A flower grower at Datian village in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, waters roses on sale in her shop.
Tradition of buying plants ahead of Spring Festival gets a boost from rising living standards
Xiao Aiting, a doctor in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, buys a potted kumquat tree and flowers such as rhododendrons, chrysanthemums, narcissi and orchids before Spring Festival every year to create a festive floral corner in her home.
The word for kumquat in Cantonese sounds like the word for luck and Xiao sticks a red envelope on the pot of the tree to wish for abundant luck in the coming year.
She spends 400 yuan to 600 yuan (-95) on her floral decorations, depending on the price of flowers each year.
To Lu Shaoqin, 25, who works in an internet company in Guangzhou, shopping for flowers in a nearby flower market has been an important family tradition since her childhood, without which Lunar New Year celebrations would be incomplete.
A kumquat tree and chrysanthemums, which also symbolize luck; Pachira macrocarpa, also known as the money tree; Dracaena sanderiana, or lucky bamboo; and Solanum mammosum, which is called five generations living under the same roof, are the blooms favored by Lu's family.
A mini peach blossom tree, signifying good luck in relations with the opposite sex, is also a must.
Other flowers popular at Lunar New Year in the city are cockscomb, dahlia, gladiolus and lily.
Ruan Lin, dean of the Guangzhou Institute of Forestry and Landscape Architecture, said most families in Guangzhou, buy flowers for Spring Festival.
The love of flowers by the people of Guangzhou, which is known as the "City of Flowers", was recorded in ancient writings as early as in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24).
Su Lisi, chairwoman of the Guangdong Floral Culture Club of the World Flower Council, said there is no official definition of the meanings of festival flowers, but rather customary understanding of local people.
All flowers are beautiful and offer hope for the future. But, positive connotations are sought during Spring Festival and so some flowers have become popular, Su said.
Peach blossom is a favorite of Su's family because it means love and prosperity. This is also why businesspeople prefer the flower, she said.
The tradition of shopping in the city's flower markets is due to its warm weather and great selection of flowers available, Su said.