Flowers or ferns? Indoor or outdoor? These are some of the questions that Arpana Deshpande, 23, is asking her friend on the phone as she shops at Plant Vlant, a nursery in Baner, Pune. An IT professional, who works at Hinjewadi, Deshpande is planning to gift a colleague, who has bought his first apartment, “something different”. “Bouquets are traditionally gifted, but they dry and wither. A potted plant lasts for a long time. A plant is a healthy gift idea since the world needs more greenery,” says Deshpande. “The catch is that you should know which is the right plant to gift because these are living things,” she says. After consultation with her friend on the phone, she picks a bunch of periwinkles, for Rs 30 each, and ferns for Rs 70 each, that grow well in a 2BHK balcony.
Across India, millennials and their elders are opting for plants to celebrate special occasions. Suparna Sharma from Chandigarh, who turned 50 in November, decided to celebrate “with a green twist”. Her birthday gift to herself is ‘spreading green happiness, and what better than giving plants’. “For the entire year, I will be gifting 50 plants every month to friends,” says Sharma, who is also the brain behind Garden Tokri — “a client friendly, customised green gifting solution” specialising in pots, plants, plant gift baskets and garden design. Sharma, who has already handled four eco-friendly wedding invitations, corporate gifting projects and parties, points out that people are increasingly opting for plants for gifting.
With climate change talks raging across the globe, it’s no doubt an era of ‘earth consciousness’. Registering its green thumbprint is Green House Garden Centre, run by Birinder Khullar, in Chandigarh. They wished a ‘happy green diwali’, and have been creating leafy hampers for New Year, birthdays, anniversaries, house warmings and Valentine’s Day. “Potted plants and terraniums are becoming popular,” says Karan Khullar, who manages the nursery with his mother. Moving away from the regular greens, the Khullars make it a point to experiment with a variety of plants and colours.
They will soon include succulents in their collection.
More than anything, it’s the longevity associated with the greens that make the gifts irresistible. “Hardly anyone has shaadi ki mithai these days. We wanted to break the monotony and do something novel for our son’s wedding. So, the marriage invitation was a customised basket with potted plants, along with dry fruits and potpourri. Several people appreciated it,” says Shashi Kant.
A workshop at Fabindia on terraniums got gardening enthusiast Neena Jauhar hooked to creating them and now she gifts them to friends and family. Malini Sarin Sood has converted her balcony into a green haven, and always gifts homegrown pots. “Plants are what we love,” says Malini. She hands out plants to children on her daughter’s birthday. “Catch them young, that way they will respect and love nature,” she feels. Nitika Kumar and Gurpreet Jauhar couldn’t agree more. “I was tired of the same old return gifts on birthdays. Giving plants was different, and a good way to teach children how to grow them,” says Kumar. Plants, plant kits, even bird houses, Jauhar’s idea of a wholesome gift is definitely green. “I give children a kit, with a pot, paints, potting mix and plant, and they love putting it together and taking it home. I recently got a small tree at a wedding, instead of mithai. My kids regularly get plants on birthdays and one of the teachers at school gave the students plants for recitation during a plant-themed month,” says Jauhar.
Entrepreneur and founder of Boss Ladies, Himja Rana prefers to harness eco-friendly business — she has earthen pots, kulhads, handmade bags, terracotta pots and bamboo baskets.
Anupama Raj is a passionate gardener and environmentalist. She has been creating awareness regarding the need to go green for about five years now, through talks and videos. She is associated with NGOs and plantation drives, and sells her own terraniums, which she has labeled ‘Greenariums’. Currently, she is investing her energy into making temples eco- friendly.
‘Think green, breathe clean and say yes to less air pollution’ is what Gurgaon-based greenpreneur Divya Gupta lives by. Gupta left her corporate job four years ago to make plants affordable and provide them at one’s doorstep. Her Leafy Tales is today arguably one of India’s largest plants and greens company. Interestingly, 90 per cent of its employees are women from nearby villages. “The problem is that millenials have no time to engage in gardening,” she says. She provides easy solutions, like soil-less mixtures, that require less maintenance and water. “We’ve tapped into surrounding slums and villages and train rural women to create terracotta pots. These customised designer pots and planters are potted with plants and used for gifting,” says Ekta Bansal, founder of Parijai Genus Private Limited, who grew up in a family that was into recycling, upcycling and optimum utilisation of things.
While they are a natural source of fresh and pure air, plants also enhance natural beauty in concrete jungles. Sharad Kabra, co-founder of MyBageecha.com, an online gardening store, feels that plants can be personalised and have a positive energy. “Gifting greens and enquiring about them is definitely on the rise across all age groups. A bouquet of flowers will wilt away, but not a plant,” says Kabra.