Why the 'trend' of houseplants is here to stay
Trending hobbies come and go repetitively, occasionally they’re a brief fling with something shallow and throwaway, sometimes they seem to completely take over our every discussion for months, and then in a flash are forgotten about. Animal Crossing Islands, Online Pub Quizzes, Zumba Classes, Sourdough Starters, they all come and go.
Some trends however, end up lasting decades, and several manage to become cultural staples. Houseplants as a trend aren’t anything new - people have been bringing the wild into their homes for years, and their popularity has always been present, but something over the last few years seemed to click into place, and houseplants have become a cultural phenomenon.
Many people will claim that the boom came about because of Millennials and Gen Z love of green life in their homes, but to place the boom on the under 40s is to ignore the fact that houseplants are for everyone, and the sales figures show that a whooping 62% of our online purchases are from over 50s. Plant popularity has grown across all age groups, and with the help of social media it’s become an online community where people connect through their love of Philodendron Scandens and Monstera Adansonii.
Over Lockdown we saw a huge increase in online stores providing a valuable service to people stuck in their homes (not that we’re blowing our own horn), and the industry has gone from strength to strength in 2021. And combined with the ever-growing popularity of gardening, it seems consumers can’t get their fingers green fast enough.
So why did the boom happen? And is it here to stay? Here, we ask our resident plant packer, and all-round good egg Jess about why she thinks of the current shape of the plant world.
Can the growth in popularity of houseplants be solely down to a social media boom? Do you think anything else is at play?
J: When I was younger, the only folks who tended gardens were older people looking for a quiet and relaxing hobby. I think as people have gotten older themselves (me included of course), that boring pastime seems more and more appealing, especially as the world is so fast.
Even with houseplants, the opportunity to take a step back and focus on something as simple as a snake plant for a couple of minutes is a great way to ‘wipe the day clean’. It’s a very stabilising hobby that offers simple routines, and almost weekly rewards. So yes, social media may help with people building the lifestyle, but the calming activity would be there regardless.
How much of a surge was there during lockdown? Do you think there’s a reason that the boom happened during a period of such isolation?
J: The surge in sales for us was almost instantaneous. We thought we were prepared for the year, but the demand for plants, even moss, just kept on growing and we had to grow with it. We expected a drop off as the restrictions lifted, but the demand has remained in place.
Obviously, plants have always been a big part of my life, but it wasn’t until lockdown began that I really started turning my home into a jungle. I, like many people, wanted (needed) a sense of the outside, and assembling our own became the only option. Many of my friends took the plunge and bought their first houseplants in 2020, and now they have several in their homes
And do you think the boom has been helped by Gen Z and Millennials?
J: The lockdown took away everyone’s freedom to move and go out, and of course it was hard for everyone, but if you’re young, or renting a space that doesn’t offer the openness of a garden, it took away your space. Gen Z and Millennials (speaking from experience) go out to experience things for themselves, as opposed to living under someone else’s roof, and to have that taken away was hard. So, for many, a small balcony or windowsill became a little space to grow yourself or bring the outside inside.
Social media, especially TikTok and Instagram, brought the ‘plant world’ into the current age. I know it sounds silly to say, but the online plant community took itself very seriously. Not to say it was po-faced, but all plant accounts had a very specific look - all style and interior magazine shoots.
TikTok introduced the fun element of plants to people, from how infuriating they can be, to how much money you can blow on one plant, to genuine affection. It was the boost the plant world needed, and sales obviously reflect this. It’s no longer a hobby that you do in private, and it’s much more of a community now.
Do you see the trend remaining after this boom period?
J: plants will always be around - ALWAYS. Of course, things will change, and new fashions will come along, but houseplants have established a nice spot in pop culture and cemented their place as an item that can bring homes and people together.
We haven’t even touched on the fact that they improve air or have been shown to help with mental health. I think the reason plants have hit a sweet spot is not because of marketing, or social media, or lockdowns (though all that helps), but because, finally, people have been made aware of all the positives that come with owning a little, living, green friend.