Nursery owners turn to plants

GUIGUINTO, Bulacan, Philippines — On Saturday, Leonor Mavidez traveled all the way from Batangas province to get a local source of ornamental and houseplants here for her collection.

Mavidez was just one of the hundreds of plant enthusiasts who continued to flock to the town’s plant nurseries for what they described as “therapeutic purposes.”

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“Taking care of plants gives me a good feeling. Apart from that, some plants help purify the air and that’s essentially important nowadays,” she told the Inquirer.

While people have suddenly acquired a green thumb, online and in-store sales of plants have been brisk since the coronavirus pandemic struck in March, garden owners here said.

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Christian Javier, owner of C4U Garden and president of Guiguinto Garden Cooperative, said her sales started to pick up in June when many areas in Metro Manila and nearby provinces eased their quarantine restrictions.

“When most of Luzon was placed on a strict lockdown, our place looked like a ghost town. Some local officials were closely watching us, making sure we won’t sell to customers,” Javier said.

But they eventually saw a spike in demand for houseplants when quarantine restrictions were relaxed.

“The brisk sales continued until August when our profit increased by as much as 40 percent compared to the days before the pandemic,” Javier said.

“During those three months (June to August), our monthly sales reached between P35,000 and P50,000. Now sales remain steady between P20,000 and P30,000,” she said.

According to Javier, many of her customers lost their jobs during the pandemic but found a way to earn through online selling of plants.

She said among the most in-demand houseplants are poinsettia, monstera deliciosa, aglonimas, birkin, celum, lipstick, spider, alembong and bacolares.

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Elenita Torres-Santiago, 51, an industrial engineer, said the garden business of her parents helped her and her siblings finish school.

Her family was originally from Batangas where her parents had lanzones and coffee farms. When her father worked as a garden helper at a nursery in Barangay Violeta here, they eventually moved here and began their rose garden and nursery in 1980.

“During that time, roses still grew in Bulacan until the early 2000. But when it became difficult to grow roses because of the hot and humid weather, we then switched to selling ornamental plants,” she said.

For most of them, growing plants is no longer a hobby but has become a source of income and mental wellness in this time of health crisis, she said.


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