As the nationwide quarantine countermeasure against COVID-19 reaches its seventh month, people throughout the country have been seeking more and more ways to de-stress through developing new hobbies. One activity that has recently gained popularity is the growing of plants.
According to Kenneth Ngo, the man behind the Facebook page on gardening, The Succulent Haven by Ken, succulents are one of the best plants to start one’s journey on becoming a certified plantito or plantita.
Ngo, who served as the resource person during the Learning Resource Center’s (LRC’s) webinar entitled “Plant therapy: learn how to grow succulents to relax and recharge,” talked about the care and growing of this wildly diverse type of plants that include cactuses, agaves, euphorbias, and aloes.
The webinar is the third installment of LRC’s “Unplugged” series, which has been encouraging the university constituents to engage in non-digital activities to relax and de-stress at these times.
Ngo said that succulents are different from other plants due to their highly reduced need for water. Overwatering is, in fact, one of the most common ways for succulents to rot and die, he warned.
He cited several ways to secure the long life of succulents. One is ensuring that the medium where the succulent is planted is loose and does not retain much water. Another is to carefully trim a newly bought succulent’s roots and allow it to air-dry for two weeks prior to repotting.
He also recommended the use of the medium called granulated volcanic soil (GVS), which changes colors depending on its moisture level. This, Ngo said, could be used as an indicator of when to water the plant.
He also differentiated between succulents that are “hard-grown” or grown in a medium that has low organic substrate and mimicked natural conditions, versus ones that have aggressive feeding fertilizer (AFF) that is used to inundate plants with fertilizers to make it shinier.
Ngo demonstrated the repotting of a cactus and noted that by following the simple rules of proper lighting and proper watering, succulents could grow well.
(This was originally posted on the UP Los Baños website on October 20, 2020)