10 KAUMANA REDS: From P350 to P350,000 In 8 Years

Anthuriums in a garden show in Los Baños.
The Atlanta Anthurium, a newer variety than the Kaumana Red.

We remember Swenny, the wife of a legal officer in UP Los Baños, whom we interviewed in the early 1990s. We really admired her self-discipline in pursuing a self-imposed rule so that she was able to make an initial P350 investment grow into P350,000 in eight years.

Here’s how. When the couple arrived in Los Baños, they were given a spacious house to occupy near the College of Forestry.

One day, the husband might have noticed that his wife was rather getting bored doing nothing. So he gave her P350 to buy some plants which she can grow in their backyard.

Together with some friends, Swenny chose to buy anthurium seedlings. At that time, the Kaumana Red from Hawaii was the only variety that was available in the Philippines. The late Dr. Benito Vergara was selling his propagations at P35 apiece.

Swenny used the P350 given by her husband to buy 10 medium-size plants. From the very start, she told herself to propagate her plants but never to sell any propagation for as long as there was space for growing in their backyard. She only sold the flowers.

Swenny did the gardening by herself. She did not have a gardener to help her. Propagation is usually done by topcutting. After getting the topcut, which is repotted, the stump with two to three leaves will usually produce two or more suckers. That’s how anthuriums are multiplied. Swenny did not spend much in growing her propagations. Clay pots were very cheap then and coconut husk for potting medium was free from a friend. If she needed some money to buy pots and fertilizer, she only had to get some from her marketing budget.

And so with her self-discipline not to sell any of her propagations for as long as there was space in their backyard, she was able to accumulate more than 6,000 plants of various ages when we interviewed her eight years from the day she bought her initial 10 pots of Kaumana Red.

The two of us calculated the value of her plants using the prevailing prices at that time. We concluded that her anthuriums were easily worth P350,000.

Photo from the Internet

Incidentally, her friends who bought their own Kaumana Red at the same time were not able to build up their stocks. That’s because, they sold their propagations usually at P25 apiece as soon as the suckers got established. (Zac B. Sarian, Memoirs of an Agri Journalist)

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