Skip to Content

26 Iconic Thai Flowers Meaningful to Thailand’s Culture

26 Iconic Thai Flowers Meaningful to Thailand’s Culture

Flowers have a universal role in expressing love and friendship, beautifying spaces, and providing natural remedies all around the world. Thailand also shares a great appreciation for the beauty and benefits of flowers.

These 26 flowers all hold special meaning in Thai culture and will surely be a welcome addition to your garden at home.

1. Golden Shower Flower

A golden flower tree in full bloom in Thailand.

The golden shower flower is also known as purging cassia, Indian laburnum, pudding-pipe tree, and ratchaphruek (royal tree).

It is the national flower of Thailand. The tree blooms so extensively that sometimes the leaves are no longer visible. Golden shower trees grow best in full sun and well-draining soil.

  • Botanical Name: Cassia fistula
  • Meaning: National flower (and tree) of Thailand
  • Common Colors: Yellow
  • Best for Growing Zones: 9b – 12
  • Light Requirements: Full sun

2. Lotus

Two pink Russian lotus flowers with yellow centers.

Lotus flowers are also known as Indian lotus or sacred lotus. This plant lives in bodies of water with the roots growing in the river bed and the flowers and leaves living at the surface of the water.

A unique trait of lotuses is that the seeds can remain viable for years of dormancy. The lotus is considered a sacred flower in Buddhism, the most common religion in Thailand. 

  • Botanical Name: Nelumbo nucifera
  • Meaning: Sacred flower in Buddhism
  • Common Colors: White, pink, yellow red, blue, purple
  • Popular Varieties: Sacred Pink, ‘Perry’s Giant Sunburst’, Chinese Double Rose
  • Best for Growing Zones: 5-11 (varies by variety)
  • Light Requirements: Partial to full sun

3. Orchid

Two magenta-and-pink lady slipper orchid flowers.

Thailand has over 1,000 different orchid species, and there are hundreds of orchid farms that export plants across the planet.

The flowers of Dendrobium orchids are battered and fried as food. Orchids make excellent houseplants and thrive in bright, indirect light. 

  • Botanical Name: Family Orchididae
  • Meaning: Love, passion
  • Common Colors: All except blue and black
  • Popular Varieties: Brassavola, Dendrobium, and Cymbidium
  • Best for Growing Zones: 6-11 (varies by variety)
  • Light Requirements: Bright, indirect light

4. Roses

A lovely rose with shades of pink and cream colors on the petals.

There are thousands of cultivars of roses that vary in color, size, and odor. Rose water and rose hips are commonly used in South Asian cuisine.

In many countries, including Thailand, the color of the rose changes the intended meaning behind it. 

  • Botanical Name: Rosa spp.
  • Meaning: Romance, friendship, love
  • Common Colors: Red, white, yellow, pink
  • Popular Varieties: ‘Abraham Darby’, ‘Fortune’s Yellow’, ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’
  • Best for Growing Zones: 5-10 (varies by variety)
  • Light Requirements: Full sun

5. Jasmine

The beautiful white flower of Arabian jasmine.

The white blooms of jasmine represent purity and the bond between a mother and child. Therefore, jasmine is a common flower gifted on Mother’s Day.

The fragrant flowers are commonly used for teas, perfumes, and beauty products. Although jasmine is not originally native to Thailand, it has been naturalized there for centuries. 

  • Botanical Name: Jasminum
  • Meaning: Purity, bond between mother and child
  • Common Colors: White
  • Popular Varieties: Star jasmine, Arabian jasmine
  • Best for Growing Zones: 7-10
  • Light Requirements: Full sun to partial shade

6. Hibiscus

A fully opened pink hibiscus flower.

Hibiscus, also known as roselle and rose mallow, is readily found in Northern Thailand. The flowers and fruits are used in teas and herbal treatments.

The Chinese hibiscus is the national flower of neighboring Malaysia. 

