace (it bends readily but doesn’t break easily). In Chinese philosophy the straight stem of bamboo symbolizes the path towards enlightenment, the segments of the stem being the steps along the way.

Chrysanthemum — joviality. Excellent when presented as a gift to someone, the Chrysanthemum signifies a life of ease. Buddhists are fond of using this flower as offerings on alters. Symbolic of powerful Yang energy, this fall flower is an attractant of good luck in the home.

Citron — Also known as the Buddha’s hand, the finger-shaped Citron stand for luck and happiness. It is known as the Buddha’s hand because the upturned petals of the Citron are reminiscent of the upturned fingers of the Buddha’s meditative position.

Daisy — The most basic of flowers, a white daisy is a symbol of innocence.

Hydrangea — A symbol expressing love, gratitude, and enlightenment. It is said that the observer can easily get lost in its abundance of beautiful petals, and thus gets lost in one’s own thoughts — propitiating higher thought and reaching enlightenment. Due to its versatility, and beauty, the hydrangea makes an excellent thank you gift to an unsung hero in our lives.

Jasmine — This strongly scented, white flower is used as a Hindu symbol for love.

Juniper — Symbolizes chastity because juniper berries are protected by the tree’s thorny leaves (juniper wood is supposedly never attacked by bugs or worms).

Lotus — Symbolizes birth and rebirth, fertility, creation and purity because it rises untainted and beautiful from the mud. Every part of the plant, from roots to petals can be put to good use and has medicinal properties.

Narcissus — rejuvenation. This Chinese flower symbol is said to bestow the flowering of our hidden talents. It is reputed to augment the hard work put into careers, assuring those with careers will be rewarded when incorporating this auspicious symbol in their lives. As such, the Narcissus is an excellent gift for those who are seeking career advancement and luck. It was used this year on the Chinese New Year US postage stamp.

Orchid — Symbol of perfection and endurance. Emblematic of fertility, this flower encourages plenty of progeny, abundance, and higher growth. When we focus on the endless loveliness of this flower we are able to open the flow of exotic beauty and prosperity in our lives.

Peach — friendship

Pear — longevity

Peony — wealth. Esteemed as one of the most exquisite flowers, the peony is a symbol for nobility and value. The peony became popular in the imperial palaces during the Sui and Tang dynasties, and earned the title of the king of flowers. A symbol of spring, it is also used as a metaphor for female beauty and reproduction. Pictured in full bloom, the peony symbolizes peace.

Pine — longevity

Plum — beauty & youth

Pomegranate — fertility

Rose — beauty

Sunflowers — As a flower which blindly follows the sun, sunflowers have become a symbol of infatuation or foolish passion according to contemporary western thinking.

Tangerine — wealth

Willow — grace

This is an excerpt from our Feng Shui for Landscape and Garden lecture handouts. If you would like to host or attend an event in Chicago or Milwaukee, please let me know.

Update from March 2019

Acadia – stability
Apple – feminine beauty, peace
Apricot – fair sex, slanting eyes
Azalea – fair sex
Bamboo – filial piety, youth
Chrysanthemum – mid-autumn, joviality, the rising sun
Cypress – royalty
Jasmine – fair sex and sweetness, friendship
Lotus – summer, fruitfulness
Magnolia – feminine sweetness and beauty

magnolia flower

Mulberry – industry, the comforts of home filial piety
Narcissus – rejuvenation, good fortune for the coming year
Oak – masculine strength
Oleander – beauty and grace
Orange – presented at Chinese New Year betokens abundant happiness and prosperity for the New Year
Orchid – love and beauty. It stands for fragrance and refinement, numerous progeny – the embodiment of the perfect or superior man, endurance
Palm tree – happy retirement
Peach – marriage, immortality and springtime friendship
Pear – emblem of wise and benevolent administration or good government, longevity, justice and purity
Peony – love and affections symbol of feminine beauty, omen of good fortune
Persimmon (date plum) – joy
Pine – longevity; metaphorically, friends who remain constant in adversity
Plum – winter, beauty and youth
Pomegranate – posterity, numerous virtuous offspring rising to fame and glory – fertility
Rose – beauty
Stone – reliability and hardness
Willow – Spring, Buddhist symbol of meekness, fair sex, waistline