A year ago, when the community quarantine starts to ease out in Metro Manila, my friends and I found ourselves in Dangwa Flower Market in Manila, buying some succulents for our homes. Being locked up at home for almost 3 months – a first in our lives – brought out a different version of ourselves and made us realized that if we cannot travel, then might as well bring into our homes some of nature’s beauty.
After a year, the first 5 plants that I adopted have grown in to almost hundreds of plants in my tiny little garden in our home in Tondo, Manila, inspiring not only my family but also our neighbors and barangay officials who get see and adore them.
Gardening has been and still my sweet escape from this crazy world since travelling outside of Metro Manila is still not yet fully allowed. From my tiny little succulent collection, my garden grew and now houses varieties of friendly and sought-after house plants that I can’t help but to feel so attached. I have different varieties of pothos, alocasia, calathea, philodendron and even monstera plants. These plants along with other plants that my grandparents and aunts owned created a tiny little zen for the family, which now turns into our little “tambayan” during our free time.
Though, I must admit that urban gardening still a challenge to me given that we don’t have enough space, I’m happy that the plants that I adopted months ago are still alive and continuously thriving giving everyone at home that refreshing vibe any time of the day.
For those who are wondering how I take care of my plants, let me give you some personal tips that will probably help and inspire you to create your green space in your own homes:
1. Choose the Right Plant for the Available Location.
Since space in Manila is very precious, I specifically planned to just have a vertical garden where I could just hang small pots on one of the vacant walls in our garage. Plants that can grow beautifully in small hanging pots include pothos, which are very friendly even to those who don’t have a green thumb. You can create a wall of pothos by combining varieties of this plant, which will surely provide you a relaxing view at home. Other plant options are sygonium, trailing philodendrons, fittonia and dwarf alocasia. If you opt for a more sustainable garden, you can also have some herbs such as oregano, basil, tarragon, rosemary and mint. You can also have leafy vegetables such as pechay and lettuce.
2. Learn the Right Soil.
Apparently, there are so many kinds of soils to choose from when gardening, and one of the most common is the loam soil – which is widely used in different types of plants. Knowing the right soil for your plants plays a vital role in keeping your babies alive for a long period of time. If you have a sunny area and opt to have potted plants, combining loam soil, coconut husk, rice hull and pumice stone (light-yet-abrasive stone) can help provide enough minerals and aeration for your plants to grow. There are various combinations of these mostly used ingredients in creating your perfect garden soil – you can check some video tutorials online for the perfect soil mix for your plants.
3. Give Them the Light and Air that They Need!
In the first 6 months of my gardening journey, I really had a tough time keeping my plants alive. Thanks to online groups of plant lovers I’ve met online, I’ve learned the importance of grow lights when having an indoor garden. Since my garden area is covered with polycarbonate roof, sunlight barely touches my plants. By installing three grow lights around my garden area, I managed to provide my plants that warmth they need to grow and produce new leaves. Aside from that, to balance the humid in the area, I also installed two small clip-on electric fans to help circulate the air.
4. Water Them – But Don’t Over Do it!
Watering plants is such a relaxing thing to do, agree? I must admit in the first few months of my gardening journey, the main reason why most of my plants almost gave up on me (well, some really died) is because I overwatered them. So, to avoid killing my plants, I learned to schedule their watering requirement – once a week during dry season, and once every two weeks during wet season. By this way, I can avoid putting them in danger such as root rot or insects breeding in their soil. One tip that I can give is provide your plants with water catcher, which can help your plant rehydrated even if you don’t water them for a week or two.
5. Talk to Them!
Just like other living things, plants need TLC – tender, love and care. And if you manage to find yourself talking to them, don’t freak out – most plant parents do that – so it’s normal! Haha! I remember my 8-year-old niece catching me talking to my plants and she’s totally clueless as to why I’m doing that. I have to explain to her that plants can hear us and they know if they are loved or neglected. So, talking to them and asking them to stay beautiful and strong helps them to thrive and stay awesome. You don’t believe me? Check out my tiny garden in our home.
I’m not expert in gardening, so if you have other tips that you can share, feel free to post them in the comment box and let’s share ideas of how we can have a little space of Zen in our homes.
Let’s go Green! Happy planting!