  • Botanical Name: Hibiscus spp. 
  • Meaning: Strength and perseverance 
  • Common Colors: pink, red, orange, yellow
  • Popular Varieties: Rose of Sharon, Chinese hibiscus
  • Best for Growing Zones: 5-11
  • Light Requirements: Full sun

7. Bird of Paradise

The intricate, detailed flower of the bird of paradise plant.

There are five species of birds of paradise that are all native to South Africa. Their unique flowers are regularly included in bouquets, but they are also found in landscaping throughout Thailand.

These tropical plants love humidity and full sun. 

  • Botanical Name: Strelitzia spp. 
  • Meaning: Determination, strength 
  • Common Colors: Orange, white
  • Popular Varieties: Strelitzia caudata, Strelitzia reginae
  • Best for Growing Zones: 10-12
  • Light Requirements: Full sun

8. Siam Tulip

The delicate purple flower of the Siam tulip.

The Siam tulip, also known as krachiao or summer tulip, is actually related to turmeric, not tulips. There is a festival honoring the Siam tulip held every summer in Northern Thailand. 

  • Botanical Name: Curcuma alismatifolia
  • Meaning: Prosperity, new growth, hope for the future
  • Common Colors: Pink, red
  • Popular Varieties: ‘Chaing Mai Red’, ‘Red Lip’, ‘Lanna Snow’
  • Best for Growing Zones: 8-11
  • Light Requirements: Shade, indirect light 

9. Gerbera Daisy

A gerbera daisy plant with four bright pink flowers.

Gerbera daisies are a popular flower for bouquets. They are grown around Thailand in flower farms that export flowers around the world.

As annuals, these flowers can grow in almost any climate as long as they receive full sun. 

  • Botanical Name: Gerbera spp. 
  • Meaning: Peace, fertility 
  • Common Colors: orange, yellow, pink, white 
  • Popular Varieties: ‘Orange Spider’, Transvaal Daisy
  • Best for Growing Zones: 8-11 (perennials), 3-11 (annuals)
  • Light Requirements: Full sun 

10. Bat Flower

The showy flower on a black bat plant or Tacca chantrieri.

The unique shape of this large, dark-colored flower resembles a bat flying in the forest. Bat flower, also known as devil flower, gives off a foul odor.

It enjoys growing in the humid understory of the jungles of Thailand. 

  • Botanical Name: Tacca chantrieri
  • Meaning: Bad luck
  • Common Colors: Deep purple-gray 
  • Best for Growing Zones: 9b-11  
  • Light Requirements: Shade

11. Lilies

A patch of cream-and-red lilies in full bloom.

Lilies are one of many flowers that grow from bulbs. In some cultures, lilies are seen as a symbol of a pure environment because they will only grow near clean water.

Lilies are commonly gifted around spring holidays. 

  • Botanical Name: Lilium spp. 
  • Meaning: Respect, rebirth, purity
  • Common Colors: White, pink, orange, yellow, red
  • Popular Varieties: ‘Sunray’, Turk’s Cap, ‘June Fragrance’
  • Best for Growing Zones: 4-9
  • Light Requirements: Partial shade to full sun

12. Peonies

Pink peonies blooming at the edge of a garden.

There are 33 different species of peonies. The large, fluffy blooms are highly sought after for wedding bouquets and floral arrangements.

In China, peonies have been used for decoration, in cuisine, and in teas for hundreds of years. 

  • Botanical Name: Paeonia spp. 
  • Meaning: Happy marriage, great shame
  • Common Colors: Pink, red, white, purple
  • Popular Varieties: ‘Ruth Clay’, ‘Bowl of Beauty’, ‘Claire de Lune’
  • Best for Growing Zones: 3-8
  • Light Requirements: Full sun 

13. Marigolds

A mass of red-and-orange marigolds blooming profusely in a raised concrete bed.

When King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand died in 2016, the country implemented a campaign to plant golden marigolds across the land to help usher the late king’s soul to heaven.

Marigolds, also known as dok dao ruang or Tagetes, are known for their golden yellow or orange blooms, which represent God’s perfect light.

Marigolds are commonly used as decorations and to make garlands for festivities and religious events. 

