When Manju Hari’s husband lost his job at the sawmill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the family’s chances of survival became slim. But a beacon of hope came in the form of her tiny home garden where she grows a collection of moss roses. By selling these roses, the homemaker has been able to earn enough to take care of her family amid the pandemic.
“In a way, I’m grateful for the lockdown, because it showed me the right path to earning an income while staying at home,” Manju, who is from Pathanamthitta, tells The Better India.
In her nursery, the 38-year-old has over a 100 varieties of moss rose, including Cinderella, Jumbo, and Table Rose.
Before the lockdown, Manju had collected moss rose seeds from a friend in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Within 10 days, the rose germinated and bloomed. Over time, she began growing new seeds using artificial pollination of different varieties of plants in her garden. “There are different methods to grow moss roses, including growing the seeds and by cutting stems. I use the latter, as it’s easier,” she says.
Ten o’ clock flower
Manju usually cuts around 10 cm off the top of the plant’s stem. She then puts it in a jar with enough water to cover the bottom of the stem. Within days, the roots sprout, and the stem can then be moved to a growing tray. Moss roses, also known as portulaca, come in an array of colours like orange, yellow, cream white, and red.
The vibrant colours of Manju’s moss rose garden attracted neighbours and relatives alike, and they began buying the plant from her. “I sell the stems for Rs 5 each, and have been doing so since the beginning. I’ve never felt the need to increase the price – whatever I receive now is more than I expected. In a year, I’ve sold moss rose stems worth over Rs 1 lakh. I earn an average of Rs 10,000 a month,” she says.
Manju says she receives orders from all over India, including Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi.
In Malayalam, moss ross is known as pathumani poovu (which means ten o’ clock flower), as the plant blooms at 10 am. The plant can be grown in a small flower pot, in bowls, and even in open areas. It doesn’t require too much space, and only grows up to 8 inches and spreads across 2 feet.
Things to remember
Manju says the only thing to keep in mind before planting moss roses is to make sure the growing tray is ready. Garden soil, cow dung powder and coconut husk should be added to the tray. She waters the plants twice a day. “These moss roses only require a small amount of water. Some days, I water them only once,” she says.
Like other plants, moss roses can also be infected by fungal diseases. Once fungus is seen in the soil, the plant should be removed immediately, else the fungus will spread to other plants. It can be treated by applying organic pesticides like green wood neem oil and neem leaves.
“I always make sure I tell my consumers all the details they should know before purchasing moss roses. I also advise them to not panic if they see fungus in their plants, because it’s natural,” she says. Once she receives orders, the plants are packed and couriered immediately.
Manju says watching her plants bloom every morning not only brings a smile to her face, but also eases her stress and brings her peace of mind. To share and spread this feeling, she’s encouraging other plant lovers to buy moss roses as well.
If you’re interested in ordering a moss rose plant, you can contact Manju at 9562003503.
Edited by Divya Sethu