Bloom boom: Malaysians get passionate about pot plants

A worker removing soil from a caladium plant before putting it into a bottle for shipment at a nursery in Sungai Besar, outside Kuala Lumpur. - AFP

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 (AFP): Learning to tell your elephant ears from your flamingo flowers has become the latest virus lockdown escape in Malaysia, where houseplants are very much in season.

Collectors are searching out specimens with intricate patterns in a dazzling array of reds, yellows and greens, and sharing their best on social media.

"It's like looking at a painting," collector Leiister Soon told AFP, admiring the broad-leaf caladium -- elephant ear plants -- at his Kuala Lumpur home.

"Taking care of plants meant that I can divert my attention -- (it is) better than watching the number of Covid cases going up."

The plants are known as "keladi" in the local Malay language, but the trend has grown to encompass other species, such as anthuriums -- known as flamingo flower, or laceleaf -- and alocasias, whose varieties include the silver dragon.

Once relatively cheap, prices surged last year when lockdowns confined Malaysians to their homes, and many collectors started posting images of their favourite plants on social media.

Leiister Soon adding fertiliser to an anthurium crystallinum plant in his home in Kuala Lumpur. - AFPLeiister Soon adding fertiliser to an anthurium crystallinum plant in his home in Kuala Lumpur. - AFP

While some still cost as little as 20 ringgit ($4.80), the rarest can now fetch up to 6,000 ringgit each.

Soon says he spent more than 20,000 ringgit on plants in the past year alone.

"During the lockdown, people were at home thinking about how to beautify their homes," nursery owner Daud Kasim told AFP in Sungai Besar, 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of Kuala Lumpur.

"They could look at these plants -- and their stress would go away."

An avid collector himself, Daud said he started selling keladi plants in late 2018 but demand exploded during the pandemic.

Nearly half of his nursery's inventory is now made up of such plants, with foreign varieties from countries such as Thailand, China, the United States and the Netherlands.

Standing among thousands of potted specimens, Daud said the trend was here to stay, even as authorities gradually begin lifting restrictions.

Malaysia first imposed curbs last year shortly after the start of the pandemic and had to implement restrictions again in January when a new wave hit, but the outbreak is slowing.

Health authorities have reported more than 300,000 infections and over 1,000 deaths. - AFP
Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Malayisa , People , Loving , Home Plants , New Craze


Next In Aseanplus News

Asean news headlines as at 9pm on Wednesday (Dec 7)
GE15: BN candidate Johari retains Tioman state seat
South Korea may lift indoor mask mandate in January
Bomb dropped on Myanmar monastery using drone
World Bank says Cambodia's economy recovering well in post-pandemic era
59 couples exchange marital vows in Philippine mass wedding
New global platform to enhance transparency of carbon markets rolled out in S’pore
Cambodian justice ministry responds to social media outrage in drunken driver case
Vietnam shifts gears on arms trade as it loosens ties with Russia
‘Laos will not slide into default’, PM assures National Assembly

Others Also Read