Spring is here and it's brought an array of multi-coloured plants and flowers on offer around town to help brighten up your dwelling. Time Out explore the best and brightest flower markets to see what's on offer
One of Shanghai’s biggest downtown flower markets (if you’re after a seriously enormous selection, head to the Sunqiao Modern Agricultural Development Zone in Pudong, see our website for details), this space in Minhang is mainly indoors and from the outside looks just like any regular old building. However, when you walk in, there is an overwhelming fragrance of flowers and greenery. Unlike many flower and bird markets throughout the city which mix their flora and fauna sections, this market keeps the birds and the plants separate, allowing you to avoid some of the more distressing scenes of caged creatures while you’re shopping.
Store G-12 (139 1848 6888) This shop has a very good selection of flowers and plants, including potted herbs such as mint (8RMB), rosemary (10RMB) and thyme (15RMB). The shop also sells all kinds of seeds and fertilisers and even cacti. They have their own out of town garden, meaning that the prices are reasonable. Perhaps our favourite purchase here however is the carniverous Raffles’ Pitcher- Plant – if you want to keep mosquitoes or flies away, you can get one of these for your home for just 20RMB.
Store G-83 (5181 5288) One of the best spots if you’re after large, outdoor shrubs, this unit also offers smaller vegetable and fruit plants such as pumpkin, corn and strawberries with prices starting from 10RMB for pots that could easily fit onto the average kitchen windowsill. They also have a good Taobao shop for their flowers and cacti (www.taoflower.cn), with fancy customised cactus pots starting at around 280RMB, plus 50RMB for delivery within the city.
Store G-68 (no tel) A mother-daughter shop, this unit offers reasonable prices for cut flowers and potted plants as well as very friendly service, and although it’s located in a slightly dingey part of the market, it has some of the most beautiful flowers. The best thing at this shop however, is that they allow you to bring your own glass container, ceramic pot or window box and help you with plant and flower suggestions as well as arranging. Prices vary depending upon the size of planter and type of flower or plant selected (ask in-store for a quote).
Caojiadu Flower and Bird Market is at 33 Wanhangdu Hou Lu, near Wanhangdu Lu, Putuo district. See full address details.
Hongqiao Flower Market
The cleanest and most pleasantly laid out of the three markets featured here, Hongqiao Flower Market has a decent outdoor area where five lucky shops display their flowers and plants in glorious sunshine. Naturally, you’ll find the best shrubs and larger plants outside, but the indoor section has widely spaced walkways and smells wonderful from the different scents of the flowers. Inside there’s a wide array of varieties, ranging from cut flowers to cacti and bonsai.
Recommended shopsUnit 3, District B (138 1626 8078)
This outdoor unit sells flowers from all over Shanghai, delivered to their shop front everyday There’s a fast turn over of stock, making it hard to predict exactly what they’ll have on offer, but the quality of the range remains high throughout the year.
Unit 17, District B (189 6439 7809)
This is the biggest cacti and succulent shop in the market. Their hardy plants range from 10-20RMB for small individual cacti or succulent pots to several hundred RMB for the highest end, fullycustomised offerings. You can even add little plastic cartoon characters or create a garden inside a glass bottle if you so desire. Hongqiao Flower Market is at 718 Hongjing Lu, near Jinhui Lu, Minhang district. See full address details.
Xizang Nan Lu Flower and Bird Market
With crowded narrow lanes and all manner of wildlife crammed into some disturbing conditions, this is a market for animal lovers to steer clear of. It is possible to avoid some of the worst stalls and stick to the flower and plant specialists however, especially those which line the street outside of the main market. Despite their position on the main thoroughfare outdoors, it’s still possible to get some good value plants from these units, just be sure to bargain hard. Recommended shopsUnit A037 (138 1806 1609)
Monica Flower is one of the nicer indoor shops and offers a range of cut flower services (such as wedding and birthday gifts) in addition to selling small plants. Bonsai start from 65RMB for small, desk-top friendly versions, and reach 500RMB for bigger offerings. There’s also a good range of hanging flowers, cacti and potted flowers starting from 10RMB. Unit 019 (no tel)
This store specialises in beautiful bonsai plants with a welcoming owner who is very willing to teach you how to tell the difference between the different varieties. Prices vary depending on type and presentation (call in for a quote).