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Can you really ‘grow’ luck?
Published on: Sunday, July 14, 2019


Luck is intangible, abstract and something that everybody wants.  People can go to great lengths to get more lucky. Some are even prepared to do the unfathomable to attain their goal when, in fact, the luck they are craving for is right in their hands.

How? By working harder and smarter and literally taking a straight path without snaking around hoodwinking the naïve and innocent into parting with their hard earned cash.  The daily reports of cases of scamming and swindling are indeed mind-boggling and frightening.

There are people who are willing to do incredible things just so they can improve on their business performance, striking a jackpot, receiving some handouts, get pay rise or even getting a promotion. 

Among a host of things that some people believe can be done to boost their fortune is to be more selective in the choice of the plants grown in their garden. To a keen gardening enthusiast, it is possible to grow countless varieties of plants but none can be more prosperous than the lucky plant.  

Because the plant is known as such in the community at large, almost everyone likes to have one or more around the house irrespective of whether they are an expert or just the plain greenhorn.

 

The plants are not only your lucky ‘charms’ but also pleasant to the eyes. 
 



 

What is a lucky plant?

But what is a lucky plant?  What is there in the plant that makes it so special that nearly everyone wants to have one at home?

Well, it is believed that this has got more to do with the name than anything else.  Known commonly as the “desert rose”, the plant has a special significance in many Chinese communities around the world.  This is due to the fact that the plant is known to members of the community as ‘fu kui hua’ which means “flower of good fortune and prosperity”.

That is so much for intangible beliefs and the misty past on the one hand, and real hands-on cultivation through hard work, on the other.  Ultimately, it all boils down to personal choice in selecting and growing the plant. The main reason being that it is very tough and hardy besides being able to yield very beautiful and attractive flowers on a regular basis.

That lucky plants are year-round bloomers is very true in that there is intense blooming during the drier periods in the early months of the year but much fewer flowers during the off-peak season.  In well-cultivated plants, it is possible to have them completely covered with the gorgeous flowers but this requires good but simple horticultural skills and information.  

The large trumpet-shaped flowers are very attractive and come in a variety of colours such as pink, red, white, purple or beige, and may be tinged or edged in darker shades or hues.  Some may be double-petalled but most of them are singles especially the traditional types.

Generally, lucky plants are short, stocky and bushy herbaceous to semi-woody shrubs that can hardly reach two metres in height on their own.  It is not recommended for planting on the ground unless the possibility of water logging is low.  

Numerous oblong leathery green leaves are produced and borne on multiple branches each with the potential of carrying large flower trusses.  

Normally, the older sections of branches or stems are devoid of leaves but therein lies the possibility of new shoots generating from it.

Seed-grown plants take a much longer time to mature and produce the beautiful flowers but it is worth having a go at it as they normally produce a large and clearly visible caudex at the base of the plant.  

This makes the structure appear to be very unique and attractive. Naturally good specimens are quite expensive to come by, especially if it carries a heavy overloaded head of flowers.

 

Growing the lucky plant

Most plant enthusiasts are prepared to splurge on certain plants once they have taken a fancy to it.  But for lucky plants, the price is usually not cheap.  A one-footer may easily set one back by the equivalent of four or five chickens.  That means a kitchen could easily suffer a period without chickens which would be bad news for meat lovers.

But it is possible to make do and have the best of both worlds by cosying up to some friends or neighbours who have lucky plants.  The availability of some seeds would help but by and large, taking cuttings would be the easiest thing to do, especially if you have a few seedlings of about 1.5ft tall.  Just cut off the top half and you have a nice healthy cutting ready.

Freshly-obtained cuttings usually continue to ooze plant sap for a period of time so it is advisable to air-dry it before anything else. Some people may be too busy or impatient to wait and, as such, they may choose to immediately root it in some rooting medium. However, the incidence of material decay is much higher and it will be a sad day indeed if the cutting is of a precious top-class variety.

The other method is to use marcotts to start growing your lucky plant. Marcotts are easy to produce it you already have a pot or two of the plant. From that, it should be possible to multiply it by two to three folds within one year or so using simple gardening methods.

Rooted marcotts can be successfully harvested from the parent plant within two and a half to three months. The roots can be visible through the transparent polythene sheets that are commonly used for marcotting.   

Other materials that can also be used to do the marcotts include unwanted cloths, old handkerchiefs, face towels etc.

 

Planting containers

Among the older generation, the traditional dragon jars for salted eggs remain the favourite to cultivate lucky plants. In fact, such plants can last for generations in these pots if well taken care of.

Because such jars do not carry any drainage or aeration holes at the base, it is therefore, necessary to drill or chip several holes through it before starting with the planting. A layer of broken bricks or stones should then be placed at the bottom of the pot.

A suitable soil to fill the container should be one that is a loose, friable sandy loam.  Some organic matter including manure and compound fertiliser may be mixed into the soil before filling and planting.  

Alternatively, a genuine topsoil may also be used for the purpose but nowadays, it is difficult to trust the supplier as most of them are money-eyed to the extent there are cases where they actually send coastal alluvium taken from swamps to be delivered as black topsoil. That is awfully unethical indeed.  

For those who are in the know, using reddish or yellowish lateritic soils is one of the best options because they retain nutrients very well and are absolutely free of weed seeds and other rubbish.  

The only problem is to be able to put in the correct mix of coarse sand, manure, composted organic matter such as discarded padi husks, and so on. Such a simple mixture can grow surprisingly beautiful and healthy lucky plants.

 

A lucky plant grown in a 12” pot is able to yield such a profusion of flowers as to be spell-binding. This is rarely seen in town.
 



 

Picking the best quality lucky plants

The best quality lucky plant is the one that comes with a large, deeply-gnarled caudex at the base of the plant. The leaves should not be dull but should instead appear to be smooth and glossy. 

The stems and caudex should feel firm and hard to the touch to confirm they are not rotten in the middle. Normally sellers do not allow you to try testing the hardness by squeezing and pressing because good plants could end up being squashed and destroyed in the name of testing.

Select the ones with several mature and sturdy stems with shoots that are showing signs of producing flower buds.

 Plants with spindly stems should not be taken home unless you are able to nurture them or unless the price is really low.

 

With proper care and attention such plants can also coaxed to grow well and in the process produce such a terrific profusion of blooms to become the pride of your garden.

 





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