CHENNAI: Rambo, Liliput, Scrooge – these are names not of terriers or hounds, but of a cactus, a kalanchoe and a money plant. Sure, plants don’t bark in delight when you return home, but for many, they offer just the kind of companionship they need.
NEW PETS FOR A NEW GEN
Take the case of Noor, a young coder, who gifted her work-from-home boyfriend a succulent, which they named Mr Jarbee. She thought it would keep him company on those long, lonesome work days. A pup would have been too distracting. It wasn’t long before she started getting updates from him about having lunch with Mr Jarbee. For many young adults just beginning to explore life on their own, having conventional pets can mean too much commitment. You can miss watering your plants but not your dog’s walk for a single day. Plants could be better options for those millennials who do not want to lead a ‘settled’ life. Ragini, a 31-year-old NRI, who isn’t sure which city will be her next halt, chose plants as pets because when she leaves, her friends could adopt them, while she could carry their grafts and regrow them, something impossible with a furry pet.
KIDS BEFORE KIDS
For some couples, raising plants is becoming a dipstick test to check if they are ready for more serious parenting. Sucharita and Mahesh deferred having kids after they realised their plant babies were spending more time with their watchman, with their long hours and travelling jobs. Plants gave them a taste of being responsible for a living being, saving them many a possible regret later.
WHEN IT STARTS TO FEEL REAL
Not everyone buys readily into this trend, especially those of us used to the slobbering wet kisses of our canine friends. It takes a shift in perspective to experience plants as gratifying pets too. For Meenal, a content editor, that shift happened when she noticed how her Pothos grew towards sunlight, making it more than just green decor. Once you start noticing signs of intelligence, you may even start seeing their ‘character’. Janvi, a chip designer, describes her Mint as ‘flamboyant’, spreading wildly, and her Basil as ‘the quiet one that needs occasional cheering’. Plants respond, just subtly, and once you learn to see that, they become companions for life.
All plants make great company, but some are easier to relate to as pets. Succulents and cacti, because of their tiny sizes and distinct character, are undoubtedly cute. Fast growing plants, such as Basil and Spider Plant, seem more ‘alive’. ‘Expressive’ plants, like Impatiens, that droop when they are thirsty, and come back to life almost instantly after watering, can give the same sense of gratification as a cat rubbing itself against your feet after a good meal. (The author is co-founder of greenopia.co)