Vietnamese Tet Flowers, Lucky Plants & Tree Markets
Do you have a love for exotic flowers, traditions, and stories? Well, Tet is the right celebration for you.
Tet is a traditional Vietnamese holiday celebrated in Tet Nguyen Dan (The first day in the lunar calendar). This important celebration in Vietnam comes in a variety of festive colours, but red and yellow are mainly what you see, partly due to all the special plants that are used to decorate homes, streets, and buildings during the lunar new year.
The Top 3 Lucky Plants And Flowers For Tet:
- Peach flower (Hoa Dao),
- Ochna integerrima (Hoa Mai)
- Marumi kumquat (Cay quat)
Are Tet Flower Traditions Different In Vietnam?
Peach flower and marumi kumquat are popular in the North, whereas Ochna integerrima is preferred in the South for Tet holidays. Another factor is that the plants' characteristics differ: Marumi kumquat and Peach flowers flourish in cold climates, whereas Ochna integerrima thrives best in tropical environments with a lot of sunshine.
Tet Flowers And Trees
Tet holiday is recognized for the careful selection and prominently displayed use of trees bursting with flowers in both commercial and residential settings.
There are quite a lot of different kinds of flowers for Tet, but the most popular are listed below. Generally, red flowers are usually symbols of luck (Peach flower) while yellow (Yellow apricot) is for prosperity and protection against spirits.
Hoa Dao - Peach blossoms - peaceful and elegant
In Northern Vietnam, peach blossoms take the center stage. In Hanoi, the rosy-pink Tet blooms are believed to be portents of good fortune. The most brightly colored ones are the most popular.
In Northern Vietnam, peach trees blossom pink petals early. As a result, Vietnamese people claim that the blooms have a "Braveheart" because they bloom while other plants are dormant.
Vietnamese tradition also holds that the peach blossoms (Hoa Dao) keep the family peaceful and healthy. Sometimes, people spray gold branches to complement peach blossom trees.
Ethnic minority people living in northwest mountainous regions of Vietnam also have their own type of peach blossom. From Mai Chau, Moc Chau to Sapa, Ha Giang, peach flowers bloom throughout the hillsides in early February. That’s the signal that the cold winter passes through and the warm sunshine of spring comes very soon.
Choosing the most awesome peach blossoms
The best-looking tree must have a lot of thick, red-pink flowers, a few young green leaves and a big and well-shaped trunk.
And for the weather, colder is better. Hot weather makes peach trees bloom too early. So make sure to turn on the air conditioner so the temperature is best for the tree to bloom right before Tet.
Hoa Mai - Ochna integerrima (Yellow apricot flower) - bright and shinning
Unlike the north, the star of the "Tet show" in Southern Vietnam is called Hoa Mai, a.k.a yellow flowers or ochna integerrima. Yellow Tet flowers with two or three yellow petals convey a wish for prosperity in the New Year.
They are also called yellow apricot flower blooms; however, that's not really a correct term as it was a mistranslation when people tried to name it but ochna integerrima is totally different from apricot blossoms.
Hoa Mai is a Tet flowering plant that represents luck, happiness and joy. This kind of Tet flower blooms in early spring right before Tet, when everything is still bare. That's why yellow apricot flowers are seen as the embodiment of Tet.
The best Hoa Mai
The Hoa Mai tree that produces 10-12cm blossoms and have a bright yellow color with five petals per branch is considered the best.
What makes the yellow mai flower tree special is the high rate of blossom of the flower in Tet holidays, which symbolizes the wealth and passionate love among people.
Quat tree - Kumquat tree - lucky and fruitful
The kumquat tree, which is not known for it's flower, is important in Vietnamese Tet customs as well. As Tet falls in Spring, the kumquat tree produces lovely little fruits right before Tet; it is an embodiment of Tet due to its bright colors. Quat trees stand for immediate wealth as their deep orange fruits symbolize fruitfulness.
At Tet, you can't miss kumquat trees because Vietnamese believe that seeing them heralds prosperity. The fruit of the lucky plants itself is small, cute, and very sweet so everyone loves it! Moreover, kumquat trees are believed to be "full of money. After being harvested, they are said to bring great fortune to family members who see or eat them during Tet.
Choose the best Kumquat
Vietnamese people look for a kumquat tree with many fruits of similar size (both ripe and green) and big, glossy leaves for the greatest luck. The more fruit on the lucky plants, the more luck for the family.
Along with kumquat fruit, check out other Vietnamese strange and exotic fruits here
Bonsai and other key Vietnamese Lunar New Year flowers
Cuc Van Tho - Marigolds - a symbol of longevity
One other thing not to miss is the ever-popular 'Mary's gold'. Vietnamese culture sees the color of the flower as representative of prosperity and long life.
For this reason, it's very common for Vietnamese people to give a marigold as a present on Tet. The flower and its pot will remind the receiver that even though they may be far away, their presence remains with their loved ones back home. As such, they are commonly given between family members who live apart or who come together only for special occasions like Tet.
