After spending months in the same surroundings, Malvika Khanna, a Mumbai-based FMCG professional working with a multinational firm, decided to make a change. “We do not step out much because of the pandemic and have been working from home. So, just to add some greenery to the decor I picked up some artificial plants,” she said.
Adil Seth, a Mumbai-based executive, also bought four plants for his home-office, and waters them diligently every day. But his reasons were different. “I bought them to help keep the air around me clean,” he explained.
Some prefer the plastic kind, others prefer the real deal. Some do it for their health, others to make their homes beautiful. Whatever the reason, plants have begun to magically appear in houses across India, as Covid-19 drives people stuck indoors to make positive changes.
Nurseries, e-tailers gain
Not surprisingly, most nurseries and e-commerce platforms have seen a spurt in demand for plants through the lockdown.
Apart from the usual garden varieties, people have turned to nurseries for plants that are medicinal in nature and supposed to help boost immunity. “We have sold more than 500 saplings of medicinal or immunity-boosting plants,” said Kishan Yadav, owner of a nursery located at Byculla in Mumbai.
E-tailers meanwhile have seen sales of both regular and artificial plants spike. Furniture retailers Ikea and Pepperfry, too, have witnessed a rise in demand for indoor and outdoor natural and artificial plants. Outdoor plants on the Ikea platform are priced between Rs 69 and Rs 599, while artificial plants are available from Rs 99 onwards.
“In general, there is a greater interest in planting and growing; we presume this is due to people spending more time than ever at home,” Kavitha Rao, Country Commercial Manager – India, at the IKEA Group, told Moneycontrol.
“We continue to see a demand for live plants from customers visiting the store. In addition, we are seeing a lot of interest in plant pots, stands, and growing accessories,” Rao added. She, however, refrained from revealing sales numbers.
Echoing Rao, Hussaine Kesury, Chief Category Officer, Pepperfry, said: “We saw a rise in demand for a wide range of items addressing ergonomic and aesthetic needs. Indoor or house-plants were one such item, and saw a 188 percent increase in quantities sold, compared to pre-lockdown levels.”
Some of Pepperfry’s most popular items were desk and floor plants. On Pepperfry, prices of natural plants range between Rs 400 and Rs 1,200.
Mood uppers and immunity boosters
Wellness experts believe that in addition to acting as a natural filter for toxins in the air, plants also function as an element of nature that people can engage with, without having to step outside. “Plants add warmth and beauty to interiors and can soothe our spirits as we ride out this quarantine,” said Yoga instructor Sharmistha Sharma, explaining the trend.
Apart from helping people do up their homes, indoor plants are giving them a chance, in a limited way, to try their hand at gardening. Watering the plants and nurturing them also helps in ensuring emotional and mental well-being.
Reputed for their medicinal and immunity benefits, harad, baheda, amla, arjun, morang, tejpatra, giloy, tulsi, fennel, ashwagandha and triphala are among the saplings that have been sold the most in the past few months. Of these, giloy and ashwagandha have topped the list.
“Most ayurvedic experts believe giloy and ashwagandha are useful in boosting immunity and treating the coronavirus. This has pushed up demand for giloy and ashwagandha. We must have sold around 150 saplings of both until now,” said Yadav, the nursery owner.
The ayurvedic herb giloy is said to be a powerhouse of antioxidants that neutralise free radicals and prevent inflammation. Practitioners also believe that it purifies blood, boosts immunity, flushes out toxins from the body and fights both bacteria and viruses effectively. Giloy’s anti-inflammatory properties are believed to help in tackling cough and breathing problems, respiratory issues associated with the novel coronavirus infection.Ayurveda experts believe ashwagandha boosts immunity, reduces stress, regulates the blood sugar level, and lowers cholesterol. The herb contains a natural compound called withanone (Wi-N), which the experts claim blocks the replication of the novel coronavirus.