BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO
Franz Palisoc is an architecture graduate from the University of Santo Tomas College of Architecture. During the pandemic, he decided to play a role in the family business which is involved in the plant trade business.
Rona’s Garden was established back in 1970 by Palisoc’s grandfather, Rene, and his wife, Monette. Equipped with the knowledge and experience from running Bulacan Garden Corporation, they started a small gardening stall in Farmer’s Market, Cubao.
“They decided to name the garden after their firstborn, my mom, Rona. With hard work, perseverance, passion, and love for building relationships with people, they were able to successfully grow the business,” Palisoc said.
Palisoc took over the management of the online presence of Rona’s Garden before gardening became a popular trend. So when the gardening trend emerged and people’s questions about plants poured in, he had to give the answers that they needed. But since he still wasn’t familiar with plants, he had to relay their customers’ concerns to his grandmother, aunt, and their gardeners.
But he later realized that he has to take things into his own hands if he wants to get a better handle on their family’s affairs.
“I knew then that to be able to sell plants, I needed to know the fundamentals of growing and multiplying them. Since then, my love for plants has grown and so has my collection,” Palisoc said.
He started from a “hard-to-kill” air plant to plants like anthurium splendidum, anthurium cutucuense, and philodendron furcatum. Within a year, his eagerness to learn and grow plants has propelled his knowledge and experience quicker than he expected.
Enjoying the process
Now that Palisoc has a plant collection of his own, he offers some tips to those who want to start one too.
“As a collector myself, my most important tip is to take it slow and enjoy the whole growing process. While it is easy to get swept away by the eagerness to have it all, we must remember that there are actually thousands of varieties of plants and one can never truly have them all,” he said.
He added that gardeners and plant collectors should find what they like, whether it be aroids, ferns, colorful plants, flowering plants, ornamentals, hybrids, or others. What’s important is to get the plants that they love, rather than listening to what society or social media dictates.
“Take the whole journey one step at a time, or maybe more like one plant at a time, so you can enjoy each plant first before bombarding your collection with so many new and rare plants that you tend to forget them quicker than you could appreciate them growing with you,” he said.
Maintaining a rare plant collection
Aside from managing the online presence of Rona’s Garden Inc., Palisoc is also responsible for adding more rare plants to the family business’s catalog. He also cares for some in his collection, which is why he advises aspiring collectors of rare plants to always be knowledgeable about the plant and how it is cared for.
“These plants are determined ‘rare’ for a reason: they are not mass-cultivated or cultured in big numbers and as ornamental decorations,” he said.
He added that it’s important to know a plant and how to grow it rather than knowing a plant for its name or popularity.
Rare plants sometimes take time to adjust and root slower than ordinary houseplants. Some also have special requirements like humidity, shade, airflow, and proper potting medium, which is why gardeners and collectors need to get as much information on the plant as they can.
“The most important is to be prepared for these plants and to acknowledge that like us, they are not ‘just’ plants, but are as alive as humans, dogs, cats, fishes, birds, and any other organism. They respond to new environments and require proper care, as any living thing does,” Palisoc said.
Plants, no matter how rare, are living things like humans and animals. Even though they make for a good hobby and are beautiful, they too need to be treated well to survive. And one way that gardeners or plant collectors like Palisoc can do that is by getting as much knowledge as they can about the plants they’re caring for.
For more information, visit Rona’s Garden Inc. on Facebook.
Photos courtesy of Rona’s Garden Inc.