With ornamental plants turning a rage, lotus collections bloom

Updated - October 09, 2022 08:11 pm IST

Published - October 09, 2022 08:07 pm IST - KOCHI

Praveena Prajeesh and her children in the lotus garden.

Praveena Prajeesh and her children in the lotus garden.

Lotus and water lily are no longer simple aquarium plants that were used mostly for temple rituals. Growing the plants have turned into an obsession for several people like Praveena Prajeesh (Kalavappilli) of Neerkode in Alangad panchayat, who have also leveraged their hobby to make a little money in their spare time.

Ms. Prajeesh has a collection of 44 varieties of lotus flowers, including the near-legendary 1,000-petalled lotus (sahasradalam) that is believed to be the seat of goddess Saraswati. As a devout person, it is important to her that the sahasradalam is part of the collection despite the plant having flowered only once in the last two years. The difficulties in its upkeep apart, the flowering of a sahasradalam involved a bit of luck too, she said.

“Ornamental plants have turned a rage over the last five years,” said an Agriculture department official. More people are now interested in lotus and the large varieties of water lilies both for their exoticism as well as the freshness they bring to an ornamental plant collection.

The official said people were at present able to create artificial waterbodies even in broken buckets and other utensils to grow plants. The broken buckets contrasted sharply with the verdant paddies and lakes that once helped the aquatic plants form colonies, flowering in their thousands, only succeeding to draw the attention of honey bees and butterflies besides the few who came looking for them for some ceremony or the other, he said.

Ms. Prajeesh said she started the hobby two years ago after buying a packet of lotus seeds online. However, the plants that sprouted did not grow to flower. This prompted her to buy tubers of the plants. The experiment clicked and the lotus garden slowly began to unfold.

The Agriculture department official said lotus sprouts from seeds, runners or roots, and tubers. Seeds are considered the safest, he said, pointing out that they had a long life. It has been reported that well-preserved lotus seeds were recovered from a dry lake in China. That collection of seeds dated back more than a thousand years, he said.

Lotus flowers were in great demand always, though in small numbers, says Ms. Prajeesh. The less exotic varieties fetch between ₹10 and ₹100 during the lean season. There is great demand for planting materials like tubers, runners and seeds. When a sahasradalam plant was sprouted and set, it could cost up to ₹2,800 apiece, she said. The tubers of the variety cost about ₹500 apiece.

Ms. Prajeesh’s lotus collection includes varieties like Miracle, Kaveri, Lakshmi, Tammo, Prospectus, Red and Yellow Peony, Green Apple and Ameri Camelia.

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