‘I used to be a plant killer . . .’
By Ruth L. Navarra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 16, 2020 at 4:03 am

(Third in a series)

Plantitos and plantitas, or plant enthusiasts, know how to poke fun of themselves.

One meme shows a person on top of a palm tree offering it in exchange for a house and lot. In another, a plant owner stands next to a potted moringa plant inside the house, which suggests the malunggay is safe from covetous neighbors.

There are many other variations of such memes. And having a laugh is one way to deal with the stress brought about by the surge in plant prices, fueled by the demand from newbie plant enthusiasts since the quarantine.

Plantitas and a plantito share the joys and the pains of gardening.

Jennifer B. Perez

Jennifer B. Perez

Entrepreneur

My love for plants started years ago when all I could afford were these cute little cacti and succulents. Then in 2018 I started collecting houseplants to decorate our living space. Now I have more than 200 plants.

At first, I collected plants that were easy to grow indoors, required low light and were not fussy about humidity. Now I love aroids, anthuriums and velvet-leaf philodendrons.

I think growing plants as a hobby is a good way of reconnecting with nature. Especially now that we are facing this pandemic, we get the chance to think of something else other than ourselves. In a way it can relieve stress, boredom and anxiety. Although the prices of plants today are high compared to pre-COVID (new coronavirus disease), I would say, if you are just starting to like plants, then you’re in for a treat.

Sheila Dy Tiu

Sheila Dy Tiu

Mommy blogger

It all started with wanting to bring some greenery into the house since plants serve as natural air purifiers. My first purchase was an areca palm tree back in 2016.

I am obsessed with ferns. I have around 20 varieties. I also love growing monsteras, anthuriums and philodendrons.

Buy plants from a trusted seller so you can be certain you’ll be bringing home a healthy plant. Research the care guide of the type of plants you want. All plants need our tender loving care and time.Fozzy Castro-Dayrit

CalligrapherI’ve always thought of myself as a plant killer so I avoided it for so long. My mom always told me that I should have them in the house. So when we had our house renovated about two years ago, I decided to get some and ended up killing them. Haha. My mom gave me a peace lily and it lived a bit longer. And then I was hooked.

I’ve figured out that some plants don’t like my house—philodendrons, sensations, even snake plants. I rotate them in and out. I love leafy plants. Totally hooked on alocasias and homalomenas now.Have a plant support group of a few close friends. And only buy from trusted sellers (some will sell even if roots aren’t established). Or better yet, get plant/cutting ayuda from a family or friend’s garden to start you off.

Cy Ynares

Cy Ynares

The Bald Baker

To be honest, my love for plants started (or took off) during the quarantine. Initially, I just had three token plants in the house for decoration—a fiddle, a monstera and a yucca. But since the quarantine I have over 35 plants in the house now.

My favorite plants to grow now would be philodendrons. They’re easy to grow, they become super lush real quick, and the leaves are just so beautiful. As much as possible, try to use a well aerated soil mix and don’t go crazy with the fertilizer. It’ll avoid root rot, which is one of the worst things that can happen.

Marjorie Pineda-Uy

Marjorie Pineda-Uy

Blogger at LivingMarjorney.com

Gardening is very rewarding. It doesn’t only provide healthy food, it also benefits your physical and mental health. I am a plantita and also an #OABlogger (Organic Agriculture Blogger) and I promote organic agriculture in the country.

It started in 2011 when I was invited by the Agricultural Training Institute to visit several farms in the Philippines. For the past nine years, we’ve been traveling around the country to learn the benefits of organic farming. The experience has taught me to appreciate the noble works of our farmers and to continue loving and caring for Mother Earth. Setting up my own garden at home in small pots and containers was the way to start it.

I grow vegetables from seeds. I started with herbs like rosemary, mint, oregano and tarragon. Now, I have about 25 vegetables and herbs—eggplant, tomatoes, pechay, mustasa, kangkong, bush sitao, ginger, calamansi and squash; oregano, lemongrass, mint and basil. I have ornamental plants, too, like mayana and marigold to attract beneficial insects. I also have blue ternate plants.

For newbie plantitas, there are videos that teach how to grow specific plants and tips on how to grow plants for beginners.

Small space should not be a concern. They can grow vegetables in pots and reusable containers. Milk cartons, plastic bottles, ice cream containers can be used as planters/pots. Not only will you help save Mother Earth, you also save money. You can also use tetra packs as plant labels. Segregate food wastes from others for disposal. Use kitchen scraps for compost and fruit peels to make fermented fruit juice, fertilizer for plants.

Gardening is therapeutic. Growing plants is calming and relaxing. It makes me happy to see that they grow each day. Harvesting vegetables is fulfilling and sharing them with others gives joy.

Trixie Lee

Trixie Lee

Entrepreneur/plant parent

I started growing vegetables back in April during the enhanced community quarantine, then a good friend of mine sent me three potted indoor house plants. I got amused by them so I bought a few more. I now have over 100 pots of indoor plants.

I have a number of different genera of plants in my collection, but my favorite ones are the monsteras, philodendrons and anthuriums. I’m drawn to the interesting leaf patterns, unusual fenestrations and leaf variegations that they exhibit.

When just starting, try caring for the less expensive plants first before venturing to the more expensive kinds. I killed a number of plants when I was just starting, but eventually you will learn and get the hang of it. Make time to observe your plants; you’ll be amazed and mesmerized by what you will see.

Always do your research first and buy from reputable sellers only. Since there is a big boom in the indoor plant business lately, there are a number of sellers who sell unestablished plants.

There are many friendly plantito and plantita sellers who will offer you advice on how to best take care of the plants; don’t be afraid to ask. Lastly, for those interested to collect the rarer species of indoor plants, prepare to shell out good money since the prices are crazy these days. INQ

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