We’re celebrating the Lunar New Year all month with food, dancing, drums, and, of course, plants! Many cultures use the lunar calendar, but the new year falling at this time of the year is important to Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and some Japanese communities. In every community that celebrates spring’s arrival, flowers and fruits are often used as decorations and gifts. The plants and flowers used during each community’s celebration is based on what is available to them given their climate, geography and cultural region. Below we share some of the plants that are important to Chinese and diaspora communities. After reading about each plant below, make sure to come and see them in person! When you arrive at the Garden for our Lunar New Year Celebration, you can grab a program with a map on the back that will lead you to these plants within our 87 acres. Enjoy!


Chinese/Japanese apricot/plum (Prunus mume): In classical Chinese culture, this winter-flowering tree is associated with winter and its blossoming heralds the start of spring. Its ability to bloom during the coldest months symbolizes perseverance and hope in the face of adversity. This tree is currently flowering in the Pollination Garden. 


Peach (Prunus persica): Peach blossoms symbolize growth and prosperity, and are also an important flower for Tết (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) in Northern Vietnam. Traditionally, branches from the peach tree were cut and brought indoors to encourage earlier blooms, a process called “forcing” in floriculture. Our double-flowered peaches don’t produce any fruit but there are several of them along Tram Road. These blooms are not blooming yet, but keep an eye out for them in the coming weeks. 


Water fairy flower (Narcissus tazetta): Native to the Mediterranean Basin, this wild daffodil species made its way to China via the Silk Road a long time ago. It became associated with the Lunar New Year due to its cheery colors, sweet scent and ease of forcing into bloom during winter. They are a symbol of good fortune and prosperity. The largest group of water fairy flowers is in the Amphitheatre Lawn but the sweet scented flower can be found blooming in various parts of the Garden.


Kumquat (Citrus japonica): Native to southern China, the winter-ripening fruit represents good luck. A potted kumquat plant covered in fruit and fragrant flowers is a popular decoration and snack. There is one kumquat tree located in the Dorothy and Allen Lay Staghorn Fern Collection and in the Rare Fruit Orchard. 


Mandarin (Citrus reticulata): Native to southern China, this winter-ripening fruit is beloved for its golden hue, roundness and sweet flesh. Paired with red envelopes, they make the perfect gift to wish loved ones good fortune and prosperity. A mandarin tree can be found in the Rare Fruit Orchard. 


Cymbidiums (Cymbidium goeringii, C. ensifolium, C. sinese): Representing fertility, abundance and good virtue, orchids are a popular modern decoration due to their availability and affordability today. The handful of classical species in the genus Cymbidium – i.e., Cymbidium goeringii, C. ensifolium, and C. sinense – were grown by ancient philosophers who immortalized them in poems and paintings. These plants are potted in plants and will be displayed on the Discovery Cart.


Make sure to come celebrate the Year of the Dragon and see our Lunar New Year Plants in person! For Garden Admission tickets, click here