Traditional Flowers You'll Want to Grow in Your Garden
These familiar blossoms will give your outdoors a homey Pinoy touch.
There is no lack for vividly colorful and sweet-smelling flowers in tropical Philippines. In fact, a traditional home with a yard usually has a collection of floral greens and fruit-bearing trees, which can easily grow unattended due to the local climate. So if you have even just a small plot of land, make use of it and hone the skills your inner plantita or plantito by cultivating a vibrant garden of these traditional flowering plants:
The national flower sampaguita is typically grown using cuttings. A four- to five-inch mature stem with healthy nodes will do the trick—simply remove leaves one to two inches from where you’ll plant it, but make sure to retain a few near the top end that so that the cutting can still photosynthesize.
A small cup with holes in the bottom is a good choice when trying to root your cutting, and doing so will take around two weeks. Water daily, but make sure that it’s draining well.
After roots have sprouted, you can now transfer your sampaguita into a bigger pot, or on the ground.
RL Tip: When planting your sampaguita in a pot, make sure to regularly trim it. Sampaguita are shrubby but also vine-like, and may trail on the soil or run up trellises. When it does, the soil in your pot may not have enough nutrients to support all its stems and leaves, and this may lead to malnutrition. Malnutrition is less of an issue when growing sampaguita directly on the ground, but trimming can still be beneficial in keeping the plant healthy.
Bougainvillea produces the most vibrant blossoms, and as it is a thorny climber, it has become sort of an ornamental deterrent on walls of many Filipino homes.
Similar to sampaguita, cuttings are the best way to propagate your bougainvillea. As this is a tropical plant, keep it outdoors. You’ll want to root a six-inch step in a pot first, though, burying around an inch or two of the nodes into the rich loam. Rooting will take anywhere between four to eight weeks, so just be patient and remember to water once the soil is dry!
Once its rooted, you’ll have to be very careful with transferring it into the ground as it can be very fragile. The less you handle it, the better its chances of settling in its new habitat faster. Make sure to water only when the moisture in the soil is gone, but don’t keep it too dry either—water the plant when it’s starting to look wilted.
When a bougainvillea has settled it becomes a fast grower. Proper fertilizer will also yield beautiful blossoms. Trim regularly to keep the plant healthy.
Another flowering plant that grows from cuttings, the ever-popular santan is a staple in traditional Filipino homes. Best grown from cuttings this plant blooms into blossoms of red, yellow, and pink, and is solely for the outdoors.
Collect new-growth cuttings (those that are sprouting at the ends of your plant) that are around six inches long. Make to diagonally cut off the stalk a good centimeter below the node, as this is where your roots will grow. Remove excess leaves, but leave a few near the top.
You can wet the tips of your cutting and dip it in rooting hormone powder (you can buy them online) to give it a bit of a boost. Plant it in a six-inch pot with sandy loam, and water. Make sure that it has enough drainage, as you wouldn’t want to keep the soil to wet to avoid rot. Place your plant in a sunny place.
If your santan leaves grow brown, take it as an indication that it’s getting too much sunlight (colloquially, “nadadarang”), so you may want to give it shade or transfer it under an awning. Give it time to settle, and make sure to water daily, especially when the soil is quite dry.
You’ll want to wait for it to create new leaves and shoots, and even blossom before you repot or transfer it direct to the soil. This way, you know that your plant can survive the change in environment. Feel free to add fertilizer, but as the santan is very much at home with loam and regular garden soil, you’ll often only need to trim it to keep it healthy and flourishing.
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