The Tet holidays, which start in mid-February this year, represent a traditional Vietnamese event where families with far-flung members are reunited, and smart clothes are worn as a sign of good fortune for the New Year.
To mark the occasion, plants and flowers are displayed in Vietnamese homes, explaining the emergence of flower markets across the country before Tet.
As 2018 is the Year of the Dog in the Vietnamese lunar calendar, a number of growers have been shaping their ornamental plants into various canine looks.
One of those has been the kumquat, a citrus plant with edible fruit that resembles an orange, but only smaller and golden yellow when ripe.
The kumquat dog can exhibit different postures: sitting or standing, and has become a valuable item.
“Kumquat puppies sell like hot cakes,” said Le Van Tri, a flower grower in Ben Tre Province, located in southwestern Vietnam.
She creates them, and each pair costs VND2-10 million (US$80-400).
He said the cultivation of kumquats is a long business, typically starting in the third month of the lunar year and involves the careful selection of the most robust plants and skillful pruning of branches.
When the trees bear fruit, Tri begins shaping them, a process which takes between five and seven days.
“Giving the plants a canine shape is the most difficult of all the stages,” he said.
Besides the decorative dogs, a common plant creating a bright yellow patch in most Tet markets is the chrysanthemum, which is put in pots and given a conical shape.
Taking care of a chrysanthemum is demanding, as growers have to remove worms in the flower at night, and do a lot of trimming, according to Tran Thi Tuyet Van, a flower villager in Ben Tre.
|Le Van Tri, in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam, waters his kumquat dogs. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|A garden for completed kumquat puppies, near a plant dragon. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|Plant puppies poised for sale. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|A woman in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam, takes care of chrysanthemum plants at night. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|People carry chrysanthemum pots to a shelter in case of rain. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|Women take photos amid rows of chrysanthemums. Photo: Tuoi Tre|