Sep 08, 2011|
HK Magazine: What is a Jungle in a Bottle?
Charlie Kayi: Jungle in a Bottle is a miniature ecosystem in containers—be they bottles or tanks. We place different kinds of plants in them, and they can pretty much sustain themselves.
HK: How does it work?
CK: We place five layers of rocks, sand and soil in the bottles. These layers distill the water, and the water won’t turn murky because of them. It is just like how underground water works… You don’t need to worry that the roots will rot because of too much water. It just acts as an ecosystem—plants can balance out the humidity by themselves.
HK: Are there any special ways to take care of the miniature bonsai?
CK: Minimal care is needed for every Jungle in a Bottle. You only need to water the plant once a week. Each time, you should give it two to four centimeters of water. The plant will grow happily if there is sufficient sunlight. But remember, air-conditioning will dry up the soil, and you need to make sure that there is enough water. The general principle is that there is sufficient water if it has covered the rock layer.
HK: How did you come up with the idea?
CK: We lived in Sai Kung for 10 years when we were kids. We love the countryside and planting, and we used to keep fish and frogs. But we later moved to an urban area. There isn’t too much space, and a balcony is almost a luxury. So we tried to simulate a natural environment in a fish tank. There were fish, waterfalls, ponds and land. It’s just like a miniature rainforest! Later, we started to experiment with smaller tanks and bottles. A friend told us that there might be business potential, and that’s how our venture started.
HK: How do you divide duties among yourselves?
CK: My brother and I make the products by ourselves. But 80 percent of the [actual] bottles are made by him, while I focus on branding and marketing.
HK: So we heard that you take custom-made orders, too?
CK: Yes, we do. In larger tanks, you can put in some animals—like crystal shrimp, fish and frogs. It’s actually landscape designing, and we can make waterfalls and simulate natural environments like jungles.
HK: What are the most difficult parts of making Jungles in a Bottle?
CK: We buy seedlings from flower markets in Mong Kok. Before
placing them in glass bottles, we have to move the soil away. It can get quite disgusting, because a lot of worms wiggle in the soil. You cannot wear gloves, because [with them] you can’t feel the roots, and you could hurt the plants.
HK: Have you come across any interesting customers?
CK: A woman in her 40s fell in love with our products and she asked us to custom-make an eco-tank for her. She said it’s good for feng shui and she found it relaxing to sit down and watch the tank. We made one for her and we placed some small frogs in the tank. However, the lady was very scared of them, and we had to remove them from the tank. But the frogs were so scared, and they hid themselves well. We spent hours waiting for them to turn up!
Order a Jungle in a Bottle from Delication—prices range from $48 to $880. Place your order at www.facebook.com/Delication, or call them at 3485-7200.