By Zac B. Sarian
People in the ornamental plant business will tell you that gardening is both an enjoyable and profitable source of income. But one has to have his own creative strategies in growing and marketing his or her products.
Of course, different people have their own ideas on how to go about their plant business. Dr. Linda Martinez of Davao City, 70, whom we met at the Kadayawan garden show recently, has her own practical strategies. Just like specializing in plants that she can grow well and that people will buy at a good price.
One of her favorite flowering plants is the bougainvillea which comes in different varieties. Their flowers come in bright colors of red, pink, yellow, white, orange, fuchsia, two-toned, and many others. But her bougainvilleas are grown in presentable containers, well-groomed, and presentable. They are ready for use as décor in the home garden or in resorts and other establishments.
HAPPY BOUGAINVILLEA GARDENER – Dr. Linda Martinez is a senior citizen but who is very healthy and strong to do her own brand of gardening. She produces grafted bougainvilleas that are in full bloom most parts of the year. Bougainvilleas are easy to take care because they are not usually attacked by pests and diseases. They are also resistant to drought. Dr. Martinez is shown among her flowering bougainvilleas at the Kadayawan garden show’s commercial section.
SOLD – Dr. Linda Martinez and her assistant put in a plastic bag one of the bougainvilleas being bought by a customer at the Kadayawan garden show. Customers love the colorful flowers of the bougainvillea.
GRAFTED BOUGAINVILLEA – This one of the bougainvilleas displayed by Dr. Linda Martinez in her stall at the Kadayawan garden show. The plant is grown in a presentable container ready for use as décor.
PRICELESS DWARF KAMUNING – Dr. Linda Martinez shows her beautiful dwarf Kamuning that is at least 15 years old. Every now and then she trims the tree and gets hundreds of trimmings to propagate each time.
TWO-YEAR-OLD DWARF KAMUNING –DR. Linda Martinez holds a two-year-old dwarf Kamuning grown in a nice container. This sells for about R250. It is an interesting plant developed through irradiation.
MINIATURE SANTAN –This is a miniature flowering santan grown in a small container. It can be conversation piece among visitors. Aside from santan, other small plants are also grown in small pots for sale.
DWARF KAMUNING GALORE – These are “finished” potted dwarf Kamuning that command a price of P400 or higher. The beauty about propagating small plants that command a high price is that they don’t occupy a lot of space. These were displayed at the Kadayawan garden show by Dr. Martinez.
FLOWERING SMALL TILLANDSIAS – These are Tillandsias that are also being grown in the garden of Dr. Linda Martinez. Although her garden is only 1,000 square meters wide, she can grow a lot of small plants. These include the Tillandsias which can even be hung, not needing any potting medium. There are hundreds of Tillandsia varieties, some of them very small but there are also bigger ones.
The plants are usually three feet tall with crowns that are full of flowers. These are grafted on trunks that are of considerable size so that they are sturdy. Some rootstocks are grafted with different varieties so that the flowers come in different glorious hues. Actually, Dr. Martinez said that she and her lone worker copied the technique of the Thai pioneers in making their grafted bougainvillea. She says that the technique is very easy. She said she bought a grafted bougainvillea imported by a local trader and studied how they can do the grafting.
Dr. Martinez says they use as rootstock the woody trunks of old bougainvilleas. Fortunately, there are suppliers who sell them the freshly cut woody trunks of bougainvilleas.
Dr. Martinez said she has very good reasons why she likes to produce and sell grafted bougainvilleas. They are very hardy plants that are practically not attacked by pests and diseases. They can take dry conditions well. When you forget to water them for a number of days, they easily recover.. Subjecting them to dry conditions also makes them more floriferous, according to her.
Customers pay a good price for bougainvilleas that are well groomed and blooming. Most of her plants in containers sell for R1,500. There are, of course, junior plants that sell much less.
DWARF KAMUNING – Another favorite money maker of Dr. Martinez is the dwarf Kamuning (Murraya) which was developed by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) through irradiation. This is really a plant that can be very decorative when “tailored” by the artistic hands of gardeners like Dr. Martinez. Through judicious pruning or trimming, the plant can be formed into a compact specimen plant with very tiny textured leaves.
Old dwarf Kamuning can be formed into round heads that bear tiny white flowers that are fragrant. The fruits become attractive red when they ripen.
By doing their own propagations, Dr. Martinez and her garden assistant can cut the cost of production of their plants. When Dr. Martinez trims one of her mother trees that are about 15 years old, she does not throw away the trimmings. She propagates them for sale. Each time she trims a mother tree, she could propagate at least 100 rooted cuttings. Three months old propagations fetch P25 apiece. When the same are six months old, they are sold at P100. Those that are two years old are prized at P250. Bigger ones sell for P400 each or more.
Dr. Martinez loves to propagate the Kamuning because they don’t occupy a big space in the garden. And they are bought at a relatively high price too.
By the way, Dr. Martinez is a medical doctor who opted to retire from her job as pathologist at the Davao Medical Center when she was just past over forty. She has since enjoyed and profited from doing her own brand of gardening. Of course, aside from her two focus ornamentals, she plants various flowering and foliage ornamentals in mini pots. In the near future, she intimated plans to go into growing fruit trees in containers.