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With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

Count Your Blessings!
Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
Count Your Life With Smiles And Not The Tears That Roll.
..... Author unknown.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Buying Auspicious Indoor Plants for Chinese New Year 2011

Chinese New Year Bonsai

This post  is about the various types of auspicious indoor plants we can decorate our homes with. Those of you who live in high rise apartments and rented homes with little gardening space will find it useful. Anyway, for those of us who have outdoor gardens, many of us like to decorate our living rooms with live plants to transform our interiors into instant 'blooming' gardens. With a little imagination, tiny office spaces turn into pretty table-top/miniature gardens.

This is the 3rd and final post about the plants at Ah Chui Nursery.

Chinese New Year Bonsai

A bonsai decorated with ribbons, mini lanterns and ornaments with auspicious words, all in colours of red and gold. Potted bonsais like these resemble the pine trees you see in Chinese art and calligraphy and pine trees symbolise longevity.

Besides being a spring festival, the Chinese New Year Day which falls on the first day of the first lunar month of the Chinese Calendar also marks the changeover of luck for the better. We have an ancient legend where a monster 'Nien' used to terrorised the people on New Year Eve. The nien was successfully overcomed and chased away with very loud noise and the colour red which it hated. So, that is why Chinese New Year is often celebrated with loud noise created by the sound of firecrackers and beating of drums and cymbals.  During this season, we also go 'over-the-top' with the colour red.

Just like you make new year resolutions, we'd like to look at our new year with renewed hopes and aspirations.

“Buying Auspicious Indoor Plants for Chinese New Year 2011”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on January 26th, 2011.

Lucky Bamboo
Bamboo is a symbol of longevity, endurance and protection. Bamboo plants stay evergreen throughout the coldest winter to the hottest summer and they live through all the 4 seasons. They can weather the storm and return to life. Under strong winds, they do not break easily but could bend with the flow. They spring back up when calm returns.

The lucky bamboos I bought from this nursery last year is still thriving in a jar of water until today. Usually they only last a few months when grown indoors in small vases.

Lucky Bamboo
A lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) twisted into spiral shapes with a bird on top. The leaves grow upwards and the bamboo are arranged in a rising hierarchy symbolising personal advancement. We believe that birds bring good news and wonderful opportunities for success and advancement. Some people are very particular on their placements in the home, i.e. whether they want the birds to fly in or fly out.

Lucky Bamboo
Lucky bamboo in mini ports with hanging red packets and gold ingots resting on gravel. Can you see the rows of dangling miniature gold ingots hanging from the red ribbons? The pot is shaped like a peach, the fruit of longevity and immortality.

You can also find lucky bamboos at the hypermarkets like Jaya Jusco, Ikea, Carrefour, Giant and Tesco.

Lucky Bamboo
Lucky bamboos are also called ribbon plants or Belgian evergreens. The spiral ones are called 'dragon bamboo' while the one in the centre is 'lotus bamboo'. The spirals represents a change of luck for the better.

These are flower pots with auspicious drawings. The leaves are allowed to grow upwards to symbolise a successful climb to the top.

We have bamboos in our homes, potted or grown on the ground and even in paintings to bring good health and longevity for our aged parents and also the patriach (breadwinner) of the family. A potted bamboo plant in the office attracts good luck and 'staying power' in our work and career.

These look like Pachira aquatica plants. Pachira aquatica are also known as Malabar chestnut, money tree, Guiana chestnut, provision tree or saba nut. In Chinese it is 馬拉巴栗 (malabali). It's auspicious CNY name is "money tree" (發財樹 fācái shù) or "US Dollar Tree".

This plant thrives well indoors, even under artificial lighting and when looked after well, they bear showy yellow flowers that open at night and produces nuts that are edible. Their palmate leaves which are 5-7 lobed are considered auspicious.