  • Botanical Name: Tagetes spp. 
  • Meaning: God’s perfect light, Monday
  • Common Colors:  Yellow, orange
  • Popular Varieties: Tagetes patula, Tagetes minuta, Tagetes erecta 
  • Best for Growing Zones: 2-11
  • Light Requirements: Partial shade to full sun 

14. Torch Ginger

The bold, large flower of the torch ginger plant.

Torch ginger, also known as red ginger lily, wild ginger, porcelain rose, wax flower, and torch lily, can bloom year-round.

In Thailand, it is used in salad preparation. Surrounding countries use different parts of the plant in various cooking methods. 

  • Botanical Name: Etlingera elatior
  • Meaning: Everlasting love
  • Common Colors: Red, pink, white
  • Best for Growing Zones: 10-12
  • Light Requirements: Shade

15. Daisies

Cute pink pom-pom flowers of the English daisy plant.

Daisy is a name used to describe flowers within the Asteracecae family, although the name most commonly references the English daisy (Bellis perennis).

Daisies invoke joy and happiness. The family includes edible and ornamental plants that can be found in many Thai gardens. 

  • Botanical Name: Asteraceae family (Bellis perennis)
  • Meaning: Friendship, humility
  • Common Colors: White, pink, yellow, orange, purple
  • Popular Varieties: Gerberas, coneflowers, shasta, Bellis
  • Best for Growing Zones: 3-10 (varies by variety) 
  • Light Requirements: Full sun 

16. Asters

Several pink China aster flowers.

Asters provide food for caterpillars from many different butterfly species. Aster are a member of the daisy family that are best known for their lilac or purple blooms, even though there are a variety of colors. 

  • Botanical Name: Aster spp. 
  • Meaning: love, faith 
  • Common Colors: purple, pink, white
  • Popular Varieties: Blue wood, calico, New England
  • Best for Growing Zones: 3-10 (varies by variety) 
  • Light Requirements: Full sun 

17. Gladiolus

Tall, pink flower spike of gladiolus with many more in the background.

Gladiolus, also known as sword lily, has tall flower stalks with multiple blooms. These flowers are grown for the cut flower industry and exported around the world.

Gladiolus are grown from corms and are cultivated similarly to bulb flowers. 

  • Botanical Name: Gladiolus spp. 
  • Meaning: Heroism, strength 
  • Common Colors: Pink, purple, white
  • Popular Varieties: ‘Jester’, pastel mix, ‘Black Beauty’ 
  • Best for Growing Zones: 7-10
  • Light Requirements: Partial shade to full sun 

18. Tulips

A group of orange and yellow tulips blooming.

Tulips are iconic flowers known for their petals that stand vertically. The height of the Ottoman empire helped to spread tulips far and wide.

The Siam tulip is well-known in Thailand, but it is actually not related to tulips at all. 

  • Botanical Name: Tulipa spp. 
  • Meaning: Perfect love
  • Common Colors: Red, yellow, pink, white
  • Popular Varieties: Darwin hybrid, double, triumph 
  • Best for Growing Zones: 3-8
  • Light Requirements: Full sun 

19. Zinnias

A large patch of orange zinnias in full bloom.

Zinnias are related to sunflowers within the daisy family. This is just one of the many flowers grown in Thailand’s flower industry, which produces plants for cut flowers and landscaping. 

  • Botanical Name: Zinnia spp. 
  • Meaning: Friendship, remembrance, affection
  • Common Colors: Yellow, pink, orange, purple
  • Popular Varieties: ‘California Giant’, ‘Crystal White’, ‘Double Zahara Yellow’
  • Best for Growing Zones: 3-10
  • Light Requirements: Full sun 

20. Hydrangea

Various shades of blue and purple hydrangea flowers.

Hydrangea, also known as hortensia, is a unique plant because the soil acidity changes the color of the flowers.

Acidic soil (0-5.5) will produce blue petals, mildly acidic soil (5.5-6.5) will produce purple petals, and neutral to basic soil (6.5-14) will produce pink petals.

