India: With ornamental plants becoming all the rage, lotus collections bloom

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 become all the 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.

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