Imported flowers have become a favourite of a large number of consumers for the Lunar New Year (Tet) Festival, despite their higher prices compared with that of locally produced flowers.

A wide variety of imported flowers from flower-growing countries such as the Republic of Korea (RoK), Thailand, the Netherlands and the United States can be easily found in many corners of large cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Residents are particularly fond of imported flowers such as orchids from Thailand and the RoK, lilies and tulips from the Netherlands, apricot blossoms from the United States and roses from Ecuador.

In HCM City, the number of imported flowers is estimated to have increased by 30 to 50 percent in comparison with last year.

Nguyen Van Phuoc, the owner of a flower shop in HCM City, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that he has imported nearly 250 orchids from the RoK, and has sold one-third of them over the past few days.

He said that the demand for imported orchids during Tet increases by four times in comparison with normal days, and this year, the demand has increased by 50 percent against last year.

"We plan to import an additional 200 orchids to meet the local customers' demand," he said.

Nguyen Thu Phuong, the owner of a flower shop in Hanoi's Hai Ba Trung district, said that this year, the flowers imported from the United States, Taiwan (China) and the RoK have drawn the maximum attention of the customers, although their prices are often 20 to 50 percent higher than of local flowers.

"Customers are particularly interested in apricot blossoms imported from the United States and orchids from the RoK," she said.

Each vase containing six sprigs of American apricot blossoms cost about 1.2 million VND (57 USD).

More than 1,000 sprigs of American apricot blossoms have been ordered, triple the figure last year, she said.

Despite the high prices, local people still want to buy imported flowers, which they consider to be unusual and more beautiful.

Hoang Thu Hanh, a resident of Cau Giay district, said that she fell in love with imported flowers a few years ago, and that it has become a habit for her to decorate the house with different kinds of foreign flowers during Tet.

"I will buy orchids imported from the RoK for this year's Tet. Each sprig of the orchid often has 16 to 18 flowers. It is hard to find locally grown orchids having such a large number of flowers," she said.

"Also, though their prices are higher than of local flowers, they can be kept longer for nearly two months in proper condition. The domestic flowers last only between one month and 1.5 months," she added.

Vu Quang Minh, a resident of Hai Ba Trung district, said that he wanted unique flowers for Tet and so chose imported flowers.

"Domestic or traditional flowers are very popular in every family of Vietnam. They are also beautiful, but I prefer flowers that cannot be grown in Vietnam," he added.

The owner of a flower shop in the northern port city of Hai Phong said that he has sold hundreds of pots of imported orchids, with each vase costing about 1 million VND to 1.5 million VND (47-71 USD).

"The number of orders has increased unexpectedly. Our shop is going to run out of imported orchids, although there is nearly a week to go for Tet to start," he said.

Dalat Hasfarm, a major florist based in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong's Da Lat city, told Tuoi Tre newspaper that it has imported more foreign flowers to serve the Tet market, besides domestic products.

"The imports of cursed buttercup, Ecuadorian and Kenyan roses, allium and hydrangea are 40 percent higher than in 2014," said Nguyen Minh Hanh, the company's Marketing Director.-VNA