I have a similar one in my garden. It was given to my by my late father who told me that mine was 2-3 trees knotted together to signify a closely knitted family. He also told me that 2 trees can be joined together to symbolise very loving/close partnership as in husband-wife relationships. It is only recently that I found out that this tree is also used as a money tree.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia, the ZZ plant
A ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) with hanging God of Prosperity and 'fu' ornaments. 'Fu' signifies the blessings from heaven. The ZZ plant is also known as the Zanzibar gem, Jian Qian Shu (“金钱树”) or gold coin plant) or fortune plant. It is used as a money plant because its leaves resemble a string of ancient Chinese coins which is very auspicious. I have been growing mine in the porch for years and each stalk of leaves last for months, some even as long as a year!

 This planter box is loaded with gold ingots, strings of gold coins and even a golden pineapple. The name of this plant is Euodia ridleyi, common name Evodia. The green leaves turn a golden yellow when exposed to the sun. Its auspicious name is "A bucket of gold" (一桶黄金 or yi tong huang jin).

As you can observe by now, flowers and plants play an important role in our new year celebrations:
  1. We buy live plants and flowers to grow in our outdoor garden
  2. We buy live plants and flowers to decorate our home interiors
  3. We buy artificial plants and flowers for interior decor, and each type of plant/flowers has a special meaning
  4. We use flowers for prayers and cleansing rituals
  5. We visit flower markets on New Year eve

Finally, a million apologies to my friends and commenters if I have not visited you yet as I am currently very busy with my festive preparations, e.g. cleaning, decorating, prayers...

I wonder what are the popular Chinese New Year plants in your respective countries?

Thank you very much for visiting My Nice Garden.

This is my entry for Fertilizer Friday, thanks to Tootsie of Tootsie Time, the link is here.


  1. Thank you for the pictures! They are all lovely. Although i find bonsai and twisted lucky bamboo are unique and beautiful but i've never had them before. My fengshui sifu never encourage me to have any of them in or outside the house.

  2. Hi Auspicious Lady, May you have an Auspicious Rabbit Year!

  3. The bamboo's twists and turns are quite amazing... you might want to take a peep at my post on Japanese plum flowers... Happy CNY to you...

  4. Ditto, I too have not been ard here much but will asap, start stopping by blogs. Thx for sharing this list of auspicious plants here, starting with the ornamented bedazzling Chinese bonsai. Lovely pix Belle. Happy CNY to you n your family. Blessings n Prayers.

  5. It will be hard to decide which one to buy with so many interesting plant and decoration to choose from. Rambang Mata!

  6. Milka, I have also heard that some FS masters consider the bonsai as representing 'stunted growth', so they do not have it in the house. But I still see many rich people buying it and displaying it in their homes as evidenced by real life and also from watching movies.

    One, thank you very much for your early New Year wishes!

    Prof, thank you so much for this message. I am really overjoyed to see your blooming 'mei hua' and white is really lovely and pure. Oh, how I wish I can touch its real petals and smell the fragrance.

    Radhika, thank you very much for your new year wishes. I was thinking about you when I photographed the bonsai plants, as that was how I came across you beautiful blog. There are bonsais of many sizes at Ah Chui nursery, from mini little ones to as tall as 6 ft or more.

    Diana, yes, there are indeed many choices to suit our budget.

  7. This is another informative post! Now i know why my neighbour blast the firecrackers on the eve of CNY!
    The twisted bamboo looks so unique!

  8. You *slow slow come* take your time preparation of CNY could be tons of *hard* work. As usual dragon and lotus etc would be the most popular. Wishing you all the LUCK for the coming Rabbit Year.

  9. Gong Xi Fa Cai! Wish you much prosperity and health.

  10. Malar, nowadays, our neighbours light up the fireworks at midnight during Deepavali, Hari Raya, Christmas and Thaipusam as well, therefore one ethnic group celebrating, all of us also 'celebrating' because no sleep possible due to noise ;>)

    Bananaz, there are only a few days left and I'm already experiencing muscle-ache and guess what? My gas cooker choose to conk-off yesterday night after my DIY cleaning, so no home cooking :(

    Keats, the heavy wind and rain today was too much for my hydrangea flower head and now they are collapsing. I need your sunshine!

