Gardening in the Desert and Where to Buy Houseplants in Muscat

I have been dying to fill my house with lush, green plants since I arrived in Muscat. Forget the fact that I have furbabies that might make that messy and dig in the soil, it’s been a goal for me to have a lush green space complete with hanging baskets, humidifiers, and what I wanted more than anything was a couple big monstera plants. I know that’s very basic, white girl instagram aesthetic but it’s 2021, we’re in another lockdown and cottagecore is my culture.

In Muscat recently, a friend of mine told me where to find an entire road of big nurseries filled with indoor and outdoor plants which is en route to Seeb souq and not far off the path to the Mall of Muscat. There are plenty of nurseries to choose from on this street but also bigger ones on side streets like Nile River Gardens and a seemingly popular place called Green Blocks.

Cultivating private gardens in our little walled compounds is unquestionably a very popular activity for local Omanis and expats, provided you’re affluent enough to do so. In my medium-sized city a few hours from Muscat, the homes with lush gardens peeping over their walls are always wealthy, always admirable in the sea of sand and chalky clay earth that surrounds our neighborhoods. The local Facebook buy and sell group Muscat downsizing quite frequently features expats doing their best to offload all their plants before they repatriate. They never have to leave their posts up for long and they never simply give away plants. Recently a trio of medium/large-sized plants was sold on the site for 45 OMR or $116 USD. Even sun-burned greenish-gray aloe vera plants, or neglected snake plants that sit sadly in dried-out pots will sell for 2 to 4 OMR per a pop, that’s $5 to $10.30.

And what are the nurseries like in Seeb? To be honest, surprisingly drab with little customer service. Many of the plants being sold did not have name tags or prices, leaving the discerning shopper to question the disinterested workers milling about who often spitball whatever price they seemed appropriate based on your, ah, determined financial status. I picked up one small asparagus fern that looked a bit neglected and asked someone nearby the price, it was 5 OMR or about $12.99USD which seemed like a lot.

Gardening is almost a necessary luxury in the desert, so no doubt I will begin collecting house plants soon, but I’ll definitely remember to bring clippings from my friend’s plants in the EU when I journey back there to cut down on costs.

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