Vietnamese Tet Flowers, Lucky Plants & Tree Markets

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Tet is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year Celebration that comes every year in January or February. It is an extremely important part of Vietnamese culture, and the most powerful symbols of Tet are the lucky plants and exotic flowers used to decorate. The fauna of Tet comes in a variety of festive colors, but red and yellow are the main ones. This is partly due to all the special plants that are used to decorate homes, streets, and buildings during the lunar new year.

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 blossom – peaceful and elegant

In Northern Vietnam, peach blossoms take 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 use gold spray paint on the peach blossom tree branches.

Ethnic minorities 7living 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

vietnamese tet flowers
A close up of Hoa Mai. Photo by Duyet Le.

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 are a variety of traditional Tet flowers 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. Blossoms with a bright yellow color and 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 its 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 and fortune.

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. After being harvested, they are said to bring great fortune to family members who see or eat them during Tet.

vietnamese tet flowers
Kumquat – Enduring symbol of Tet | Culture – Sports | Vietnam+ (VietnamPlus)

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. 

Check out our deep-dive on the kumquat and other exotic Vietnamese fruits.

Are Tet Flower Traditions Different In Different Parts of Vietnam?

Peach blossom 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 blossoms flourish in cold climates like Hanoi during the early spring, whereas Ochna integerrima thrives best in tropical environments with a lot of sunshine like the more tropical South Vietnam.

Tet Flowers And Trees

vietnamese tet flowers
Flowers, Tea, Fruit – Setting the Scene for TET

Tet holiday is recognized for the careful selection and prominently displayed use of trees bursting with flowers in both commercial and residential settings.

Bonsai and other key Vietnamese Lunar New Year flowers

Cuc Van Tho – Marigolds – a symbol of longevity

The marigold is one of the most popular Tet flowers. 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

vietnamese tet flowers
A flower market in Go Vap, Ho Chi Minh city. Photo by VNExpress

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 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.

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  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.

Dam Sen

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. It is always decorated with thousands of traditional Tet flowers and lights to celebrate the holiday season.

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.

vietnamese tet flowers
Locals buying flowers to decorate their house for Tet. Photo by VNExpress

Embrace the Beauty of Tet!

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 yearto discover the most vibrant flowers in this tropical country!

And if you want to learn more about Tet traditions, head over to our complete guide to Tet in Vietnam. You will also want to learn how to wish people a happy new year in Vietnamese.

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Huan Phu
Editor at Vietnam Is Awesome
Unearthing untold stories in the heart of Vietnam. Your eyes to the unseen, your voice to the unheard. Exploring the rich tapestry of this nation, one headline at a time. Join me on this journalistic journey!

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