LEAF IT BE!
If you Google the benefits of having houseplants, most sites have lists that run the gamut of personal well-being (lowers stress, gives off positive energy) to environmental enhancement (natural air purifier, helps you work better).
Houseplants need not be fancy for you to enjoy the benefits, although a bit of green thumb may in order. After all, like any household animal companions, they, too, require proper care – just be thankful they don’t shed hair and are less likely to startle your guests.
Here are five plants that you can welcome into your home and, unless everything you touch turns to dust, they are – in theory – pretty sturdy, as living things go. You don’t need to fuss around in the soil in all fours and get your precious clothes dirty, and the most work you’ll have to do is change pots when the outgrow the tiny ones you bought them in.
Best part is, you don’t have to hunt high and low to put a touch of green in your otherwise drab living space. These are available in most plant shops, and are in abundance in your mom’s favorite plant place, Farmers Garden. A destination for perennial plant shoppers in Metro Manila, this strip of everything-you’ll-need for your own green haven located in Araneta Center, Quezon City is just the place for you to glean the ways of the green. And in this instance, you don’t have to leaf it to the experts.
If you buy this plant thinking you’ll wake up one day with a bag of money at your doorstep, then you really have an active imagination – and pretty darn lucky if it actually happens! But as creativity goes, most fortune plants (this one, actually the Striped Dracaena) come in intricate designs and with ribbons. Water generously every other day, we are told. They sell three for only P100 (short stems) and P80 for one long stem. Those in small pots sell for P150; in medium sized pots for P300 (in photo); and big ones for P350.
Known and spelled in local parlance as “bacolares,” most sellers attest to this plant’s durability. They don’t always come with ribbons, but when they do, they coax a bit of a smile out of you. They aren’t leafy, so maybe this tough looking thing isn’t for everyone, but you have to admire its flexibility: It can thrive indoors or outdoors, under the sun or in the shade. And if it still dies on your watch, maybe you need a new hobby! They grow up to maybe three feet (as the lady describes with her hands), and sell three for P100 for the tiny ones; P70 for the ones in small pots (in photo); and about P400 for a one-footer.
Zebra Plant/Zebra Cactus
Another pretty durable plant, this succulent is known as the Zebra Plant/Cactus. Actually the Haworthia, these striped cuties belong to a group that are in-demand as event giveaways because, just look at them! So cute! Succulents also come in a variety of types, colors, sizes, and patterns that are almost irresistible to plant lovers. And for only P70 for the tiny ones, and P100 for the small ones, they are pretty affordable to buy in bulk. For your room, splurge a little and go for the mid-sized one for P250. They can thrive indoors/outdoors, under the sun or in the shade as well; and grow about as high as a foot. Water twice a week or every other day if they are under the sun; and be sure to change pots of they grow bigger.
The Bromeliaceae, or bromeliads for easier pronunciation, has about 3,475 known species! The most common are these tough-looking ones with thick, sturdy foliage usually growing in a rosette, with color in the center (which is locally referred to as the “flower” and thick enough to even look plastic). The most popular colors for sale are red, yellow, orange, and pink. It is another durable plant, usually put indoors and popular with hotels because they are easy to care for. But you don’t need hotel-grade fussiness to keep them because these plants prefer partial shade if outdoors, not direct sunlight; and can be watered every other day (except in summer, when you water them every day). They normally sell at P150 and grow about one to two feet in height.
Let’s go a bit bigger this time. It is hard to look for this plant’s scientific name, and Googling “rainforest plant” basically gives thousands of pictures of plants that grow in the rainforests (and finding a match may drive you nuts), but we know that this variety is leafy; grows tall, not wide; and has dark “flowers” that look like dried up Bird of Paradise flowers that never quite bloomed. This is ideal for wider homes – think ancestral houses, maybe, if you have one – because sellers say they can grow about four feet in height. They can, however, brighten boring corners of your spacious rooms with a dash of dark greens. These ones sell for P3,500 but can give you years of happy “FernGully” feels if you buy several, and water them diligently.
Special thanks to Ms. Anna of stalls #50 and #56, Farmers Garden, Gen. McArthur Avenue (across Farmers Market), Araneta Center, Quezon City.