Kayamkulam resident Anju Karthika’s front yard and terrace are dotted with beautiful Table Roses and ever-so-elegant Adeniums, in a variety of colours. Her love for the former, also known as Portulaca, can be traced back to when she was in high school, she says.
“When I was in class 10, I developed an interest in gardening. In particular, Table Roses fascinated me with their vast varieties and beautiful shades,” Anju tells The Better India.
“Around 2013 – 2014, I observed the arrival of very unique colour varieties of Table Roses in Kerala. Eventually, I found out that they were imported from different countries like Thailand and Brazil. I decided to collect them,” she says, adding that she would purchase these from sellers in Chennai and Pune.
Starting with just 15, Anju currently nurtures over 200 varieties of Table Roses, as well as other flowers. “I also have a huge collection of Adeniums, with over 400 varieties and shades,” she adds.
The 49-year-old notes, “It began as a hobby, but eventually, it became more than that,” while adding that she makes around Rs 20,000 per month by selling her flowers.
Named ‘Green Flora’, Anju’s garden is spread across spaces around her house situated on 10 cents of land. The terrace has also been utilised for this purpose.
“When I started collecting the plants, I wasn’t aware of the potential of social media. My friends added me to certain gardening groups, from where I learnt about several varieties of Table Roses from outside India, as well as how to source them. I contacted sellers from cities like Pune and Chennai via Facebook,” explains Anju.
Table roses are succulent flowering plants that can be grown easily with a wide range of colours and patterns. These flowers are also known as pathumani poo, which means ‘10 am flowers’ in Malayalam. They bloom at around 10 am and shrink by evening.
Apart from Table Roses, she has a huge collection of Adeniums (desert rose), another ornamental flowering plant that is a favourite among gardening enthusiasts. “After learning about them through an agriculture magazine, I started collecting their seeds. There are different species of Adenium. Currently, I have over 2,000 Adenium plants in over 400 varieties,” she says.
“These plants require minimal care and good sunlight. They bloom in summer and the flowers stay for around two to three weeks. They are capable of growing into a small trees, but their beauty is best brought out by continuous pruning. This lets the plant spread out and grow in a bushy fashion,” says Anju, who also does grafting to propagate different varieties with varied colours and patterns of flowers.
“Seeds from Adenium can be collected and propagated,” she says. “When it comes to Table Roses, cross-pollination happens on its own, and hybrids with different shades and colour combinations can be made easily. They can also be grafted if required.”
Apart from Table Roses and Adenium, Anju also grows several indoor plants like Alocasia, Philodendron, Syngonium, Begonia, Aglaonema and also Bougainvillaea.
“I mostly use organic fertilisers like cow dung powder, and also use NPK fertiliser once in a while for my plants,” she says.
“The rates of Adenium range from Rs 250 to Rs 3,000, and when it comes to Table Roses, they’re very cheap, starting at Rs 10 or Rs 20. I don’t grow them like they do in nurseries. I only sell off those plants or varieties that are in excessive numbers. But if you know how to take care of these plants and propagate varieties in huge numbers, it really is a profitable business. One can easily make Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh per month. Mine is a small scale venture,” she adds.
Anju sells her plants to people who contact her via Facebook or phone. She also sells plant stems and saplings to people over long distances via courier.
If you’re interested in ordering table roses or adenium, you can contact Anju at 9946808869.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)