If you are a plant lover you know how addictive plants are, you can never stop at just one. And buying plants can be an expensive affair. How about we show you how you can continue your passion for plants and keep growing your plant collection?
Watch our workshop on “How to have More Plants without Buying” with our speaker Aiswarya Guptha. A young girl who loved plants from childhood and has never bought a plant. She will be sharing her journey and ways of having more plants without buying. You can connect with her on her Instagram page “plant_swap_hyderabad”
Aishwariya’s tips to have more plants without buying:
“Hello, everyone. Welcome to another workshop by TAOS. Today we have with us, Miss. Aishwariya Gupta. Today we will discuss having more plants without buying them. Let me introduce Aishwariya a bit to our audience. She has been actively into gardening since her childhood, but she claims not to have bought a single plant to date. It was either gifted to her, or she would exchange her plants with other plant lovers. So, let’s hear from her now, without any further delay,” said Zehra.
“Hello, everyone. So, since childhood, many of our’s parents have been into gardening. You might have noticed that when some of your relatives would have some fancy plant, we would take a cutting, or seeds, to propagate them at our place. So that idea struck me, and then I gradually started a page called plant swap, wherein people can swap their plants and expand their collections. I wanted to live a low-waste lifestyle, so I started with composting. I used to take up recyclable things, starting from newspapers to cardboard, bottles, etc. I also realized that a good amount of vegetable waste is present in our households. From there, I started making compost. I used them for my plants, but when I started producing more compost than my plants, I started collecting more plants. I have about 40 to 50 varieties currently, and all of them are a result of swapping or as a gift,” said Aishwariya.
“It is indeed inspiring to know about your journey,” said Zehra.
“At first, we will discuss propagation since plants have various different ways in which they can be propagated. I have a philodendron here, which is a vine plant. The way to identify it is that every node in the plant will also have a root forming there. So, to propagate these plants, you have to cut from the node where the root comes out. This plant has an aerial root. So, you just have to take a scissor and cut the stem just a bit further from where the aerial root is. Then, you just have to submerge the root into the soil. It can also be water propagated, wherein the node must touch the water,” said Aishwariya.
“What do you use as pots?”
“You can use simple containers you get during food deliveries, just drill a hole in it, and it can be used. Change the water frequently, and that will do. Here we have a Hawaiian ti. If your plant is growing too big, you can trim the stems. You can cut it where there are fewer leaves to get more nodes, so you can plant it in another pot while this plant will keep growing healthily,” said Aishwariya.
“This plant also grows in water?” asked Zehra.
“Yes. Most plants do this during initial root growth. Later they can be shifted back to the soil. So next, we have a Syngonium plant. In this plant, there was almost a finger’s distance between the leaf and root node. It grew farther apart in some other places because I had kept it in low light, and it stretched to get some light. You can break them at the root node and then place them in soil or water to propagate them. Then, we have a Zi-Zi plant here.”
“You have kept two plants in the same pot?”
“Yes, I swap too many plants to provide a pot for all of them. Besides, they are indeed growing very well while sharing the same pot, so we can easily do that,” informed Aishwariya.
“Amazing,” said Zehra.
“For the Zi-Zi plant, you just have to cut out a leaf, which is sufficient to form roots. The root would form at the bottom, and then it will form a Rhizome, which will have a bulb-like structure. You can propagate it in water or soil. Alternatively, you can divide the rhizome bulb and propagate it then. Another small tip for gardening is that you should remove the dust on top of the leaves every now and then, or the leaves will not be able to photosynthesize. You have to take a tissue and use diluted lemon water to rub the leaves, and the dust will come out. To clean more leaves, just wash them under a running tap,” said Aishwariya.
“Why do we need to use lime water?”
“Limewater, or any other citrus material, has a strong effect and is thus used for cleaning purposes widely. We can use normal water, but lemon water does the work more strongly,” she informed.
“Okay. Please continue,” said Zehra.
