Ministers have racked up a $52,000 bill for flowers in the first 11 months of the National-led Government.

Finance Minister Bill English spent $4051 on flowers from January to November - double the amount of most of his ministerial colleagues and second only to the Prime Minister, who spent $5503.

It was also double the $1928 spent on flowers by Mr English's predecessor Michael Cullen over the same period in 2008.

The figures were obtained by Labour MP Chris Hipkins, who dubbed Mr English "the Dipton petal" and said he should lead by example if he expected the wider public service workers to accept wage freezes spending cuts.

"He needs to take a close look at what he's spending money on. $4000 might not be a lot to someone earning as much as he is, but to the average Kiwi household, it is a lot."

A spokesman said Mr English was surprised to discover how much the flowers were costing and had now requested the number and size of flower arrangements for the office suite to be cut from two to one a week.

Mr English was not involved in details such as the flowers the office got and had not been aware of the costs until he saw the response to Mr Hipkins.

In total, ministers in the National Government, including the five ministers from support parties, spent $52,010.80 on flowers from January to mid November - more than the $45,733 Labour ministers spent over the same period in 2008.

However, National has ditched the practice of providing fruit baskets to ministerial offices - which would generate savings.

Fresh flower arrangements in ministerial offices are a regular feature provided by Ministerial Services because of the number of visitors ministers get.

However, some spurn them - Health Minister Tony Ryall had the lowest flower spend - at just $53 for the 11 month period.

A spokeswoman said the office only had flowers if staff brought some in from their home gardens.

"We get enough colour in our office from the minister's wonderful shirts and ties."

Customs Minister Maurice Williamson was also low on $74.

Mr Hipkins said he believed it was appropriate for ministers to have some form of floral arrangement, but questioned the high level given the calls for cutbacks the Government had made.

"You do have to question at a time when they're asking everybody else to be cutting back if it's an essential or is there something else they could be doing, like getting a couple of potplants in instead."

Mr English's spending has come under hot scrutiny this year following controversy over his housing allowance for his home in Wellington - a home for which he no longer collects any allowance.

On Friday, his Crown drivers were also criticised for parking on yellow lines and partially blocking a disabled parking space while waiting for Mr English to have a hair cut.

Under Ministerial Services, payment for flowers is included as an 'operational resource' - a wide ranging category which also includes postage, kitchen supplies, koha, and luggage.

Ministers are expected to ensure their spending is only for ministerial business, can withstand public scrutiny and is good value for money.

FLOWER POWER
* Total for National, Jan 1 to Nov 17, 2008: $52,010 average $1793
* Total for Labour, Jan 1 to Nov 17, 2008: $45,733 average $1475

HIGHEST
* Prime Minister John Key - $5503
* (Helen Clark - $4900 In 2008)
* Finance Minister Bill English - $4051
* (Michael Cullen - $1928 in 2008)
* Local Government Minister Rodney Hide (Act) - $2893
* Education Minister Anne Tolley - $2716

LOWEST
* Health Minister Tony Ryall - $53
* Customs Minister Maurice Williamson - $74.67
* Arts and Culture Minister Chris Finlayson - $397
* Consumer Affairs Minister Heather Roy (Act) - $622