Story and photos by Yvette Tan

The Philippine Plant Festival is a much-anticipated event, with horticulture experts, enthusiasts, industry practitioners, and the like gathering together for 11 days of talks, lectures, competitions, a bazaar, and of course, the admiration of different types of flora.

Various plants on display at the 2019 Plant Festival.

The Festival aims to encourage people to go try their hand at plant cultivation. Numerous studies have shown that being around plants can help lower stress levels. The rise of social media has also fueled the return of houseplants, especially ones that look good in photos.

Ornamental plants aren’t just nice to look at—they can be moneymakers as well. Taiwan, for example, earns about US$37 Billion from orchids alone. Given the Philippines’ large biodiversity, this means there’s a huge untapped market for ornamentals for local sale—particularly for hotels and condominiums—as well as for export.

“In this year’s show, we offer new varieties, new hybrids,” says Boyet Ganigan, Secretary of the Philippine Horticultural Society. “Andidito ang supplier ng fertilizer, ng pots, ng mga plants, ng mga technologies. We also offer education kasi we have a series of lectures for small to big farmers. We offer technical support to those who are planning to have businesses in horticulture or even orchard. We have like 150 commercial booth of different kinds of plants of different services of different garden materials.”

The Festival also featured plant competitions, the newest of which is the upcycling category. “Our purpose for this is to recycle materials so that we save the earth. Actually, anything can be a good container. It depends on the creativity of the person,” says Amy Lastimosa, Treasurer of the Philippine Horticultural Society and President of the Cactus and Succulent Society of the Philippines.

They chose cactus and succulents for said category because of its compact size and its hardiness. “They can be indoors,” Lastimosa says. “It’s a trend right now. It comes in different shapes and colors and sizes. It’s portable and because of the downsizing of homes right now, it’s the perfect plant for small homes.”

The Philippine Plant Festival is presented in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center, the Philippine Horticultural Society, Philippine Bonsai Society, Cactus and Succulent Society of the Philippines, Los Baños Horticultural Society, Pangasinan Horticultural and Landscape Society, Philippine Episcia Growers Society, Fern and Aroid Study Group, Philodendron Philippines, Philippine Bromeliad Society, Hello Haworthia, Tillandsia Philippines, Agave Philippines, and Chili Heads Philippines.

The Philippine Plant Festival runs from Jan 25 to Feb 5 at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife.