Green is the new black 

ByProma Chakraborty

Jun 26, 2020

The pandemic has led people to explore life beyond their jobs and households and many are exploring the pleasures of gardening. Surprisingly, millennials are the amongst enthusiasts of this new trend 

The need to stay indoors during the pandemic has led to a rekindling of old hobbies and even discovering new passions – social media stands proof to that. From baking, writing, to all sorts of DIY trends, one thing the country has taken to, irrespective of age, is gardening.

Proud plant parents are ever eager to share photos of their greens and add more to their collections. Take note, this isn’t just for that Instagram-worthy shot. In fact, there is an increasing interest in growing one’s own food. Herbs and vegetable plants have more takers than indoor plants.

What stands out is that an increasing number of millennials – mostly first-time gardeners –  between the ages of 25-40 are taking to gardening. There has been a significant change as compared to times prior to this when the average age to take up gardening was 35.

Due to the lockdown, there has also been a shift in purchasing patterns as customers are browsing online instead of heading for the nearest nursery.

“Not many people are coming to the nursery, and are preferring home deliveries. We connect them through video calls, send them actual plant images and discuss care kits over the phone itself,” says Sanya Ahuja of Greenish, one of the prominent nurseries in the city.

While they already had an online presence, the engagement has seen a significant increase compared to the pre-Covid era. Quite naturally, they are actively making the most use of social media as well.

Ahuja has also observed a shift in interest towards herbal and kitchen gardening, as it’s easy to make a garden in a small setup. Greenish offers a wide range of herbal and medicinal plants and culinary herbs like basil and oregano whose sales have shot up. “However, sales of gifting plants have decreased since people are not meeting each other, there are no events and no corporate gifting. The ones who used to take gifting plants from us have also shifted to kitchen gardens, flowering ones and bonsai,” adds Ahuja.

Jayati Sarkar has resorted to gardening during lockdown

Medicinal plants like giloy, ashwagandha and tulsi have also seen a spike in takers and according to Ahuja, there has been a tremendous increase in their sales.

Agreeing with Ahuja, Annu Grover, founder of Nurturing Green adds that the sales of herbs and kitchen plants has seen substantial growth even more than ornamental and indoor plants.

Based in Noida, this nursery offers buyers a plethora of choices online. Their website has recorded 6-7 times more engagements compared to before. However, their stores across malls have taken a serious hit. Sales via portals like Milk Basket have also shot up.

E-commerce giant Snapdeal has also observed a doubling of their sales of gardening products from mid-March when compared with that of last year. A look at Google trends shows a substantial spike in searches of gardening-related queries, not just in India but across the world.

Coming to the queries received by Nurturing Green, the majority are from first-time gardeners. The most commonly asked question is: How to grow food. To answer this, they started a blog ‘Seeds of Life’ where they give lessons right from growing potatoes and tomatoes to herbs and leafy greens at home in your balconies and terraces.

Their YouTube channel and blog has witnessed a huge growth rate in terms of viewing. “In times of the pandemic, a lot of people are naturally asking about immunity and self-sufficiency. How to bring Nature indoors is also a hot topic,” says Grover.

Another interesting aspect which they addressed when a lot of queries came in, was how to cope with stress using gardening.

“Surprisingly, most of our audience are millennials. According to our data and study, over 80% of this audience is between the ages of 25 and 48, which is a change from earlier.”

Grover attributes it to the growing stress in millennials that is enticing people towards becoming pet parents or plant parents. “It’s well known that nature is a healer. This trend is specifically visible in the metro cities as compared to Tier II-III cities.”

A millennial in the city shares that she finds it to be very therapeutic. “In this whole period of lockdown with extremely limited things to do, I resorted to gardening. Initially, it was out of boredom but later it became like a full-time job for me. Gardening teaches you compassion and love in its own ways. It is a different experience altogether,” says Jayati Sarkar.

There are several others like Nursery Live, Ugaoo who are making the most use of Instagram and Facebook to reach out to their increasing number of followers. They are slowly changing the way plants are being purchased, bringing them just a click away.

(Cover: Environment-controlled polyhouses at Nurturing Green)