Would you grow an upside down garden?

Jan 05, 2015, 08:40 IST | Krutika Behrawala

Do you love gardening but are pressed for time and lack space to cultivate a green corner? Now, you can grow your plants inverted from the window ceiling. the guide digs up new-age, unique greens that Mumbai’s plant nurseries are stocking up on

When an 80-year-old client, extremely passionate about gardening, complained that she couldn’t kneel to water the plants because of back problems, Shaan Lalwani, the second-generation owner of Vriksha Nursery at Vile Parle (W), suggested she hang her plants upside down.

Inverted ornamental Pink Poinsettias and lemon plants at Vile Parle’s Vriksha nursery are useful, especially for those with back problems.
Inverted ornamental Pink Poinsettias and lemon plants at Vile Parle’s Vriksha nursery are useful, especially for those with back problems. Pic/Suresh KK

“We hung them in containers with lids and realised that this way, plants needed lesser water and manure, less pruning and they matured faster. In fact, tomatoes grew within 30 days instead of the usual 45-day period. Besides the heavy fruiting ones, you can grow any thick-stemmed plants upside down. Just spray water at the base of the stem,” he informs.

With a space crunch, planting a green corner at home has become a distant dream for many in Mumbai. These days, younger citizens also prefer plants that have a novelty factor or a certain usage rather than just being ornamental furniture. “We have an influx of young homemakers, students and professionals who want plants with different utilities. The Carnivorous Pitcher plants or the Citronella that keep mosquitoes at bay are in great demand,” informs Lalwani.

Shaan Lalwani with different indoor varieties of plants at his nursery. Pics/Suresh KK
Shaan Lalwani with different indoor varieties of plants at his nursery. Pics/Suresh KK

For professionals who love gardening, taking enough time out to maintain their plants is impossible due to hectic lifestyles. In such cases, indoor plants that require minimum upkeep get picked up faster than the outdoor varieties. “Tropical houseplants like Parlour Palm, Xanadu, Dieffenbachia and Schefflera require less maintenance and add to your home décor,” says Santosh Shelar, Manager at Green Grower plant nursery at Bandra (W).

The new kids on the block

Magic berries
Magic berries that alter your taste palate
One of the latest plants to arrive at Vriksha nursery is Magic Berry (Synsepalum dulcificum), imported from West Africa. While the berries are tasteless, it alters your taste palate and anything you consume post that, for a few hours, tastes sweet. This plant is used as a sugar substitute. “I know of friends who have made cheesecakes and cocktails using this fruit,” informs Lalwani.
Cost: Rs 700 (for a sapling)

Plants that need no soil
Known as Tillandsia or air plants, these plants require no watering or soil to grow. Absorbing water vapour and nutrition from air, these make for interesting wall-hanging pieces. You can even hang them at the entrance of your home.

For interesting indoors
Apart from adding to your décor, certain varieties of indoor plants act as air purifiers and some even repel insects.

Anthurium plant acts as an air purifier
Anthurium plant acts as an air purifier
Air purifiers
Opt for plants like Anthurium, Spathiphyllum (commonly known as Peace Lilies), Dracaenas, Maranta, Devil’s Palm and Xanadu that purify the air by 80 to 90 percent.

Insect repellents Euphorbia Tirucalli, the Rue plant and Citronella Geranium
Insect repellents
Citronella Geranium and Pitcher plants repel mosquitoes, Euphorbia Tirucalli keeps the rats at bay and the Rue plant (Ruta graveolens) help you get rid of lizards and bed bugs.

Minis in mint boxes!
Next time, you have mints, don’t throw away the Altoid box. Recycle and use it to grow plants instead.

Miniature succulents in mint boxes
What to grow?
If you’re a tea lover, you can grow lemongrass, spearmint, apple mint, peppermint, chamomile, pennyroyal and galangal that can add flavour to your tea. You can also grow miniature succulents in these boxes. Water them once in four days.

Get an herb tray at home
Herb baskets are convenient as you can grow six to eight varieties in a single pot.  

A herb basket with eight varieties
What to grow?
Pick from edible varieties like parsley, thyme, marjoram, mint, sage and tarragon, depending on your usage. Perch the basket on your kitchen window sill. Water it once a day and make sure not to pick all the herbs in the plant at once.
Cost: From Rs 1,200 to Rs 3,300 (depending on the herbs you choose)

For the new-age plant lover

Made from durable and hardwearing fabric with a water-tight base, this works best for small and medium-sized pots.

Self-watering planter
Self-watering planter Fill up the bottom compartment of the planter with water once a week. The thermometer bob indicates the level of water left.
Available at: Vriksha Nursery
Cost: Rs 1,200

Tips to maintain indoor plants

>> Indoor plants require minimum two-three hours of light. Early morning or late evening sunlight, or at least a good amount of reflected light from a nearby window, is optimum for indoor plants.

 Depending on placement, water them every alternate day. However, this is not a rule of thumb and may depend on your plant varieties.

 Clean plants thoroughly using water spray three times a week.

 Add a solid fertiliser once a month and liquid fertiliser once a week.

 Prune the plants regularly.
(Inputs by Green Grower nursery)

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