The Mali are an occupational caste found among the Hindus who traditionally worked as gardeners. They also call themselves Phul Mali, who derived their names from their occupation of growing flowers. The Mali are found throughout North India, East India as well as the Terai region of Nepal and Maharashtra. Elements of the Mali community identify as Rajput Mali.

The word Mali is derived from Sanksrit mala (garland). People from the Mali community pursued various occupations and by virtue of this they were known accordingly. Thus,those worshiping deity known as Deuli Mali, gardening are known as Baghban, threshing/husking paddy as Dhankuta or Kuta Mali, doing grass cutting and selling as Sasia Mali, vegetable growers and sellers as Jadon Mali, and those growing flowers to the deity known as Phool Mali. Likewise, the Malis living near the river Ganges, Saharanpur and Haridwar are known as Bhagrathi Mali or Gola Mali. Likewise, there are Mathur Mali, Rohtaki Mali, Dilwali Mali and so on. Besides there are Mahar Mali, Var Mali, Kachchi Mali, Lodh Mali, Jeera Mali and Dhanya Mali. They are known as Mohal, Malaya, Malni, etc.
There are many endogamous groups within Malis. Not all Mali groups have the same origin, culture, history or social standing and there is at least one group from Rajasthan that overlaps with Rajputs and was included under Rajput sub-category in Marwar State Census Report of 1891 CE.