It was less than a week ago that Plants Galore’s supplier brought her hundreds of poinsettia plants imported from Holland.
“He had imported 600 plants but before we could receive them, we had to get all the paper work done in advance,” says Celia Hardy, the owner of Plants Galore, a plant centre in Nairobi's Rosslyn.
“We had to get one permit for every kind of plant that we were receiving,” she adds.
But all the effort was worth it since she got all eight varieties of poinsettias, especially for pre-Christmas sales. “I’m not sure why the poinsettia is traditionally recognised as a Christmas plant,” says Celia.
“But as that tradition got started in the West, I suspect it had to do with winters being cold and people tending to stay indoors. The poinsettias added a touch of colour and brightness to the home, so that could be why the tradition grew.”
Whatever the reason, Celia says that just as soon as her daughter put images of her poinsettias on Facebook, the plants started flying out the door at Plants Galore.
“We sold 200 in just three days so if you want to see them, you had better come right away. Our supply is almost gone!” she says, giving me a warning that I will be stuck with no story if I arrive after they’re all sold.
“One woman came in yesterday and bought 30 white poinsettias just like that,” says the owner of Plants Galore who has been a plant lover all her life. “The woman said she needed them since she is decorating her house for the holidays and her colour scheme is all white,” Celia, an award-winning gardener.
Noting how many different colours the plant’s leaves come in, Celia admits she also prefers the white poinsettias. But her clients come in and buy all eight different varieties of the plant.
“Poinsettias come in pink, red, orange, yellow and white as well as several varieties of variegated-coloured plants,” says her daughter Katy. By that, she means her mom has plants whose leaves come in red and white, red and yellow, orange and pink and other varieties as well. “We even have one plant that’s been sprinkled with glitter,” her mother adds.
“One lady came in yesterday and bought several plants. She came back again today because she decided she wanted to give poinsettias as Christmas presents,” says Celia who’s been busy all this week.
But she adds that people are not just getting poinsettias for the holidays. “We also have baby Christmas trees in pots that are also going very fast,” she says. They are already decorated and perfect items to have if you live somewhere that cannot easily accommodate a large Christmas tree.
The other plant that many people get to give as a Christmas gift is the African violet. “The ones we had are already all gone,” says Celia who received several other types of plant when her order from her importer came in.
“We have a number of collectors who keep track of what we have in stock. For instance, we just got a new Anthurium that one collector has already booked as her own,” she says. Apparently, collectors also love the African violet. They also have a fondness for the Medinilla, a rare plant that comes from Thailand, since she only has one left.
One other rare plant that collectors seem to love is a succulent called the Lithop. Celia imported two varieties of Lithop, which her knowledgeable plant-loving friend Maria says is indigenous to Southern Africa.
“I’ve seen them both in Cape Town and in Namibia,” she says, adding she has a preference for indigenous plants. “I grew up in Rumiruti where our poinsettia had grown into a giant tree,” she says, startling me because I didn’t know the plant could actually grow into a tree!
Both Maria and Celia have a chuckle over the Lithops. “One is commonly called Baby Bottoms,” says Celia pointing at the button-sized miniature succulent that has a crack down the centre of every ‘button’. “The other one is called Baby Toes,” Maria adds, pointing at the toe-like tubular cluster of mini-plant that she observes is not easy to keep alive.
“People tend to overwater their succulents, which is what the plants don’t like,” says Celia who is an authority on all kinds of plants, a vast variety of which can be found at her place in Rosslyn.