Uprooted peach trees look dead and the blossoms faded after being uprooted and display in households over Tet. So few people think of replanting and tending them for the next lunar new year.

But collecting the trees for replanting and recycling has become quite a business in Hanoi .

It is common to see people scavenging for used peach or kumquat trees in streets and lanes around the towns and cities. And each year the collection process gets more competitive because of the higher population and greater demand for trees.

Normally, disposal of the trees lasts for a couple of weeks from the 10th day of Tet. But to find the best quality shrubs, the recyclers often get cracking from the sixth or seventh day of Tet.

Most of them are gardeners from peach tree growing villages, such as Nhat Tan, Tu Lien, Xuan La, Thuong Tin, La Phu and La Ca. People from neighbouring provinces also buy trees.

"It takes up to seven years to grow a tree, said Tran Van Chi, of Tay Ho district's Phu Thuong Ward.

"Recycling helps to save money and protect cultivated areas. From those stumps, we can have beautiful peach trees for sale by next Tet," he said.

The average price for each stump is 50,000 VND (2.30 USD) and 100.000 VND (4.5 USD).

Every year, people who collect peach tree stumps can earn several hundreds of million dong if the trees have been well-cultivated and are in blossom by next year, Chi said.

This year, the number of tree collectors is estimated to be in the hundreds, leading to strong rivalry from people in urban areas wanting to boost their incomes.

To get the jump on their opposition, recyclers sometimes tip domestic staff to phone them when the stumps are to be thrown out.

Le Duy Thanh, owner of a garden in Thuong Tin district's Van Tao Commune said, "Competition is greater than in the retail market before Tet."

The increased demand for stumps also pushes the price higher.

To make matters worse, many families have chosen to replant their trees instead of selling them.

Seeking out peach trees takes a lot of effort. Collectors travel tens of kilometres each day to find them.

And then there is the cultivation process, which is long and painstaking.

"Peach trees are often torn out without care, leaving damaged and missing roots which make survival problematic," Chi said "It can take more than a year to bring them back to full bloom."

Mai Thi Tham, owner of a peach tree garden in Tay Ho district's Phu Thuong Ward, said, "Tending them is as time-consuming as taking care of a baby.

"It depends a lot on the weather. Last year, the cold affected blossoms. Many recycling gardeners suffered losses.

"Also, collecting trees for sale to gardeners is a hard way to earn extra money," Tham said.

To families who have no more use for their peach trees, however, recyclers can be handy.

Nguyen Van Toan, of Cau Giay district's Mai dich Ward, said, "We could get extra cash but, for me, I just give the tree away as a lucky gift. It gets rid of the rubbish around the house." /.