Juan Zuluaga is a Spanish teacher who is also a gardener, specializing in desert roses. He has been gardening for many years and never plans to stop.
Grafting is the type of method Zuluaga uses in order to make the desert roses different colors. When he grafts a plant, he joins plant parts of one plant to root stock of another to get tissue regeneration in order to make different color flowers.
The Spanish 2 teacher was inspired to graft desert roses because his son was studying science at a university and challenged Zuluaga to graft his own plants.
“One of the most exciting things about cultivating desert roses, it that when you do the grafting, you never know what it is going to look like when the plant finally flowers, therefore, there is always expectancy, and every day we visit our garden, we find some flower color or shape we have not seen before,” said Zuluaga.
Zuluaga and his wife enjoy going to different nurseries that specialize in desert roses, but they are always on the lookout for new color and flower types.
“Growing desert roses is not exactly a cheap hobby. The plants, the fertilizer and all the materials needed to grow them are very expensive,” Zuluaga said. But he says it is all worth it because his wife enjoys seeing the roses, and it makes Zuluaga happy to see his wife enjoying their garden.
Zuluaga came to the United States in the mid 1980’s from Colombia and eventually his girlfriend followed him, and they got married in Naples.
They soon realized that they needed to learn English if they wanted to get good jobs and live in the United States.
By around 1989, both Zuluaga and his wife were very fluent in English and moved to Canada where he got multiple degrees and became a teacher.
Now, he lives in Florida with his wife, but still visits Colombia every summer where he has another garden with very many plants as well.