Many people are buying mai (ochna) plants and different species of evergreen house plants for temporary use for the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays.

The best time to rent an ochna plant is two or three days before Tet so they will bloom on the first day of the New Year.

The plant that bears yellow flowers, an essential item for the New Year in the south, is believed to bring good luck and well-being.

"The best way for those who don't have time to care for the plants is to rent them," said Minh Hoa, 38, an accountant in District 5.

For many city residents, renting the plant is one-third cheaper than buying.

"This year, the rentals are about 15-20 percent higher than last year," said Nguyen Toai Nguyen, the owner of Dong Nhat Ochna Garden in Hoc Mon District.

Nguyen's garden has 3,000 mai plants, both for sale and for rent. Prices to rent a pot range from 4 million to 15 million VND (200-750 USD), depending on the size of the plant.

Gardener Tu Hoa in Binh Thanh District has 150 ochna plants that are many decades old.

The rentals of his plants, about 2m high, range from VND20 million to 35 million. He offers free transportation service.

Huynh Thi Kim Vy, director of Saigon Flowers Company in Thu Duc District, said that higher prices this year have not deterred buyers.

She has signed contracts to rent 400 large plants at a cost of between 8 million VND and 30 million VND each.

The Sai Gon Flower Company is one of many companies in HCM City that rent different kinds of eternity house plants, including phat tai (aroid palm) and kim ngan (money tree). The rental price is between 500,000 VND and 1 million VND a pot.

Usually an owner of a house with a big living room prefers to rent a decade-old ochna plant about two metres high and several money trees to decorate their house for Tet, according to Vy./.