Pussy willows in shorter supply, with smaller blooms this Chinese New Year, florists say

Demand for pussy willows has also dropped due to worries about breeding mosquitos and the Zika virus.
Demand for pussy willows has also dropped due to worries about breeding mosquitos and the Zika virus.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

SINGAPORE - The supply of pussy willows has dropped by 30 to 40 per cent due to bad weather in Taiwan and southern China, florists here say.

Stalks of pussy willows, which have white fluffy buds, are a favourite during Chinese New Year, but this year, those celebrating the festival are opting for other plants to bring festive cheer to their homes.

"There is a supply shortfall of at least 30 to 40 per cent due to bad weather in China," said Mr Bernard Chiang, 64, of Golden Roc Florist.

But he observed that the demand for the plant at his shop has fallen this year.

"People are worried about dengue and the Zika virus, and about mosquitoes breeding, so the number of people buying (pussy willows) has also reduced," he told The Straits Times.

World Farm nursery in Sembawang told Shin Min Daily News that less than half of the pussy willows it ordered was delivered by suppliers.

Mr Royston Low, 56, managing director of Katong Flower Shop also observed that there was a 30 to 40 per cent drop in the supply of pussy willows. The size of the blooms are also smaller, he said.

The bad weather has affected supplies from Taiwan and southern provinces such as Fujian, but the plants are available from other Chinese provinces like Sichuan, Mr Low added.

Other plants popular during Chinese New Year such as mandarin orange and kumquat plants are not affected, he said.

In addition, the supply of flowering plants from Malaysia such as chrysanthemums, hydrangeas and sunflowers remain the same. Prices have not changed much from last year, he said.

Mr Low and Mr Chiang also shared that in recent years, there are many shoppers who wait till the last minute to do their Chinese New Year shopping.

Mr Low said: "Perhaps the way of living has changed, a lot of people do last minute shopping. People are busy with work and they have no time to take care of plants."

chuimin@sph.com.sg