Do you love flowers, but hate the hassle of having to change the water in the vase every few days?
If you like to decorate your home or office with colourful blooms, but have neither the time nor patience to care for them, frozen flowers may be your solution. They can stay fresh for years even if you do not water them, thanks to a quick freezing technique that removes the moisture in the blooms. They are then preserved for up to 10 years.
There are at least two companies here selling these micro-flowers, each of which measures 1cm wide and comes in various colours such as red, green, blue and yellow.
They are papery to the touch and look like artificial flowers. But sprinkle some water onto the petals and they will close, only to open again when they dry up.
Mr Ron Lee, 31, founder of giveaplant, a plant-based retail business, started bringing in his versions six years ago. He imports them from a business partner in Taiwan and sells them online via Facebook as well as at bazaars and pushcarts at malls.
He says sales of frozen flowers have doubled over the years and they now make up half his business. His company also sells terrariums, water plants and succulents.
He now sells 20 to 30 pots of frozen flowers over the weekend, mostly to office workers who want to decorate their workspaces. During special occasions such as Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, he can sell 40 to 50 pots each weekend.
Where to buy frozen flowers
Where: Go to facebook.com/giveaplant. The flowers are also on sale at a pushcart at level 2 of VivoCity (in front of Premier Football, 02-110 Lobby E) till March 31.
Where: Go to www.facebook.com/Freezyflowersg/
He says: "These flowers make good gifts because they symbolise everlasting love."
A pot of seven to eight flowers costs $6.90, while a glass container with about 50 to 60 flowers is $59.90. The flowers do not need soil and have stalks which are stuck into sponges for stability. Some are decorated with animal figurines.
A newer player in the market is Freezy Flower, a subsidiary of TrendinSG which sells products such as mobile gadgets and women's apparel and accessories.
Its founder, Mr Justin Tan, 33, started importing the flowers from Japan three years ago after a Japanese friend told him it was a trend there.
He sells them mostly at stalls in bazaars and events at shopping centres, and has seen weekend sales blossom from three to 10 pots to about 150 pots.
Each pot contains 15 to 30 stalks of flowers and costs $15 to $48. Most are decorated with figurines of cartoon characters such as Hello Kitty and Doraemon.
Mr Lee says the frozen flowers are not alive and are dried using the quick freezing technique, which allows them to retain the properties of opening and closing according to temperature and humidity.
The flowers are originally white, but have been dyed in myriad colours for sale. Mr Lee does not know the type of flower used, but that the Taiwanese call them starflowers.
Mr Tan says his flowers are micro-chrysanthemums.
The colours and the property of opening and closing can be preserved for about 10 years, Mr Lee notes. But he adds: "The flower petals are fragile and should not be subjected to pressure. If you press them, the petals may fall."
The flowers require "zero care", but should be kept away from sunlight and a moist environment such as the toilet as they might turn mouldy in these conditions.
Mr Lee says: "A good place to put them would be in an air-conditioned or cool and dry space. They can be placed beside the computer, television and on the coffee table."
While it is not necessary, you can spray the flowers with water once or twice a month. Mr Lee says: "You can see the petals close in five to 10 seconds."
But spray only once, he advises. "If you want to spray more than once, make sure the petals have dried up before you do so. Otherwise, the moisture may cause the flower to turn mouldy."
Bank manager Tracy Liu, 28, bought about 30 to 40 flower stalks with a Hello Kitty figurine from Freezy Flower when it had a pop-up stall in Chinatown last year.
She says: "My colleague had one beside her computer and I felt they really brightened up her desk, and I wanted one too.
"Even after a year and watering them only two to three times, my flowers still look as good as new."