Delhi: A plant for a plant could make the whole world green. That was the motto of three Delhi women who recently hosted the city's first 'plant swap' to encourage indoor gardening and a greener lifestyle.
The event, held at the serene and green Lodhi Garden, was meant to provide a platform for plat lovers to come together, share gardening tricks and tips as well as swap plants. Not just plant parents, anybody was welcome. With a footfall of nearly 50 people, the organisers of the event, Yashika Bisht and Aditi were pleased.
"We live such smoke and dust filled lives within the four walls of our concrete homes. The rate at which we are losing forests and wildernesses is alarming. How will our future generations survive?" Yashika Bisht, an HR professional and a proud plant parent, tells News18.
Next year, they plan on expanding the initiative with bigger promotions and tie-ups with other stakeholders active in the indoor-gardening community.
(Platfluencers Aditi and Yashika at Delhi's first 'Plant Swap')
Yashika and Aditi are among a new crop of plant influencers (or plantfluencers) whose work have received a fillip, thanks to social media platforms such as Instagram. And with the millennial obsession with making indoor spaces distinct coupled with humanity's eternal pining for the outside, plantfluencers have become a major and highly profitable industry.
A budding influencer in the plant community, Yashika says that the trend was not one that would die out any time soon. "Delhi's AQI has driven people to wear masks and buy expensive air purifiers," Yashika says. "What many don't get is that plants automatically cleanse the air and are super cheap and low maintenance". Yashika, who started seriously making plantgram videos and posts a couple of years ago, feels that worsening air quality and lack of open and green spaces have pushed millennials to seek greenery from the only place they know - social media.
Many come to Yashika's account to find out how she tends to her own fifty plus plants, their maintenance and care, what plants to put in their house and where. "Last year as the AQI spiked, I got many requests from followers asking me what plants they can get to reduce air pollution. People are really interested," Yashika says.
Gardening for 'soul'
Aditi, who runs an Instagram plantfluencer account called 'The Greenish Affair', feels that home gardening is a rage today because people finally seem to be realising it is the need of the hour. "People are trying to do their bit and home gardening is a simple step towards a better environment I feel. Also the influence of social media, decor trends also contribute to the fact that people are 'plants obsessed'.
It isn't just home decor or the environment, though. Gardening, Aditi says, helps the soul. After being diagnosed with Post-Partum Depression (PPD) afterthe birth of her child, the 30-year-old plant lover always had a tough time finding constructive ways to express herself. But once she decided to give her rusty old balcony a makeover, the affair with home gardening began.
"My plants grew from a total of five to 50 in no time. Indoor gardening can be really addictive," Aditi adds.
Minting the greens
And the data corroborates. While there have been no conclusive studies of the growth in plant sales in India, a report in The Economic Times puts the size of the plant industry at an estimated Rs 100 crore. The growing popularity of plants, especially among millenials, can also be gauged from the number of online nurseries that have come up in the last fiver years. From Ugaao to NurseryLive, from MyBageecha to Nurturing Greens, online plant shops are a big rage today.
Traditional offline nurseries that have existed for years before the advent of social media, also registered an uptick in sale of indoor plants like sake park and Chinese Banyans, thanks to their role as air purifiers.
There is also a growing online community of plant lovers and enthusiasts who take great pride in their plant collections and are full of new ideas and gardening hacks. There are over three million posts hashtagged '#PlantsOfInstagram' on Instagram and 'Plantmom' and 'plantdad' have long been part of the internet lexicon. It was through the online community itself that the Aditi and Yashika met. While both of them have thousands of followers on Instagram, the idea of the "plant swap" event was to further establish their position and presence as serious plantfluencers as well as invite not just millenials and youth but people from all ages and walks of life.
"It was a unique event, I have never seen anything like this before," Delhi University professor Dr Asha Gauri Shankar, one of the many attendees of the event, tells News18. The event saw plant parents come with their little potted "babies" to Lodhi. "It was lovely. People were not just exchanging plants but also giving some of them away for free," she says.