New Straits Times
With Chinese New Year around the corner, Elaine Yim offers some suggestions for plants and blooms that attract good fortune
THIS is a good time to shop for lucky plants and flowers to decorate the home. Every year, I’m intrigued by the vast array of plants on sale during this season. It’ll be good to try growing some seasonal plants which are only available during this time of the year. May this be a joyful learning experience too.
Nowadays, nursery owners are well versed in the scientific names, common names as well as auspicious names of the plants.
We can seek their advice on how to care for the plants. We can request them to repot and decorate our selected plants with festive ornaments and red ribbons. There are many choices to suit any budget.
Recently, I visited two nurseries in Ipoh to check on the festive plants on offer. The list of lucky plants seems endless but here are some of my favourites. Spring flowering bulbs such as hyacinth and narcissus are commonly known as shui xian, meaning water fairy.
They exude a festive fragrance and symbolise wealth and prosperity. It’s not easy to get them to flower at the right time. The best time to buy these are less than a week before the Chinese New Year.
According to Low Ai Yee from Hock Loke Siew Nursery, you can grow them in water or sand in shallow containers. Keep in a cool place away from direct sunlight. Where necessary, flowering can be delayed by controlling the watering to alternate days only. There’s no need to add fertiliser. Frequent watering and sun exposure will hasten the blooming process. They will not re-bloom again.
The chrysanthemum is a symbol of longevity and spirituality. The Chinese decorate their homes with potted chrysanthemums while cut flowers are mainly used in prayers. The most popular colour is yellow because the Chinese word for yellow is wong, which has a similar-sounding word meaning prosperity. Traditionally, yellow was also the colour of the emperor and the imperial palace.
According to Cheong GW from Tong Sun Nursery, we can buy those with many unopened buds. Keep the pots in an airy and cool location away from rain but with bright indirect sun such as the porch. This will extend the blooming period as the flowers will open and fade away quickly when exposed to full sun.
The plants should not be kept indoors for more than a week. Bring them outdoors regularly for a day or two to enjoy some sun and air. After flowering, you can continue growing them for as long as two years but the flowers are fewer in quantity. Select hyacinths with many visible flowers buds.