Hoa Giay - Paper Flowers - Bougainvillea
In addition to apricot, peach blossoms, and kumquat, which are popular bonsai potted trees for Tet decorations, gardeners of Tet markets have provided customers with other new products, including imported multicolor bougainvillaea, with a price up to millions of Vietnamese dong.
The bougainvillea tree with leaves just starting to show color at Tet time has been an auspicious sign for many years. In addition, it represents luck, happiness and joy. That's why wealthy families always decorate their houses with bougainvilleas during Tet festivals!
But beware, because the blossoms are mostly in full bloom (or about to open), they can drop flowers and petals in your car or yard, which can be a pain to clean up.
Bougainvillaea is also grown on local streets, at coffee shops, and especially around resorts in the tourism wards of coastal Vietnam thanks to their ability to tolerate the dry weather which abounds in the tropical coastal city.
Hoa Mao ga - Cock's comb flowers - Celosia cristata
Mao ga flower is considered a bridge to connect the two worlds of yin and yang and the path the ancestral souls take from the sacred world to the place of worship. So having Mao ga flowers for Tet holiday is also considered good fortune as the ancestors would provide luck and prosperity to those who own them.
The cockscomb flower is an annual addition to the flower bed, commonly named for the red variety similarly colored to the cock’s comb on a rooster’s head. Cockscomb, Celosia cristata, traditionally grown in the red variety, also blooms in yellow, pink, orange, and white.
Things To Do: Visit A Flower Market In Vietnam
If you want to experience the Tet spirit in Vietnam, don't wait till February to look for flowers. Vietnamese people typically begin preparing for Lunar New Year days or weeks before it begins.
One of the best places to get flowers is, of course, a flower market - and Vietnam has hundreds.
The busy scene of flower markets as Tet approaches can bring on both excitement and nostalgia for Vietnamese people, but for tourists, it's a new world of sights, smells, and festive spirit.
Flower Markets in Hanoi - Northern Vietnam
There are many flower markets in Vietnam, but the most famous ones are in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. The markets are busiest in the days leading up to Tet, when vendors sell flowers and plants that are traditionally used in Tet celebrations.
The markets in Hanoi are also popular tourist attractions, and they offer a glimpse into the traditional Vietnamese culture. Visitors can buy lucky plants and flowers that are used in Tet celebrations, or they can simply enjoy the hustle and bustle of the markets.
Famous flower markets in Hanoi
Quang Ba market
The first place that I would like to mention is Quang Ba market which is the biggest flower market in the North of Vietnam, where first-hand sellers come here and trading with each other and buyers every day.
Hoang Hoa Tham road
Also referred to as Bonsai Street, this pretty street of Hanoi is about 3 km long. It starts from Phan Dinh Phung Street and extends to Buoi market Most Hanoians will pay a visit here to choose flowers and plants for Tet.
This street holds an ancient traditional ornamental plant fair every month, and it becomes a hotspot before Tet, when many sellers will sell flowers all day long.
Check out: How to get around Hanoi
Flower Markets in Ho Chi Minh city - Southern Vietnam
The busiest time for flower markets in Saigon is the week leading up to Tet. This is when vendors sell flowers and plants that are traditionally used in Tet celebrations.
Many of the markets are located in popular tourist areas, and they offer a glimpse into the traditional Vietnamese culture. Visitors can buy flowers, fruits, and other plants that are used in Tet celebrations, or they can simply enjoy the hustle and bustle of the markets.
Famous flower markets in Saigon
Ho Thi Ky
This market is a “non-sleeping market” as it is open 24/7 by wholesaling at night and retailing in the daytime.
This area becomes a beehive of activity once the weather warms up. It's especially busy during the spring when thousands of sellers and buyers come to trade or enjoy the beauty of flowers and the vibrant atmosphere.
Besides Ho Thi Ky, Ho Chi Minh City also has another famous flower market: Dam Sen (meaning Lotus Pond). While the Ho Thi Ky market has been open for generations, the Dam Sen market was opened in 2000 and is considered a new flower market.
More modern than others, Dam Sen market is also less crowded than Ho Thi Ky, making it ideal for buyers and tourists who don't want to crowd around flower stalls and want to leisurely enjoy browsing flowers.
Tip: If you want to take photos or to enjoy the beauty of Tet flowers, check out Nguyen Hue walking street as it is always decorated with thousands of beautiful flowers and lights.
Flower markets also often spring up in public parks. In Ho Chi Minh City, the usual spots for flower trading are: 23/9 Park, Le Van Tam Park, and Gia Dinh Park.
Like photography? Check out 8 Instagram worthy places in Saigon
Tet holiday is the most important event in Vietnam. It is a time for family to come together and celebrate the New Year with good luck flowers (peach flower), bonsai trees or other symbols of prosperity like kumquat fruit.
If you are a flower blossom enthusiast, don’t miss the chance to plan a journey around Vietnam at any time of the year to discover the most vibrant flowers in this tropical country!