  11. Those arrangements are so nice! wish I could see them in person. Also, I think that first bonsai looks a bit like a tiger dunno why

  12. Fer, I can see what you mean. A crouching tiger and hiden dragon?

    This year tiger is saying bye-bye and being replaced by the rabbit :)

  13. I love the decorated bonsai and bamboo - they are so very colorful!
    Blessings, Beth

  14. Hello Autumn Belle,

    We have a favorite market that we shop at here. It is a long drive to get to it but it is worth it. They sell those cute little red "lanterns" and bamboo just like that. I have never decorated for C.N.Y but it sounds fun! Maybe I will this year since I now know a place to buy the
    My husband gave me a bamboo plant and it literally thrives on my neglect. He had a bamboo plant at work on his desk and he watered it WAY too much and killed it. It stunk so bad I almost lost my lunch. He is not a plant guy but more into machines.

    Thanks for the information on the plants and also for commenting on my blog.


  15. Also you were the one who helped me figure out that I had a ZZ plant, which I had no idea that it is auspicious! ( My husband gave me that one too. Maybe he knows plants better than I thought!) Thanks again for your help in ID'ing it.

  16. The lushness of the plants is set beautifully in those gorgeous pots!!!!

  17. I have noticed that people have become more wiser now compared to before in selecting plants.
    Noticed that now there are not many floral plants sold compared to before.
    Those dwarfed hydrangeas, dwarfed chrysanthemums are missing in the market.

  18. Hello Autumn Belle, i'm back from my weekday escapades to Central Java, Indonesia. We've finished the series of Nasi Goreng+ escapades. Terimah Kasih, etc. hehe. These pictures hold true here too, but i prefer the golden fruits of the citrus for the Chinese New Year, unfortunately, i dont see those here. Your site is the first one i visited today.

  19. These are beautiful shares for Tootsie Time Fertilize Friday.

  20. They are all so beautufil!

  21. Thank you for sharing your customs and colourful plants. All the red for celebration looks so pretty against the green of the plants.

  22. Hi

    Happy New Year. Thank you for posting lovely Auspicious indoor plants.


  23. I loved seeing the plants and learning about the culture that goes with them. I am trying a few dwarf bamboo in my garden as well!!
    Happy Chinese New Year

  24. Beautiful photos...thank you teaching me of plants that are important to you and your culture...and why they are important!

  25. Your New Year sounds wonderful. I like that you celebrate with a celebration of living things

  26. Happy New Year to you Autumn Belle and your family! I haven't been much on the computer lately since I pulled a back muscle in the garden last week. It is healing so by next week I will be able to spend more time at the computer. Take care.

  27. Beth, Alberta, Bren, Dragonfly Treasure, Lavender Cottage, Rani, Donna, Theanne, Beyond My Garden,

    Thank you very much for your visits, warm wishes and nice comments. I appreciate it very much.

  28. Rosey, yay, it'll be so much more fun with you joining in the CNY mood. So sorry to hear about your darling's bamboo plant. These things do happen and I bet the smell must be terrible judging from your description.

    Somebody told me that ZZ plant helps to clean the air inside the home, so since they help absorb the toxins from the air, their plant parts are toxic when consumed!

  29. James, maybe it was still early when I visited the nursery. There were no signs of orchids, chrysanthemums, hyacinths, narcissus and hydrangeas yet. The nursery owner had told me that the chrysanthemums from Cameron Highlands are blooming late due to the long rainy season.

  30. Andrea, so glad to know that you are back from your Indonesia adventures and very honoured to be the first blog visited by you. Can't wait to view your travel photos.

  31. Always a pleasure to visit your colorful blog! The more I learn about Bamboo, the more I appreciate it. Thanks for the information about the significance of plants and flowers to the Chinese New Year! Best wishes! Beth

  32. fantastic post..I have a ZZ plant...I love it. easy to grow...with a beautiful form! thanks for linking in this week!!! I love visiting you...I always learn something!


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