Historically, blue hydrangeas have been prized, but pink hydrangeas are gaining popularity, especially in Asia. 

  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea spp. 
  • Meaning: Gratitude, grace, beauty 
  • Common Colors: Blue, purple, pink
  • Popular Varieties: ‘Limelight’, ‘Pinky Winky’, ‘Little Quick Fire’
  • Best for Growing Zones: 4-9
  • Light Requirements: Partial shade to full sun 

21. Plumeria

White-and-yellow flowers of the frangipani, or plumeria, plant.

Plumeria, also known as frangipani in Thailand, is an easy-to-grow tropical plant. Some folklore says that spirits and ghosts seek shelter within the plumeria trees. Therefore, they have been associated with bad luck.

The blooms are commonly used for garlands and decorations. 

  • Botanical Name: Plumeria spp. 
  • Meaning: bad luck, connected to spirits
  • Common Colors: Pink, white, yellow
  • Popular Varieties:  ‘Thailand Red’, ‘Makaha Sunn’, ‘Candy Stripe’ 
  • Best for Growing Zones: 9-12
  • Light Requirements: Full sun 

22. Alstroemerias

Lovely white Alstroemerias in full bloom.

Alstroemerias, also known as Peruvian lilies or lilies of the Incas, are native to South America. They have been introduced to Thailand for cultivation. 

  • Botanical Name: Alstoemeria spp. 
  • Meaning: Friendship, good luck
  • Common Colors: White, orange, pink, yellow, purple
  • Popular Varieties: ‘Butterscotch’, ‘Adonis’, ‘Antarctica’ 
  • Best for Growing Zones: 8-10
  • Light Requirements: Partial shade to full sun 

23. Magnolia

The delicate white bloom of magnolia champaca.

There are a number of species of magnolia that are native to Thailand and a few landscape varieties that have been introduced.

Most magnolias produce white flowers, but some varieties can produce orange or pink flowers. These plants are known for the strong fragrance from the blooms. 

  • Botanical Name: Magnolia spp. 
  • Meaning: Purity, nobility
  • Common Colors: White, pink, orange
  • Popular Varieties: Magnolia champaca, Magnolia coco
  • Best for Growing Zones: 7-9
  • Light Requirements: Light shade to full sun 

24. Chrysanthemum

Bright orange chrysanthemums in full bloom.

Chrysanthemums, also known as mums or chrysanths, signify life and rebirth in Asia. In Thailand, dried chrysanthemum flowers are used to make a chilled tea called nam gek huey

  • Botanical Name: Chrysanthemum spp. 
  • Meaning: Friendship, happiness
  • Common Colors: White, yellow, purple, red
  • Popular Varieties: Single, spider, anemone
  • Best for Growing Zones: 3-9 (varies by variety)
  • Light Requirements: Full sun

25. Freesia

A sprig of white freesia flowers on green background.

Freesia flowers are fragrant and funnel shaped. The blooms and essential oils are used in beauty products and candles.

  • Botanical Name: Freesia spp. 
  • Meaning: Innocence, friendship
  • Common Colors: White, yellow, pink
  • Popular Varieties: ‘Allure’, ‘Golden Wave’, Snowden
  • Best for Growing Zones: 3-10 (annuals in 3-8)
  • Light Requirements: Partial shade to full sun 

26. Giant Rafflesia

A giant Rafflesia flower - the largest flower in the world.

Giant rafflesia, also known as giant padma or corpse flower, produces the largest flower in the world.

It takes nine months for the bud to fully bloom into a flower, and the flower only lasts a few days. The flowers give off a rotten odor. 

  • Botanical Name: Rafflesia arnoldii
  • Meaning: Death
  • Common Colors: Red 
  • Light Requirements: Shade

These 26 flowers are all popular and well known in Thailand. They each hold specific meaning in the culture, but most can be grown easily in your home or garden to bring a Thailand-like atmosphere to your surroundings.

While you may not have room to try all 26 plants, at least make it a point to add a few to your landscape – you’ll be rewarded with beauty for years to come.