“I have a Monsterra here, which, again, I got as a swap. This is also a vine, so it works the same way as the Philodendron,” said Aishwariya.
“So, when you swap plants with someone, do you just give them a cutting or a potted plant?” asked Zehra.
“I don’t give pots. I generally swap the rooted plants in the container in which they have been growing. Sometimes, I even give away cuttings. It works both ways,” said Aishwariya.
“How does this process of change accurately work?”
“Generally, what I do is I mention all the plants that are present with me, Some of them are always available with me. I keep posting stories and getting replies from people. Sometimes, people would also come asking for plants, while they may not have one to swap. I would share whichever plant is available with me then,” said Aishwariya.
“We then have a cactus, which is a very fleshy plant that stores the water in the stem itself. I would cut them from the nodes again and propagate them in the soil. I got this cactus as a cutting myself, and it will take time to grow fruits. You can cut the node using scissors and place it in the soil about an inch deep. There is another variety of cactus here, which you have to hold and break from one end and then propagate in soil,” said Aishwariya.
“Do you have other varieties of plants as well, or foliage itself?”
“I don’t have flowering plants. I mainly focus on foliage ones and succulents. I might try vegetable plants sometime. So, we have a snake plant here, which can also be grown from a leaf cutting. They are also having a rhizome kind of root structure, which opens up the possibility of propagating it differently. This is a division kind of propagation, wherein you just need to pull them apart and plant them separately. You can propagate a jade plant as well easily. You can do it from a stem cutting. You just have to cut it with a sharp object and then plant them in the soil. I’ll show you how a ‘mother of thousand’ plant propagates. It has its own different types of propagation methods. On the border of the leaf, it grows plantlets. Every hill sort of edge keeps getting plantlets, which can be propagated. You just have to put the plantlet in the soil, and that will do. It requires a lot of sunlight, but owing to thick leaves, much less water. If I have the rooted plant ready, I generally swap them. Else I would give away the plantlets. This is a raat ki rani plant since it blooms in the night time. One thing to prevent strictly is overwatering, or else the plant might develop patches of yellow. You can just cut one leaf and place it in the soil. That’ll do,” said Aishwariya.
“Can you tell us about the soil, the mixture that you use?”
“Sure. It mostly depends upon the kind of plant. Most of my plants grow on a mixture of garden soil and compost in a 50:50 ratio. Additionally, every year I change the top layer of the soil with new compost to keep the nutrients intact. For plants like cactuses, I do not use anything on them. I let them grow on their own,” informed Aishwariya.
“So, the next one is a penny-worth plant. Its leaf’s shape is like that of a coin. In this plant, each leaf is attached to a stem, and that stem crawls over the soil. That’s how it grows. This is a runner plant, and to propagate it, we need to break it at the leaf level since each stem is having its own leaf and roots. So, you can plant the cutting, and it would then grow. This would cover the propagation of houseplants. Next, I would like to talk about composting. I started my gardening journey with composting. As much as 70% of household waste is organic waste which can be composted. If we do not, they will end up in landfills, creating various environmental and health hazards. I’ll show a bit of how I do it. You would need a container first, preferably a small one, while you are starting out. Then, you will have to make holes in the bottom part of it so that the water is able to drain. You have to fill the lower part with newspaper and light particles so that they let the water flow through. Then, we need to add dry leaves and browns to the container. As browns, you can add cardboard, newspapers, etc. Then we add leaves or vegetable waste like peels, even flowers, calcium, etc., as greens. To avoid fleas and insects, I use coco husk in the container as a cover for the greens. We can add some water to provide the correct amount of moisture, as it would allow proper fermentation. To install microbes in our compost, we can use buttermilk. The last and most important thing is oxygen. To enable proper aeration, you can nurture the mixture by hand about once a month, especially if you find that your compost is turning hard. We can also do vermicomposting, or worm composting, wherein we use worms. When you add them to your compost, the process gets completed faster,” said Aishwariya.
“That was an amazing session indeed. Thank you for joining us today.”