Nalin singapuri, planty town, tropical houseplants

Guest Post by Nalin Singapuri from PlantyTown

Hey ya'll, I'm Nalin, I run the PlantyTown nursery in San Antonio, Texas. I'm a frequent customer of Okanoka, having received about 20 packages so far this year. Today I wanted to show you what a typical unboxing of Okanoka's plants looks like, and walk through how to acclimate and care for your newly acquired plants.

I'm going to meander into the unboxing in just a bit but wanted to start with the ordering process.


As I write this post it's approaching the middle of April. In the last week I've received four packages from Noka, they were purchased late February through mid March. The time required to get a phytosanitary certificate, relevant customs documentation and ship an order is about a month. Having ordered from a number of Indonesian vendors, I have found this timeline to be quite typical.


Two packages from Indonesia. Okanoka uses thermal wrap whereas the larger one from didn't, the condition of the plants reflects this.

I have an import permit (the USDA makes these super easy to get so if you intend to import a lot of plants its a good idea to apply for one). However, I generally opt to ship plants in lots of 12 so that inspection is not required, it costs a bit more to ship in this manner but usually avoids subjecting the plants to a few extra days in a box.

All my packages from Okanoka have used DHL express international shipping. They arrive quite quickly - sometimes in just 3-4 days. Occasionally the packages will sit for a weekend as DHL only delivers on weekdays, so 5-7 days in flight is common as well. A handful of my packages have been flagged for customs inspection and spent as long as 17 days in transit including the inspection time. Thankfully this has been a small number (about 10% of my packages) and the plants have arrived in relatively good shape despite the delay.

The package I am unboxing in this post was shipped on a Friday and arrived the next Tuesday, it spent about five days in transit and traveled 10,009 miles to reach me.

As with all of Noka's packages, this one was securely enclosed in thermal wrap. Though San Antonio is generally quite temperate in the winter, the wrap helps a lot with transit through colder destinations such as Cleveland's customs port.


box of plants 
ready to be unwrapped and soaked
Plants are snuggly wrapped with leaves enclosed in cardboard tubes and roots inside moss packets

The first thing you will need to do is remove the thermal wrap. Next cut open the box. Take care when cutting - the leaves are wrapped in cardboard tubes but plants will be packed inside the box as if this were the tetris world finals.

plants with 
leaves unwrapped

Once you have opened the box its time to start unwrapping individual plants.

I use scissors or a box knife to remove the cardboard tube around the leaves first. If you are impatient like me, you might want to do this for all the plants in one go :).

The root ball will be enclosed in plastic wrap, paper, and sphagnum moss. I remove and discard the first two but save the moss to use with my prop boxes or inside moss poles (it needs to be boiled or otherwise disinfected before re-use). If the moss is entangling the roots try and remove it very gently - its usually a better idea to leave a small bits of moss when the alternative is potential damage to the roots.

After unboxing I soak in SUPERthrive water for about six hours, and then pot them up. I've skipped some of the details here for the sake of brevity but you can find more detailed instructions here on okanokas site. Alternatively I provide more detail on my acclimation method on the PlantyTown blog


Syngonium Aurea

These arrived in great shape and with stunning variegation. Green and white leaves, Healthy roots, strong plants which will acclimate and recover quickly. In general syngoniums ship quite well. I got four of these and have more on order as they always seem to sell out quickly for me.

aurea after unwrapping
aurea detail syngonium 
aurea potted


Colocasia Esculenta Mojito

I've only ordered a handful of Colocasias internationally, but thus far they have always arrived looking a bit beat up. These guys had some leaf decay and limpness but healthy roots. They likely will drop leaves and die back to the stem and then put out new leaves quite quickly.

Mojito leaf detailColocasia 
Esculenta Mojito


Anthurium Crystallinum

These arrived in good shape albeit a bit thirsty with dark green leaves and strong robust roots. Anthurium's take a bit of time to acclimate, I like to stick them in a high humidity environment and slowly transition them lower humidity once they start putting out new leaves.

Crystallinum Detail


Spathiphyllum Peace Lily Variegated

Highly variegated plants like these peace lilies can be a challenge to ship, but they arrived in good condition without much impact on the leaves. The specimens I got have an excellent genes, they are white enough to be interesting but not so variegated as to be a challenge to care for. Green leaves are punctuated by patches of white with a healthy white root system. They should be putting out new growth quickly.

Spathiphyllum Peace Lily Variegated Detail
Spathiphyllum Peace Lily VariegatedVariegated 
Peace Lily Potted


Aglaonema Heng Heng

I've saved my favorites for last. Aglaonemas are awesome plants - fast growers sporting an awesome color palette. There's a fantastic array of red and pink options, and often the coloration looks vaguely reminiscent of an advertisement for psychedelics. The heng heng variant is new to my collection but shipped quite well, sporting thick white roots and perfect leaves upon arrival.

Heng Heng Closeup
Heng HengAglaonema 
Heng Heng in pot



Overall, I'm thrilled with these plants, but thats pretty typical of the orders I receive from Noka. As a moderately prolific importer and vendor it makes things really easy when I can trust a supplier to send me high quality specimens every shipment. If you are hesitant about ordering plants from halfway around the world, I hope this post has inspired you to take the plunge. But if not these and many other species can be purchased in a post acclimated state.

About the Author

Nalin Singapuri

Nalin Singapuri, self appointed Mayor of PlantyTown, is an software engineer and people manager turned entrepreneur. He runs a small nursery in San Antonio, Tx. It’s currently a one and a half man operation - his five year old loves to help out.

In addition to raising plants Nalin enjoys artistic endeavors, like designing and recreating historic jewelry, pottery, drawing and painting.

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