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Updated: Apr 23, 2023

The lovely Masako Sakurai is the owner of Masako Art and Flowers, a beautiful houseplant shop based inside Manchester’s trendy Stretford Food Hall, where you can enjoy excellent coffee and a bite to eat from delicious local food stalls (there are different ones every month) whilst being enveloped in a true urban jungle. Masako is also my friend and neighbour in Manchester and has been a wonderful supporter of Pow Pots since its launch in 2018. We caught up about all things plants!

Masako Sakurai
Masako Sakurai
Stretford Food Hall manchester
Stretford Food Hall

How did you start working with plants Masako?

I was a nurse in Tokyo and studied Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement), then became officially qualified in it. After meeting my husband and moving to Manchester I began painting at Phoenix Gallery in Castlefield and opened my first shop there in 2009. I began specialising in plants a few years later and moved to Stretford Foodhall in 2019.

What is your favourite houseplant?

The Calathea family. These plants have lovely patterns on their leaves, and are very reactive to light. As ‘prayer plants’, many of them raise their leaves at night and open them during the day which is fascinating to watch. This possibly stems back to their natural habitat in the rainforest where they lower their leaves in the day to absorb moisture and lift them at night so the water can trickle to the plant stem rather than evaporating. Very clever!

Calathea Triostar
Calathea Triostar

What are your top three tips for caring for houseplants?

1. Right plant in the right place. If a plant is looking unhappy try moving it to a spot with more or less sunshine and moisture.

2. Judicious watering. Read labels and get advice from your plant shop, and follow it!

3. Regular dusting. Plants can get dusty very quickly and this stops them from absorbing light to stay healthy.

What's the best part about your job?

Looking after my customers and giving good follow-up advice.

Hardest part about your job?

Maintaining the hundreds of the plants at my shops!

Favourite Pow Pot?

I’m a fan of the Piña Colada and also like the Gin & Tonic design.

modern plant pots
Piña Colada and Gin & Tonic Scandi Pow Pots

Which plants are trending?

The Strelitzia nicolai (aka Bird of Paradise), which has a beautifully wide structure and looks great in any living room. I have a massive one in the shop, it's now over three and half metres tall! Loads of people are interested in it, I just need to find a van big enough to deliver it in.

Strelitzia nicolai, Bird of Paradise
Strelitzia nicolai

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