It’s bloom time for gardening startups as more and more people grow their own

What started out as a ‘lockdown hobby’ has now turned into a full-fledged passion for many. As a result, several gardening startups have emerged in the last two years to cater to this growing segment of customers. Established players too have witnessed healthy growth since 2020.
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Meghna Suri, a resident of Powai in Mumbai, proudly calls herself a ‘plant parent’. She began growing herbs and microgreens at home during the lockdown, and soon her garden grew. As basil, mint and spinach began to flourish in her balcony, Meghna, a marketing professional, discovered her hitherto hidden love for plants.

Meghna is not alone. She is one of the many people across Indian cities who turned gardening enthusiasts during the lockdown, despite the space constraint in urban homes.

Until the pandemic, gardening was a pursuit restricted to serious, long-time plant lovers. However, during the lockdown, several people, including the uninitiated, took to gardening as a way to beat boredom. What started out as a ‘lockdown hobby’ has now turned into a full-fledged passion for many.

Besides adding a touch of green around them, people are also making a conscious effort to grow their own food in their terrace or balcony.

This trend has spurred the growth of established players in the home gardening space and has also led to the spawning of several new startups, such as Lazy Gardener, Seed2Plant, Bombay Greens, and Gardengram.

Booming sector

“We started out during the pandemic as more people took to gardening as a hobby. We have seen more than 2X growth since we started,” says Tanvi Agarwal, Co-founder, Bombay Greens.

Bombay Greens, launched by Tanvi and her husband Ankur, offers DIY gardening kits, eco-friendly grow kits, potting mixes, and planters.

According to Siddhant Bhalinge, Founder and CEO, ugaoo.com, a Pune-based home gardening startup, in the last two years, more than 52 startups have been launched in the gardening space.

The home gardening industry, which is growing at a CAGR of 50%, is estimated to reach $4 billion by 2025. 

Siddhant says, “We have seen a 125% growth YoY for the last two years because of the growth of this segment. We expect this growth to stabilise at 75-80% over time.”

Ugaoo, which was founded in 2015, sells over 3,000 plants every day and nearly one lakh plants every month. The company is eyeing a revenue of Rs 40 crore this fiscal.

Growing categories

The key product categories for many gardening startups are indoor plants, seeds, pots, planters, soil, and manure. Indoor plants such as money plant, lucky bamboo, air purifier plants, and succulents are especially seeing good demand from customers.

“A large part of our customer base is millennials who want easy-to-maintain or low-maintenance plants,” says Nandu Singh, Co-founder and CEO, Nurserylive, a Pune-based home gardening startup founded in 2014. The startup's bundled offerings or plant packs are seeing many buyers, according to Nandu. "Users registered on our website have been doubling every year and we have four million registered users at present."

Consumers are also increasingly looking at plants as gifting options. Delhi-based Ferns N Petals is eyeing a larger share of the ‘green gifting’ market.

“We sell Rs 2 crore to Rs 3 crore worth of plants every month and these are primarily plants that people buy for gifting. We also feel that the segment of plants for self-use will grow exponentially in the next few years,” says Vikaas Gutgutia, Founder and Managing Director, Ferns N Petals. The company is toying with the idea of setting up curated plant stores to offer decorative plants like bonsais and indoor plants.

Ferns N Petals has 275 outlets pan India and is eyeing a revenue of Rs 550 crore to Rs 600 crore this financial year.

Apart from products, gardening startups are also working on building their service offering.

Ugaoo offers garden maintenance services to corporates, while Nurserylive provides services for terrace gardens, balcony gardens, and vertical gardens too. Ferns N Petals is also looking to offer balcony and terrace gardening services at a fixed cost per square feet.

As many of these startups are online-first players, a chunk of their business comes from online channels.

“About 80-85% of our business comes from online channels. We are looking to expand our offline presence too,” says Siddhant of Ugaoo. The company has two stores in Pune and one in Mumbai and is exploring opportunities to expand to Delhi, Bangalore, and Kolkata.

Wooing investors

The gardening segment has attracted funding and investments in the recent past. Nurserylive raised seed funding in July 2019 and is in talks with investors for another round of funding. Ugaoo raised Rs 15 crore from DSG Consumer Partners and RPG Ventures in November last year, while Ferns N Petals raised $26 million in March 2022 from Lighthouse Funds.

As the tribe of plant enthusiasts expands and existing gardens get denser, the gardening sector is poised for healthy growth.

Meanwhile, buoyed by her thriving garden, Meghna has set her sights on growing more organic vegetables, especially cherry tomatoes.

Edited by Swetha Kannan

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