Last year, many Filipinos turned to plants to cope with the new coronavirus. Even now, more and more people are still picking up the hobby. And why not? Plants not only beautified our homes and purify our air, but they also helped in maintaining our mental and physical well-being.
While some people started plant collecting as going with the trend, 64-year-old Leonida Carorasan-Orillo, a veteran “plant-lola” as she preferred to be called, revealed she’s been collecting and tending plants for 41 years now. (Read: The Ultimate Guide To Becoming A Certified Plant Tita or Tito)
“I was in elementary when I started having an interest in my mother’s plant collection, but that time, I couldn’t afford it financially. I told myself, someday, when I’m able and have my own house, I’d build my own garden and collect plants,” Leonida tells My Pope Philippines.
True enough, when she got married and had her own house, Leonida started collecting plants and building her own small garden. However, back then, she couldn’t focus much as she had to juggle between work and taking care of her small kids. Her husband, who was an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in Saudi Arabia, only came home once a year for a one-month vacation.
Like most newbies, Leonida also experienced trial and error in gardening until she learned the proper way to do it.
“You have to be patient. Water the plants every day. Sometimes, I use rice water. I don’t use artificial fertilizers. I just use farm soil or carabao manure,” says Leonida. (Read: Millennial Farmer Shares Wise Words About Farming and Chasing Dreams)
Studies show that animal manure has been used for centuries as a fertilizer and a soil amendment for farming. Not only is it cheaper than artificial fertilizers, but it is also more effective as it slowly releases nutrients into the soil.
“Don’t overwater the plants. Cultivate and trim them every now and then. Sometimes, I even whisper to my plants. Every plant owner knows this,” Leonida adds.
Her Source of Happiness
Although she’d been a certified plant-lola for years now, Leonida admitted that she was only able to give her full attention to her plants when she retired from her job of 39 years.
As a matter of fact, it’s more fun nowadays because she has more options for plants and pots, especially when the plant-selling business boomed. Her favorites include Fortune plants, Five fingers, and flower-bearing plants like roses and gumamelas (hibiscus). (Read: 5 Flowering Plants That Are Easy to Propagate Indoors)
“Looking after my plants beats my boredom. It reduced my stress and anxiety during this lockdown, and eased my sadness after losing my husband a few months ago,” says Leonida.
“There’s always something I look forward to every day. It also keeps me physically active as I treat this as a form of exercise,” she adds.