Where to get plants during the lockdown

Wednesday May 13 2020

A plant exhibitor at the Fabulous Homes

A plant exhibitor at the Fabulous Homes festival last year. Such shopping festivals have been put on hold because of coronavirus. Now that there is a lockdown, many plant lovers are finding it difficult to get plants. Photo by Rachel Mabala 

By Joan Salmon

In times where movements are limited yet the need to beautify our homes cannot wait, there is need to find ways to get more plants than what graces our landscape. However, most of the people we buy flowers and plants from, are in places where access is difficult. Here are a few things you can do to beautify your home in spite of the lockdown.

With time on your hands, you can walk around your neighbourhood and see what plants there are. Aloysius Nangosha, an interior designer, says if there is something you like, ask them. “However, not all can grow from a cutting, so you need to ask about its viability to propagate from the broken piece,” he shares.
Nangosha says the best plants to consider are those that have shoots and one of such is the crown plant.

“However, putting them straight in the garden will not work as they need a lot of care to ensure they thrive. That is why creating a nursery bed where you can monitor their progress, keep them away from direct sunshine, frequently water them is important,” he advises.
However, ensure you observe social distancing and sanitise or handwash with soap when you go to the neighbours.

Use a boda rider
In as much as you may not be able to make the trip to the florist, Nangosha says a boda -boda rider could help you get the plants you need. “However, the catch here is that you must trust the florist from who you will be getting the plants from. That is because some will use your absence to dupe you into taking what you do not need. More to that, if the boda boda rider does not know exactly what you need, they will not bother to check as they will only be providing a delivery service. You must also trust the rider enough to ensure that they will go to where you have sent them and not someone else who may not have good quality,” he adds.

Social media
Lilian Katiso of Maua and more, says people can still order for plants. “We sell various home plants such as ornamental plants and we get the orders on our social media accounts,” she shares. Katiso says that with the shop closed, people need to pre-order so that on Monday, Wednesday and Friday deliveries can be made. She adds that as long as the customer pays the delivery fee, they can get their plants delivered irrespective of the location.
There are many florists and gardeners marketing their plants on social media, so check them out and place your order. However, Ethel Nambowa, a gardener and landscaper, advises that clients should order for plants from trusted sources. They can be recommendations from friends but it is prudent for you to have seen the plants before ordering.

Nambowa says social media marketing has made things easier for her during lockdown. “People keep asking for more pictures in my inbox then they make a choice. More people are ordering for indoor plants during this lockdown season compared to the outdoor plants. I get more orders for water plants that can thrive without soil. They are unique and very durable compared to those that are soil based.”


Air rearing
When you need a certain plant to multiply, Ivan Nkata, a landscaper, says you could force it to bend towards the ground. “Then put soil in the place that touches the ground. In a week or two, roots would have developed. Cut off that portion from the main plant, uproot it and plant elsewhere.” Those that can grow this way include mostella, barrelia, and money plant.

Whether you want to multiply what you already have or have admired what a friend has, Ankara says find where there is a bud on an existing plant.
“It occurs where a leaf attaches itself on a stem. Detach the leaf and leave the bud. Then get wet cotton wool and cover the bud, get a kavera (because it helps hold moisture well) so that the cotton retains the moisture well. After a few weeks, the roots will have developed. Then cut the kavera (polythene bag) and cut under where the cotton wool ends,” he explains.
However, he advises against damaging the cotton wool as it has the roots. You can now plant this in your garden. Plants you can grow this way include hyderanger, and gardenier.

Nkata says that for plants such as papyrus, snake plant, spider grass, ferns, grow one plant and give it time to blossom. “After sometime, get to the root area and separate them into smaller bunches. Plant these wherever you desire.”

A gardener sorts out seeds at a nursery bed.
A gardener sorts out seeds at a nursery bed. One can order seedlings or buy seeds from nurseries. Photo by Beatrice Nakibuuka

Plants such as spider lilies, mums, and dalia have bulbs and these can be used to have more of the plant. ”Dig around the plant until you see the bulb. Then cut a bulb off it and plant it in another place. Before long it will blossom as a plant if its own,” Nkata shares.

Plants such as julanta, hibiscus, and roses can blossom from cuttings. “You could break a youngest branch at the top and put it in a nursery. Give it two to three weeks after which you can transplant it as it would have developed roots hence able to sustain itself,” Nkata shares.
However, that process needs keen watching for the branch to pick. For a faster way, he says you could cut a woody part under the leaf and remove one or two leaves without damaging the bud and push it into the soil.

There are plants that can grow with just seeds. If you have or come across such plants, Nkata says you may scatter the seeds, bag, or pot them. “In a few weeks, they will blossom as long as you do not forget to water them.”

Containers for your nursery
Nangosha shares about what you can use should you have need of nursery bags:
Milk bags- these provide great nursery containers. When emptying it if its contents, only cut a hole on the sides so that later on, you can be able to cut the polyethene into two for your nursery.
Soda plastic bottles- Cut the upper quarter of the bottle off and use the remaining part for your nursery. Even mineral water bottles can do the job.

My experience
Ariella Nassuna
For long, I had desired to get some plants for my home but the ground was still uneven. However, when I finally had it levelled, lockdown was upon us. After a lot of thought, I asked a trusted boda boda rider to help me get traveller’s palms from a gardener. While the gardener and I had agreed on a certain lot, I was disappointed by what the boda boda man came with. Although I had lost out as I got fewer plants, I could not blame the rider because he was not in the know.

Noah Masaba
This lockdown has taught me how to get things done. Previously, I bought every plant in my home and had no clue about how they propagated. However, I have read and talked to those with gardens and so far, I have been able to propagate snake plants. They are doing well and I am proud of myself.