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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Lush start to the year

As the Year of the Dragon beckons, here are 10 potted beauties you can get to give your home a festive feel
The Straits Times - January 14, 2012
By: Natasha Ann Zachariah
| More
Lush start to the year -- ST PHOTO JOYCE FANG

Dressing up your home or office with plants for Chinese New Year is set to be a roaring success, going by the numerous dragon-themed offerings at nurseries.

From a decorative 2m-long lingzhi dragon made out of mushroom heads going for $3,888 - two have already been sold - to a small dragon-shaped ficus bonsai at a more affordable $38, consumers are spoilt for choice in ushering in the Year of the Dragon with plants.

Nurseries have sent the rabbit back to its burrow and making the most of its fire-breathing replacement. And customers are biting.

Sing See Soon Floral & Landscape in Punggol East, for example, brought in 40 pots of Jing Long Shu golden dragon tree plant from China a week ago to test the market. 'Long' means dragon in Chinese. The $88 pots have been snapped up, with just six left.

Similarly, over at World Farm in Bah Soon Pah Road, more than 300 pots of Dragon Heart lime plants - brought in two weeks ago from China for their name and costing $148 for a 35cm pot - were all sold out earlier this week.

Sing See Soon's nursery director Daniel Ee says: 'People are looking for things related to the dragon. The name represents strength and prosperity so plants such as the Jing Long Shu are quite popular.'

Indeed, with just eight days to go before the first day of Chinese New Year, five of the bigger nurseries here say that they have been encouraged by the number of customers coming in early, despite the short run-up to Chinese New Year this year.

Sales and marketing director for Far East Flora Peter Cheok says: 'People were already coming in three weeks ago at the end of December to have a look at what's on offer. They are worried the good or popular plants will be taken up fast.'

The nurseries anticipate that the crowds will swell this weekend, given that it is the last weekend before the holiday.

Upping the ante in the fierce competition to slay - or wow - dragon-plant buyers is Ji Mei Flower in Joan Road. Like many others this year, the nursery has brought in azalea plants grown from their usual upright state to resemble a dragon's tail. But it has priced its azaleas at $150 each compared to $159 to $188 charged at other nurseries.

Ji Mei Flower managing director Chua Boon Kang says: 'While the plant types may be familiar to many, the presentation and design are different to add a different touch to cater to the dragon year.'

The rage for all things 'long' also saw Sing See Soon double its orders of Long Dan, a citrus plant, from 300 pots last year to 600 pots this year. Prices range from $68 for the smallest pot to $688 for the biggest.

While the mythical beast has nurseries fired up, they say that the bestsellers remain traditional favourites such as pussy willow, kalanchoes, four season limes and lucky bamboo, which signify luck and prosperity with their names or auspicious colours.

Prices are similar to last year's, and range from $5 for a pot of kalanchoes or chrysanthemums to $1,088 for a 182cm Japanese hai tang, or begonia, at Sing See Soon.

Housewife Jessica Lim, 44, who was checking out World Farm on Tuesday, plans to spend more than $200 on plants and flowers for her cluster house in Sembawang. She says: 'Flowers and plants are a must-have because they add to the festive mood with their colours and vibrancy. If they have symbolism because of their name or go with the dragon year, that's an added bonus.'

 Crinum superbum

What: It is hardly anything to look at or even festive, but this is a hot favourite for its lucky connotations. It is also known as the fa cai suan. Fa cai means getting rich in Mandarin, while suan, meaning count, also refers to how its stem resembles a leek, which has a similar sounding name. But it is non-edible. Grow it under partial shade.

Price: From $13 to $98 a pot from World Farm, 15 Bah Soon Pah Road; from $48 a pot at Far East Flora, 555 Thomson Road; and $138 for a 61cm-tall crinum at Ji Mei Flower, 5 Joan Road


What: This hybrid orchid from Japan smells fragrant. It represents humility, modesty, beauty and refinement. Grow it under partial sunlight. Ensure that the roots are dry before watering.

Price: $180 a pot from Candy Floriculture, 567 Thomson Road

Rhipsalis ramulosa or "red coral"

What: Their dark red hue is considered auspicious because it signifies fortune, good luck and happiness. These hanging plants from Mexico and the Caribbean are easy to maintain. Water them once every two to three days.

Price: $45 a pot from World Farm

Sakura bonsai

What: This Japanese beauty has been brought in by Candy Floriculture in limited quantities for the first time. Blooms are shades of creamy white with spots of yellow and pink. Keep it indoors and in cooler areas of your house. Water it every alternate day. Add two to three ice cubes to the soil to keep cool.

Price: From $280 a pot at Candy Floriculture


What: These azaleas, also known as du juan hua, have been shaped to cascade down in what some say is a dragon's tail, a dragon's head or peacock tail. At World Farm in Sembawang, general manager Lee Meng Kwan says customers can buy two together and form the Chinese character for eight, or prosper. Grow the plant under partial sunlight.

Price: $188 a pot from Sing See Soon Floral & Landscape, 32 Punggol East; $159 a pot from World Farm; and $150 a pot from Ji Mei Flower


What: Do not be fooled if you see this plant looking barren at nurseries. The prunus provides a spectacular spring blossom. While currently in the budding phase, it will bloom with pink and red flowers that resemble cherry blossoms just in time for Chinese New Year. It is best grown under partial sunlight.

Price: From $23 for a prunus bonsai from World Farm; from $280 a pot from Sing See Soon; and $88 at Ji Mei Flower

Lingzhi mushroom plant

What: Lingzhi, or ganoderma lucidum, is known for its medicinal properties. But for Chinese New Year, it is frozen, preserved and used as a decorative piece. It makes for a good gift for old folk as it symbolises longevity, youth and good health. Candy Floriculture has a 2m lingzhi dragon ($3,888) and a potted peacock shaped lingzhi (from $180 to $218).

Price: From $49.90 for a pot from Far East Flora; from $28 from Candy Floriculture 

Table gardens

What: Too busy entertaining guests to worry about watering plants? Try this potted beauty. Up to five plants such as pachiras and lucky bamboo are planted in an ingot-like pot to symbolise wealth and fortune. They come with a self-watering system which shows, through a gauge, when the plant needs its water to be topped up.

Price: From $15.90 from Far East Flora

Dragon-shaped bonsai

What: For a smaller animal-themed option, go for this dragon-shaped ficus bonsai from China. It is a good plant to grow indoors as it requires minimal sprays of water daily and regular sunlight.

Price: From $38 for a 30.5cm pot to $68 for a 45cm pot from Ji Mei Flower

Frame gardens

What: These gardens in a frame, which can be hung on walls, are space savers but still add a spot of green. There are different kinds of species such as fittonias and ferns in the frame. It comes with a watering reserve and plant pouch, which takes care of the watering.

Price: From $39.90 for a 17cm by 17cm frame to $88 for a 31cm by 31cm frame from Far East Flora



Auspicious fish that's worth keeping