I have been ordering plants online, but mostly through the help of Lyndi who compiles our orders and takes charge of the coordination and logistics. However, in view of the dire lack of supply of costuses in Singapore, I decided to exercise some initiative by putting in an order of my own.
Initially, I wanted to put an order with Dave of Gingerus. But he refused to obtain a phytosanitary certificate (citing inconvenience), so I decided not to risk it and passed him over for other suppliers. I eventually settled for Aloha Tropicals.
To be very honest, I was a little apprehensive and wary about Aloha because i've heard mixed reviews. Although some people had positive things to say, most were generally unhappy with the service they received. Some even accused the owner Andy for either mixing up their orders or giving them plants which they never ordered. I held on to blind faith.
Andy was quite quick to collate my orders. The only paperwork he needed to do on his end was to procure a phytosanitary certificate, which costs USD90. The rest of the process was relatively easy and painless. Included in my order of costuses was a Passiflora pfordtii tiger and a Aristolochia brasiliensis.It was rather risky order these and they were relatively more fragile and had to be shipped in a soiless medium.
The import permit which costs SGD11 was payable by me at AVA during collection. Andy shipped my order via EMS and the transit between California and Singapore took about 4 working days. I ran into some difficulties when I was tracking my order because of the disruption over the Easter holidays. However, when the shipment did arrive, it was relatively easy tracking its status with Singpost (Speedpost). Within the same day, Speedpost sent my parcel for customs clearance before finally ending up at AVA.
Apart from the Costus red basal, which Andy substituted with the Zingiber Pagoda Jewel, Andy got the rest of my order (consisting of 18 plants) right. The quality of the plants cannot be questioned because all but one of the costuses have sprouted. Even the passiflora and Aristolochia which looked limp and dehydrated at first, has bounced back to health!
So what exactly, did I order?
Costus 'Peru Yellow'
Costus 'Peruvian pink'
Costus igneus fiery costus
Costus longibractiatus 'Kiss of Death'
Costus curvibractiatus 'Red Yellow Waxy'
Costus 'Red Ball'
Costus 'Eskimo Kiss'
Costus 'Peruvian Pineapple'
Costus 'Raspberry Yoghurt'
Costus 'Red Feathers'
Costus 'Belieze Chocolate'
Costus 'Vietnam Lavender'
Etlingera elatior 'Siam Rose'
Calathea casapito 'Bronze Pagoda'
Calathea maratina 'Black Cigar'
Passiflora pfordtii tiger
With this order, I now have close to 50 different species of costuses! Does that make me the biggest collector of costuses in Singapore, after the ginger gardens? But there's still so much more out there to procure.
The Aristolochia brasiliensis (pictured below) or Pelican Flower is unlike any other Aristolochia. It is an extremely rare and exotic vine which i'm sure, would be the talking point of any tropical garden!