The trials and tribulations of the big city can really get to us sometimes. With urbanisation on the rise and people being packed into ever smaller boxes by stinky landlords a trend has been brewing to combat this malaise. You may have recognised the greening of your Instagram pages over the past year or so but millennials have opened their doors to nature. Populating their corridors with Zamioculcas, bathrooms with Boston ferns and bedrooms with Bonzai.
Last year the Royal Horticultural Society put on its first Urban Garden show over the summer, showing visitors how to populate the urban space they occupy with build your own Terrarium workshops and talks about the healing properties of gardens in urban environments. IKEA, also latching onto the trend, did an exhibition called ‘At Home with Plants’, which has really given credence to the bubbling trend ‘with small-space living not everyone has access to an outdoor space’. So bringing the outside inside is the current mode of thinking, invert the garden.
Reflecting this wider trend are Patch - the online plant emporium and delivery service. They have come into being as they realised that people are held back by their lack of knowledge of plants and where to get them. Patch is great in that it has simplified the process by highlighting which plants go where in the home, delivering it to your home and removing the scary latin name and replacing it with something slightly friendlier - like Rick or Phil. Picquart highly recommends them as the process, they allow you to freshen your home and make it instacool from just a few clicks on your computer, get involved: https://patch.garden
Aesthetically they are great, but many plants also have a function in the home. Picquart’s in-house horticulturalist Phoebe Stothert was on hand to help. She has been raving about the Ceropegia house plant, also called string of hearts, which is a flowing vine decorated by small waxy leaves. Whats great about Ceropegia is if it grows long enough they can be used as curtains, by propping it on a shelf and trailing it along a curtain rail. Phoebe says two other plants that come in handy are the Peace Lily and the Spider Plant. These plants are great for flats with mould issues or which suffer from damp. This herbage purifies the space, combating damp by drawing out the moisture from the air.
Why this rise? There are the obvious benefits of having a houseplant. The proven effects indoor fauna have on wellbeing, health and productivity - how they can reduce stress and improve concentration by oxygenating the air. The way these Insta stars have portrayed how greenery can transform an inside space has also really pushed the trend. However theories go deeper than this. Some commentators believe that millennials have been buying plants as they want something to nurture. This may be because they can’t afford to have children and so they find solace with their green friends. Like children plants offer stability in someones life, something to care for and to nurture. A bit wack perhaps but I can see the thought process.
Plants may not be a substitute for children but more something for us to ‘re-connect’ with the real world. The recent US gardening report said that of the 6 million new gardeners 5 million were aged between 18-34. Tending to foliage offers young people something tangible that we can care for and grow that are detached from our daily lives plugged in to the screen. Plants offer a bit more in that you form a relationship with it, through your care and attentiveness you see something blossom from seedling to sapling. Mintel’s recent trend report they noted how we have elevated the value of tangible items in an increasingly digitised world, look at the resurgence of vinyl and the film camera, we like stuff.
I don’t have a specific theory of the origins of the houseplant popularity, like many trends they snowball and it can be difficult to work out its origins. However what I think is really great is that the houseplant trend has changed the way people are looking at and interact with ecology. From something that has always been there - to something that people care about and want to nurture. In doing so I hope more young people have become conscious of their natural surroundings. Something that is needed, once you are more conscious of something you are more aware of the impact you have on it and you will reconsider further interactions. Hopefully, this will make people re-consider the impact their lifestyles have on the ecology as a whole, to recycle or to ride their bike to work.