With the season of gifting and mellow fruitfulness just a couple of months away, it’s time to choose the next batch of goodwill gifts. This year, with budgets being tightened—eschewing the silver and crystal—a new crop of gifts has hit the workplace. Plants.
Says Mukesh Sharma, buying plants from a Vasant Kunj nursery for his office to give away, “Plants are replacing bouquets offered to visiting dignitaries. The reason is obvious: Cut flowers last barely a couple of days. After that, they look like something even the cat wouldn’t drag in. Our MD has worked abroad, where he saw the trend, and implemented it in our office.” And often, they come cheaper than a showy bouquet.
What’s for the giving?
Says Manoj Nath, who runs Branching Out, a nursery and plant rental company in the Delhi Cantonment area, “When companies pick up gifts from us, we offer them individual plants or entire arrangements.” Indoor plants in demand include dracaena, schefflera, syngonium, dieffenbachia and pothos, often called the money plant. These are low-maintenance and don’t intimidate the owner by demanding too much time and attention. Outdoor plants include drought-tolerant, orange-blossomed hamelia and jade, ficus and Chinese oranges.
If you’d like to substitute flowering plants for a bouquet, popular choices are orchids, azaleas, gardenia, hydrangeas and roses. Among winter annuals, petunias, poinsettia and nasturtiums aren’t too fussy or frail. Some want to give herbs and medicinal plants. The tulsi, says Saini, is virtually as popular as the money plant, which symbolizes prosperity.
Presenting with panache
Most nurseries that meet bulk orders are happy to package the plants in attractive containers and will even landscape larger trays for you. Pragnya Nair of Plantex, who has recently tied up with a florist with a national presence and accepts e-orders, presents her plants in snazzy ceramic containers. Nath landscapes arrangements on request, adding bridges and gravel, to create a little desktop fairy land.
Needs some care
For all the joy that a plant can bring, the new owner needs to be prepared to give a little care in return. Some nurseries attach a little note on the plant and its basic care requirements. Nath has even had some of the recipients call him when the plant grows larger, wondering if it is time to transplant it to a bigger pot.
So, what’s the occasion?
A plant is appropriate for virtually any occasion—from birthdays and anniversaries to a greeting gift for visiting dignitaries. Or it could be a promotion, a business deal or a festival. A BPO in Noida recently placed an order with Nair for 200 plants to mark the launch of its new “green centre” office. Vikram Saini of Masjid Nursery (www.masjidnursery.com) has had orders from multinational banks and even a city court, where lawyers wanted to gift a plant to a senior.
US-based ProFlowers (www.proflowers.com) suggests a “thank you” to your administrative assistant. The idea? “Each month we’ll send a different blooming plant, from calla lilies, to gardenias, hydrangeas, daisies and more. Once you sign up, the plants are automatically delivered each month (typically on the second Wednesday of the month) so you will never forget to show your appreciation.” That should keep your assistant busy with the windowsill garden!
Perish the thought!
Not everyone is happy to receive plants. Do consider certain facts before replacing the bouquet with a bush. Is the recipient someone from out of town? “I love receiving plants, but travelling with them, even if you are driving down from one city to another, can be cumbersome,” says banker Ashok Singh. “If I’m flying, I have to give the plant away to someone at the hotel. Often, since someone from the host office is with me, this can be embarrassing.”
Some plants can also trigger off allergies! The sap of the dieffenbachia or dumb cane, for instance, is well left alone. Some ferns and chrysanthemums can also trigger off a reaction in sensitive folks. Oleander, in spite of its hardy nature and bright flowers, is also best left out of the gifting array.
The author is a journalist and writer of children’s books with a passion for gardening.