Gardening is a budding market

By Geng Wenxin Source:Global Times Published: 2011-10-25 22:41:32


As urbanization speeds up in China, people are finding themselves further and further away from nature. But along with growing awareness of low-carbon lifestyles, food safety and environment protection, more people are getting into gardening at home, whether it's tending a few pots or a larger balcony garden.

But although the market is there, the industry has not yet developed to support it.

A growing field

"Gardening needn't be an expensive hobby. And once you start, you will find it so interesting that you can't stop," Qi Jiaming, a 47-year-old gardener in Shanghai, told the Global Times.

Qi has been gardening for more than 10 years. He is well-known online among gardeners, as he often teaches people how to plant and solve plants' problems in growing through a gardening BBS at

"I am so happy to see that so many people like gardening, communicating online and showing off their gardens. In the past, only elderly people saw it as a hobby. Now it is a lifestyle among all age groups, to beautify your life with flowers and eat the products from your work," said Qi.

"I see a lot of people spending more than 1,000 yuan ($156.88) per month, on seeds, soils, pots and fertilizers. When people with a large patio or a private garden spend tens of thousands of yuan on their garden and ask me questions on how to design, decorate and choose proper plants, I envy them so much, because I only have a less than ten-square-meter balcony," he said.

"Urban life puts huge pressure on Chinese people – the pollution, food safety issues, chemicals. That's why private planting is so attractive. It is not only beautiful, but also useful. Growing flowers and vegetables, people can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, relax and give kids a better environment," Zhang Huaili, a horticulture professor at China Agricultural University, told the Global Times.

"Real estate developers are also aware of people's interest in gardening. They are putting more energy into developing houses with private gardens, patios or more balconies to attract buyers. Gardening products will soon be a common part of people's daily goods. There is a huge market ready to burst," Zhang noted.
Statistics from the Shanghai Tools Industry Association show the great potential of the gardening industry. The association estimated that by the end of 2015, China's gardening product market volume will be over 8.74 billion yuan, more than triple the figure of 2.76 billion yuan in 2010.

Not ready

"Buying gardening products is a headache for many gardeners. There are two main sources: online shops and local plant markets. Each has its own problems," Liu Jiajia, a gardener in Beijing, told the Global Times.

Local markets offer a limited choice of plants and are expensive, according to Liu. Many tools, breeds and plants are just not available. But even though online shops are cheaper and offer more variety, there are many swindlers, she added.

"It is common to see people complaining that they bought seeds for some rare plant online and they turned out to be a cheap and normal kind after years of growing. Many gardeners in China are new to the hobby and inexperienced. They have little knowledge of plants and planting. I saw some cases of people selling seeds for blue rose and blue lotus plants, which do not even exist, or offering purple onions as pretend hyacinths," said Qi.

"China has a lot of professional breeders, exporters and tool manufacturers. But they mainly deal with certain customers, such as local governments, parks and large agricultural manufacturers, not ordinary gardeners. They don't see the potential of the home gardening market," said Zhang.

"Compared with big customers, gardeners' needs are personalized and more complicated. They always want different designs and plants suitable to their yards, patios and balconies," said Bao Zhiyi, president of the Gardening College of Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University.

"I can't find trustworthy seed suppliers and breeders in China. So every season I order seeds from foreign companies, such as Thompson & Morgan and Floranova in Britain, Parkseed in the US, and Sakata Seed in Japan. I spend at least 500,000 yuan each season for my online shop," said Wang Shunxue, who runs a gardening shop on

"Now I am buying bulbs from Holland – tulips, hyacinths and anemone. It's the cool season to plant bulbs and I've received a huge amount of orders from my customers."

"There are no competent gardening service providers in China. Gardening involves design, construction and decoration, planting and maintenance. Gardeners can't find proper service providers to solve their problems or instruct them," said Zhang.

Future industry

"Compared with countries like Holland, where the gardening industry is highly developed, China is far behind. But we can learn a lot from them," Zhang noted.

According to him, gardening products have high requirements in logistics. A big collecting and distributing system is essential. Fast and accurate analysis and forecast of market needs will be the key to success. There are many manufacturers, but no competent logistics service providers.

"Another point is that we shouldn't ignore our own characteristics, as gardening is also a culture. Chinese people have their own views on gardens, such as our passion for waterscapes," Zhang added.

One of China's few pioneers in the industry at the moment is Zhejiang Hongyue Seed Co, which supplies potted flowers and cut flowers, and is trying to become an integrated gardening services provider.

"Our gardening chain shops started in January 2010, and were the first of their kind in China," Guo Lan, deputy director of the research and development department of Hongyue, told the Global Times.

"Currently the majority of our customers are middle- and high-end customers. As the number of gardeners grows bigger and bigger, there will be more market needs. We believe this kind of gardening service will definitely be a future trend," Deng Jianfeng, a Hongyue chain store manager in Hangzhou city, Zhejiang Province, told the Global Times.

blog comments powered by Disqus