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Hanoian creates indoor paludaria forest

By Phan Duong   May 13, 2021 | 06:28 pm PT
Tran Loi’s apartment 'forest' comprises a collection of houseplants worth VND1.5 billion ($64,700), with three paludaria consisting of both water and land features.

"I am a plant lover, I have collected them because I love them, not because of their price," Loi, Hanoi-based graphic design lecturer, 38, told VnExpress.

In his apartment, located on the 18th floor of a building in Hanoi’s Ha Dong District, Loi has set up three paludaria, including plants like Monstera Deliciosa Variegata Halfmoon, a Swiss cheese plant that produces less chlorophyll, and the holy grail Philodendron Opiritus Sancti.

Loi (L) and a paludarium that has hundreds of houseplants. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong.

Loi (L) and a paludarium containing hundreds of hosuseplants. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong.

The paludaria also contains other cheaper houseplants like Hydrocotyle Sibthorpioides, a small plant native to southeastern Asia, and Paphiopedilum Orchids, etc.

Loi developed a houseplant obsession three years ago, when he set up his office in his apartment and bought some plants for decoration.

Step by step, he spent millions of dong on his new hobby.

"Anyone can collect houseplants as long as they love them," Loi said, adding he sometimes buys new plants with a group of enthusiasts to get a better price.

Early 2020, his apartment was filled with hundreds of pots.

The most difficult thing is to take care of them on hot summer days. Sometimes, when he returned home after work, the plants had withered, making Loi anxious.

Many rare plants had died, including the pricey Monstera White, which had previously cost him $1,000.

"Variegated plants are weak, but I put a lot of nutrition into the pots, the environment is tough, so they died," he recalled.

After many "emergency cases," he had the idea of setting up a paludaria, a type of vivarium that incorporates both terrestrial and aquatic elements.

After four months, he finished his first paludarium, 4.5 meters long, 1.5 meters high, and 0.6 meters deep.

He later created a second paludarium, with auto lighting and humidifier systems that can water the plants automatically eight times per day.

Since then, many houseplant-enthusiasts have been impressed by Loi’s paludaria and come to his place to observe his methods.

"Loi is a famous face in the houseplant-enthusiast community in Hanoi. At first, I though he was cold because he did not show his enthusiasm while talking. But since we found out we share the same love for houseplants, he has talked a lot about his hobby," said Dang Duy Khanh, 31, owner of a garden in Hanoi’s Thuong Tin District.

Loi and his anthurium veitchii, an epiphytic species of flowering plant in the genus Anthuriumnative to Colombia. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong.

Loi and his Anthurium Veitchii, an epiphytic species of flowering plant in the genus Anthurium native to Colombia. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong.

Like many other people in his community, Khanh learned about Loi after spending much time convincing a garden owner in Ha Dong to sell him a Variegated Monstera.

Loi later visited the garden when the plant had its leaves burned amid scorching summer days.

"I am sure the plant will grow with green leaves," Loi promised the garden owner, who finally agreed to sell him the monstera for VND1.5 million.

The plant then grew better and became one of Loi’s favorites.

Since becoming a houseplant enthusiast, he has met a lot of people sharing a love for greenery. Many plants in his house are priceless because they were given by friends and cannot be found in the market.

The houseplant-enthusiast community in Vietnam has attracted thousands of followers in just a few years, with many boasting collections valued at billions of dong (VND1 billion = $43,340).

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