Interior designer turns guardian of carnivorous plants in lockdown
An interior designer by profession, Ernakulam Puthenvelikara native Nirmal Kumar gained attention and profit through the cultivation of carnivorous plants. During the lockdown, Nirmal spent his time nurturing his huge collection of plants and making videos in his YouTube channel Nandanam Exotics.
Nirmal already had a collection of cactus plants, orchids and anthurium. However, many of them were destroyed in the 2018 flood. With this, he started growing plants on the terrace. The masterpiece item in Nirmal's garden is different types of carnivorous plants such as Sarracenia, pitcher plant, Venus flytrap, butterworts and sundews.
As soon as he posts videos about the carnivorous plants, people start inquiring about them. Though he receives many orders, Nirmal is unable to fulfill all of it. The seeds of the plants are collected with the help of people abroad. Not many in India grow these plants. Also the difficulty in arranging the right atmosphere for growth is a challenge.
The 26-year-old started developing an interest in carnivorous plants after learning about them in science class. He has been collecting them for 7 years. The beautiful look of the carnivorous plants is their major attraction. These plants are unable to absorb nutrients from soil which is why they feed on insects, lizards and even small mice.
When nutrients are provided separately, the roots of the plants develop inflammation. Even chlorine in tap water can affect their health. Nirmal collects rain water to irrigate the plants. Though climate in Kerala is suitable for them, availability of fresh water can be a challenge.
Nirmal got the first carnivorous plants in his collection from Shimla. Then he started collecting from different places. He inherited the love for plants from his mother. Nirmal is of the opinion that carnivorous plants can offer a decent income. Apart from business intentions, he also encourages new comers to this field.
A plant can be sold about 3-4 years after sprouting. The minimum price of carnivorous plants is Rs 1000. However, there are plants worth Rs 80,000-1 lakh in the market. They are not available in India. The plants in Nirmal's collection cost between Rs 40,000- Rs 50,000.
It is hard to develop seeds and there are only a limited number of plants in the collection to meet the demand of all. People inquire about expensive varieties mostly. The delay in delivery is the only problem now. Sometimes, it takes upto 15 days to reach the address.
The carnivorous plants wither if they remain in the package for some many days. If the courier service starts functioning properly, this issue will be resolved. Cactus plants are not affected by this. They survive for months even if kept in packets for long, Nirmal said.
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