The cancellation of one flower show after another has affected sales at Bengaluru’s many nurseries.
Two spectacular shows are held annually in the sprawling Lalbagh botanical gardens, one in August to mark Independence Day and the other in January to mark Republic Day. The pandemic put paid to last year’s August show, and this year’s January show isn’t happening either.
Nurseries around Lalbagh thrive when huge crowds attend the flower shows. With their curiosity piqued, visitors walk into the nurseries to pick up plants and saplings, and some try their hand at gardening for the first time.
Balaji Nursery and Garden, located near Ashoka Pillar, usually sees good sales of carnivorous plants, such as the pitcher plant and the Venus flytrap, when people walk in.
Srinivas P V, proprietor, says after the Independence Day show was cancelled, other major events on the nursery calendar, such as the Orchid Society of Karnataka Show, the Rose Show and now the Republic Day show, met with a similar fate.
“The flower show season encourages visitors to look for local nurseries for good deals. We usually see a boost of 50 to 60 per cent in sales,” he says.
Extensive marketing through Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp groups is slowly helping it get back on track. “We are also partnering with websites like Amazon to sell plants,” he says.
Visitors to Lalbagh also visit Y Munivenkatappa and Sons Nursery, as certain varieties displayed at Lalbagh are not available for purchase, says Navya Chethan Kumar, co-proprietor. “People usually come hunting for plants like heliconia and tropical and exotic fruit plants. We see a 40 per cent increase in sales in January, but this year has been dull,” she says.
Doorstep delivery and online orders are helping to an extent. Navya says the pandemic created new gardeners.
Many people confined to their homes started growing fruits and vegetables on their terraces. Ramnarayan Nursery, Siddapura Main Road, is not stocking up in a big way, given that customer walk-ins have come down.
Bhargavraj from Sri Mallika Nursery, on the same road, says customers shop for plants mostly on weekends. “But yes, more people visit when a flower show is open,” he says.
The Nurserymen Cooperative Society, located inside Lalbagh, has been giving out low-interest loans to nurserymen. Ravi Prakash, a director, says, “We give loans of up to Rs 5 lakh, and charge only 6 per cent as interest, without any mortgage.”
Last year, when business was bad, the society also helped some nurserymen with a grant of Rs 50,000. “Things are slowly looking up,” he says.