Vietnam: interest in mutant orchids withers away

Nguyen Van Hoa, 45, has several mutant orchids that were worth a few billion dong just two years ago but are unsellable now. Once "equivalent to a family's entire savings," they are still kept in a secure iron cage equipped with a camera at Hoa's home in Hanoi.

"Two years ago, a Phan Tri mutant orchid fetched VND700–800 million ($28,700-32,850) while a pot with a few bulbs could reach billions. Now no one buys them for even a few million." He owns a 1,000-square-meter flower garden in Dong La Commune in Hoai Duc District, dubbed the "orchid paradise of the north."

He says the same thing has happened to five white petals Phu Tho, five white petals, Di Linh, Mat Nai, and many other mutant orchids, which were once "more expensive than gold." Hoang Lien, 40, another orchid farm owner in Dong La, says a keiki, a product of asexual propagation by a mature orchid, used to fetch up to several hundred million dong, but has since fallen to a fraction of that.

"My phone used to ring nonstop from morning to night with people inquiring about acquiring a rare keiki in my garden. My orchid garden was once worth billions of dong, but nowadays, no one is interested in mutant orchids, and so I just keep them alive and treat them like houseplants."

Lien said the Covid-19 pandemic in the last two years had made it impossible for plant enthusiasts who wanted to trade mutant orchids to get together and talk about them. Everyone tightened their spending after the outbreak, and the sudden trend faded, leaving traders shocked to see the value of their flowers drop every day.

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