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Too often we had encountered customers who were mad over some of their plants, which they claimed had died, seemingly of their own accord. Well, in our experiences, we have yet to encounter a suicidal plant. So, we told them the most common causes of plant collapse were over-watering and under-watering. Yes, but that’s not what they wanted to hear, we discovered. All they wanted to know was how long the plants would last, and how frequently must they replace them.

Nature is about life – the balance of life. Many people forget that plants are also living organisms that breathe and grow and reproduce (propagate). Too often they treat plants like furniture or some machine that is supposed to function according to their wishes. Should the plant die from improper care, these people get frustrated like they would when their VCRs won’t function.

So how are they supposed to actually care about the trees in their neighbourhood or the polluted rivers in their city when they see plants as a fragile machine prone to breakdown?

You might think we’re exaggerating but that customers we mentioned about earlier is not an isolated case. You’ll be shocked to encounter a whole lot of people who think plants are furniture. They at least know that plants need water, but still they would ask, “This plant low maintenance or not?”

Ironically enough, it’s this group of people who has the most potential to learn to love plants. Everyone starts off buying plants for specific purposes, mainly to beautify their homes. It’s when their plants collapse due to neglect or ignorance that they start to view them as burdens.

Here, at Terra Garden, we have a part to play – We offer tips and insights about caring for plants. We design beautiful gardens that encourage people to take a more active role in caring for their plants. Only when they experience success in nurturing a thriving plant, will they begin to appreciate the pleasure of nurturing life, and ultimately, the environment.

The advent of nurseries

As mentioned in previous articles, it’s not that people don’t buy plants. It’s that they lack knowledge in caring for them that eventually leads them to view plants as burdensome. Too often, they want the cheapest or most convenient plant, hoping that the plants could somehow take care of themselves like in the wild.

Well, for today, we are offering some insights into the nurseries industry and share some tips on how to choose and buy plants at nurseries.

The first nurseries sprang up from some enterprising people who cashed in on the growing popularity of ornamental plants, selling them in night markets or roadside stalls. Of course, then, they didn’t have full-scale nurseries. Usually, they trekked deep into the jungle to find prize species. Often, they would find healthy species of houseplants in rural villages. They would “offer” their services to the villagers to clear away “unsightly” growth of bougainvillea or palm.

Don’t be surprise that many of the nurseries today still get their stock that way. But mostly they get them from propagation farms or grow them.

Before you set off to buy plants from a nursery, you should already have in mind where you intend to put the plants. For example, are they meant to decorate the bathroom or balcony, or are they for your garden? This is important for determining which plants are suitable for the different conditions in your home.

At the nursery, the different conditions found at home are replicated, for example, shady, full-sunlight, dry, humid, and so on. This helps you decide what plants are suitable for your particular needs.

Say you want a nice shrub in your living room, which is particularly shaded, and air-conditioned. Look for plants at the nursery that are kept in the shade, and not exposed to too much wind or rain. Similarly, plants for your garden should be displayed in full-sunlight at the nursery. These plants have been acclimatized to certain conditions and it is not wise to change these conditions unless you know what you’re doing.

If you’re looking for flowering varieties, bear in mind that once a flower is in full bloom, it can last no more than 5 days, so plan ahead. If you have a party in three days time, choose flowering plants that are already in bloom.

Another tip for nursery shopping – be suspicious of dirt-cheap plants. Plants are generally cheap although some species are quite pricey. Shop around for a little bit, but most of all, arm yourself with knowledge. Some nursery workers might promise you anything, or worse, give you generalised information that might prove detrimental.

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