He year 2018 was full of green shoots in the Indian gardening market — from an unforeseen rise in the demand for succulents, to green-themed weddings, and large corporates choosing to gift plants on their signature occasions. The winds of change that began to blow this year are likely to gather momentum in the next. Here’s a look at what trends look promising in 2019.
NASA CLEAN AIR STUDY
One of the most notable phenomena this year was regular people becoming aware of the landmark NASA Clean Air study, which identified common houseplants that purify air-toxins found in urban buildings. With that, houseplants got an image makeover — from humble bystanders to serious pollution warriors. Why a study conducted in 1989 should find enthusiastic audience three decades later could be due to the fact that for the first time Indian cities are witnessing air pollution at a tangible scale, with looming smog no longer the stuff of science fiction.
The initial enthusiasm for air-purifying plants was followed by questions regarding their efficacy.
The industry may respond to that with more reliable solutions, for example bio-air-purifiers — clusters of specialised plants, bio material, and ventilation equipment to enhance their efficacy.
The year 2018 was also a year of flamboyant green walls. The early adopters, predictably, were big builders, hotels and corporates. Next year is likely to witness modified versions, adapted for home environments, like leaner green panels or stylised wall-planters. Vertical green solutions are unlikely to go out of fashion, not because of the shrinking urban real estate, but because of the statement they make.
On the home gardening front, this year saw a sprouting of various ready-to-grow kits on e-commerce sites. This is because shopping online for gardening is predominantly a millennial behaviour, who are likely to be unschooled in what soil, seeds or fertilisers to use. Building on this opportunity, sellers can be expected to mete out better designed kits, especially hydroponic kits, which seem to have tickled the millennial imagination but are only available either as expensive imports or jugaad solutions.
Succulents and airplants are here to stay, as plants designed for modern living — low maintenance and strikingly beautiful. No longer enchanted by the same old houseplants, Instagram-inspired customers are looking for a new lookbook of plants. As a result, 2019 may see a trending of unusual hybrids and exotic plants, like dramatically striped Prayer Plants, colour-splashing Pink Princess Philodendrons and heart-shaped Hoyas.
THE NEW EXPERTS
The growing interest of a new generation of customers not ‘naturals’ at plants is likely to spur the demand for a new breed of professionals who understand plants, design and are willing to offer support in ways that resonate with them. 2019 will indeed be a happy new year if we see a denser crop of these new experts.
(The author is co-founder of greenopia.co)