21 years of reaping from flowers

Hanging plants are stylish and trendy. They are a good idea for people with small compounds. PHOTO BY COLLEB MUGUME

What you need to know:

  • This Women’s Day we tell a story of Lillian Kawalya who has grown and sold flowers for more than two decades and used the proceeds to pay school fees for her children up to university.
  • COST: A grafted Rose flower costs between Shs8,000 to Shs15,000, Palms with yellow colour, Alexandra and Royal palm cost between Shs5,000 and Shs30,000 depending on the age.
  • Most indoor flowers range between Shs10,000 to Shs30,000. My lowest price of a flower is Shs5,000.

My name is Nnalongo Lillian Kawalya. I am 57 years old, a resident of Busega and I have been selling flowers for 21 years. I sell all types of flowers, including hanging flowers, indoor, outdoor and fruit tress. I also do gardening and my favourite flowers are roses.

Starting the flower business
I started selling flowers in 1996 after my business of selling cassava and beans became less profitable and a little hectic. I would be away from home for some days buying cassava and beans in Masindi District. My friends were earning more than me yet they even didn’t have to go far from their homes.
I was inspired by my friends who were selling flowers at Clock Tower and were making a lot of money. They taught me the business and also gave me some flowers which I planted at home.
After a month, the flowers were already grown and my neighbours asked to buy them. It is then that I realised that selling flowers would be profitable.
I then asked my friend who was a manager at Wankulukuku grounds for a small space to sell my flowers and she agreed. The place was bushy so I cleared it first. Business was so good. I got a lot of money and I wasn’t paying rent.
After some time, management changed and the new one turned the place into a bar. So, I had to find another place. I hence relocated to Lugogo opposite Shoprite where I worked for three years before going to Northern bypass, Masanafu.
I worked from Northern bypass since 2002 until early last year when I relocated to Kololo bypass just below Kololo SS.

Benefits
From the business, I have educated all my four children up to university level. I have also built my house and rentals in Kibuye, Juuko Zone.
I also live a decent life so, I can afford everything I want and also care for my children’s basic needs.

What it takes to be a gardener
Gardening does not need much, you only have to be focused and determined because flowers yield good profits. Some flowers take just three months to mature. One of the fastest growing flowers is Jolanta. It matures in a month.
Flowers are more profitable over the weekends but you have to keep working for the rest of the days. Some people make bookings early.

Prices
A grafted Rose flower costs between Shs8,000 to Shs15,000, Palms, Alexandra and Royal palm are between Shs5,000 and Shs30,000 depending on the age.
Most indoor flowers range between Shs10,000 to Shs30,000. My lowest price of flower costs Shs5,000.

Dos and don’ts for a beautiful garden
If you have an expensive house, types of flowers such as Laguna, Ashoka or Suya should be in your compound. Do not not mix them with palms.These will make your home classier.
Any beautiful garden should be multipurpose so I usually advise my clients to incorporate a fruit or tree in their gardens.
Putting plants in pots and hanging plants are other good trends that make a home attractive and beautiful.
Flowers can be best if placed at the edges of the garden and in case of a tree, you should never plant a big tree next to the house because it might destroy it.

Challenges
The biggest challenge I have faced is not having a stable place to work. I have to keep shifting from place to place because I have to stay where my job is.
I request the government to give us a gazetted area where we can sell flowers without being disturbed. We lose customers whenever we move.
Also, we are not allowed to import flowers yet some countries such as Kenya have good flowers that we could and beautify our gardens.

Advice to women
I advise women to get out of their comfort zone and work because a man will not buy you everything you need. There is a time when the man will not be there and you will have to provide for your family.
Look for things you can do. It is cheap to start to start a flower business. With only Shs100,000, you can have a garden of flowers that can give you more than Shs 500,000 as profit.
You do not need to buy the flowers. People prune all the time. So, go there, pick some and plant them at your home. In a short time, you will have a garden full of flowers.

COST
A grafted Rose flower costs between Shs8,000 to Shs15,000, Palms with yellow colour, Alexandra and Royal palm cost between Shs5,000 and Shs30,000 depending on the age.
Most indoor flowers range between Shs10,000 to Shs30,000. My lowest price of a flower is Shs5,000.

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