CHENNAI: Located in an apartment in Mandavelli, Ramkumar M Krishnan’s house resembles a mini garden. As we step inside, we spot aralias, croton varieties, jade, aglomina, snake plants, water lilies, sefaira, tulsi, peace lily, lucky bamboo, cacti varieties, and pots of aloe vera. Ramkumar has always liked gardening but never had the time to pursue it as a hobby. It was only in 2011 that he decided to take it up. He started researching on ornamental plants, bonsais and other miniature plants.
Today, he grows Fukien tea bonsai tree, miniature bonsais like ficus benjamina, jade plant, henna plant, flowering plants like the rangoon creeper, shanku pushpam, bougainvillea, water lilies, gundu malli, yellow jasmine, and bodhi. He uses a green net to protect them from the heat.
Water seepage is a usual problem in terrace gardening. “I pick up discarded tiles, get a hole drilled in the middle, get pieces of glass cut and glue it around the tile using silicone glue and sealants — similar to a fish tank. I place this flat planter on a raised platform. This way, water droplets drip, fall on the floor and evaporate. This apartment is 12 years old, but this problem has never occurred,” says Ramkumar. For a growth planter, the size of the glass is three inches, for a presentation planter, it is six inches.
Ramkumar believes that apart from growing plants, the aesthetics is also important. He has placed his planters along the walls of the terrace ensuring it doesn’t occupy the entire space and has cut glass bottles, old pipes and replaced them as planters.
He uses ceramic mugs and small containers as planters to make it presentable. “It is cheaper than clay pots,” he says. The tiniest plant in his house is a type of dead bamboo which grows inside a washing machine detergent cup.While he waters the plants himself, he uses the services of a gardener for trimming, de-weeding and changing the soil once in six months or a year.
Ramkumar recommends different home remedies for pest control. Diluting neem oil and soap into spraying solution; making a paste out of garlic, green chilly and ginger, straining the residue and diluting in water and spraying it are some. “It is important to grow plants that do not require too much of chemical fertilisers and pest control solutions,” he says.