Gardens by the Bay holds showcase of new plant cultivars in South-east Asia's first flower trial

SINGAPORE – Gardens by the Bay held a showcase of 150 new plant cultivars on Thursday (June 30) in South-east Asia’s first flower trial aimed at diversifying plant sources.

The Gardens as well as local nurseries were hit by disruptions to the supply chains of potted plants from overseas caused by Covid-19. The experience highlighted the importance of diversifying plant sources, said deputy chief executive of the Gardens, Mr Lee Kok Fatt, at the event.

Flower trials let breeders showcase their new products for industry players to view and procure and such events are highly-anticipated within the horticulture industries in the United States and Europe.

Holding such a trial in Singapore expands the supply options available to the horticulture industry in Singapore and the region, Mr Lee, 48, added.

Thursday’s flower trial was attended by more than 120 growers, landscapers and distributors from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.

It was organised by the Gardens and held in its nursery in a closed-door event.

Five breeder companies showcased their products: Syngenta from Switzerland, Pan-American Seed from the US, Dummen Orange from the Netherlands, and Sakata and Takii from Japan. They funded the trial and provided the flower seeds, which were grown in the nursery.

Port closures during the pandemic disrupted the supply of potted plants from abroad for Gardens by the Bay. In a bid to overcome this problem, Mr Lee said that the Gardens started to look into growing flower seeds bought from overseas seed or breeder companies.

He noted that through the trial, growers in Singapore and the region can develop business opportunities with seed companies and increase their range and variety of plants sold.

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Due to the pandemic, Madam Christine Neo, 58, a local grower from Tai Kwang Garden, faced delays in imports of potted plants. For example, plants like hydrangeas from Europe, a popular flower during Chinese New Year, arrived a month later in March, after the festive season.

She said: “Ports were jammed and people were falling sick. As a result, the plants were left inside containers for about 18 days, causing them to wilt or die.”

Her nursery incurred a loss of about $10,000 this year due to such damage to the plants she ordered.

“That’s why I think the event is a really good way to network with breeder companies and buy seeds that we don’t usually see in Singapore. I have more options of seeds and places to get my seeds in future,” said Madam Neo, who intends to grow more potted plants from seeds to sell at her nursery and rely less on imported plants.

Assistant sales manager at World Farm & Hua Hng Jurong nursery, Mr Ng Keng Guan, 36, decided to buy the sunflower and petunia seeds at the flower trial.

The nursery sells more than 800 species of plants and gets its supply of potted plants from Thailand, China and the Netherlands.