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A Growing Wellness Trend: Inside the Minds of Millennial Plant Parents

There’s a plant store right by my house in Denver. When you walk in you’re greeted with a mossy, earthy aroma and natural light pouring in through the countless windows. Typically, there are at least four other potential plant parents looking to adopt a young green thing. Although people may come to Planted for the snake plants and jade they come back for the expertise. When asked a question about plant care owner, Luke Huss, will show you the right plant for your lifestyle like he’s introducing you to your soon-to-be best friend. Last weekend, I was casually dropping $40 (oops) in Planted when Huss and I got to talking about something that he’s long known about plants: plants make us happy and there’s plenty of science behind that statement.

This small, but rejuvenating experience is a reminder that Luke Huss of Planted isn’t the only one whose blood runs green with unadulterated love for that which grows. This scenario is representative of a larger trend, concentrated within the millennial generation. As millennials move to cities working demanding corporate jobs, looking at screens almost without pause for more than eight hours a day-- there’s a very real need to de-stress and disconnect. I’m not the only one addicted to the thrill of adopting a new plant,  according to Bloomberg the sales of houseplants have “surged almost 50 percent to $1.7 billion” in the past three years. I asked some of my particularly plant-driven coworkers why they thought plants were even more important in our screen-dominated lives and here’s what a few of my cohorts said:

  • I feel like a beaming parent when my snake plant shoots up a new baby. Also, baby plants are the most adorable thing maybe ever. My plants also remind me so much of my mom who has the greenest thumb on the earth. We bond over plants and have such fun talking about them.
  • It's a connection to the real world -- the Earth - that is otherwise lacking in a cement jungle. In summer, it also gets me to go outside first thing in the morning rather than get on my computer.
  • They've always been important. They're analog and give us the satisfaction of caring for something and watching something grow.
  • In some ways, growing plants is kind of like the Slow TV movement. You have to be patient, give them the right combination of things to be happy, and then be patient again. My sense is that many people get a calm and release from tending to their plants, not to mention the purely visual break it gives to the eyes (looking at something real instead of looking at a picture of something real on a phone/screen).
  • They bring us into the present moment. Slow us down. Teach us to pay attention .
  • Fun fact, our eyes scan environments in a fractal pattern, so natural chaos (plants mostly) are calming to our nervous system. (read Nature Fix!)

My coworkers confirmed what any plant lover already knew: Plants make us well. So how do plants really help us? Hold my spider plant, I’m about to drop some plant knowledge.

Sleep: That’s right, that snake plant you bought for decoration can help you sleep by regulating air temperatures in your bedroom. The pineapple plant can help your spouse snore less and Chinese evergreens can help clean up indoor pollutants to keep you breathing easy all night.

Stress & Anxiety: Feeling overwhelmed at work? Surround yourself with lavender, chrysanthemum, and aloe vera to feel the chill vibes.

Clean Air: First, let us address the obvious: all plants clean the air. That said, some of them are just super efficient at doing so. Knowing the air in our house is some of the dirtiest we breathe, we should be prioritizing clean air in our homes more than ever. Plants like areca palm, golden pothos, and gerbera daisies are great at cleaning up the air in our homes, and by association, great at relieving our stress. Take red-edged dracaena for instance- great at cleaning harmful chemicals like xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, all of which have been associated with “heightened stress levels, a lack of concentration and increased anxiety.”

Illness: Had a few too many last night? Chrysanthemum is often used to treat headaches among other issues like fever and high blood pressure. Plants also create more humidity in your home in a process called transpiration, which according to this study makes it difficult for viruses like the common cold or flu to survive. Basically, the more your houseplants are thriving, the less the common cold will.

We could go on, but you get it by now--plants are amazing and we should all have them in our homes. Luckily there are brands making this living wellness tool more accessible than ever by offering plant delivery services, care instructions included. Take Bloomscape for instance, they have an online store of over 30 plants, site filters for terms like “pet-friendly” and “air cleaner” and an online chat with “Plant Mom” where customers can direct their pressing plant care questions.

At The Sill, they’re not only selling beautiful plants like the very adorable Hoya Heart, but they’re selling the ability to wear your plant love on your sleeve, literally. With a whole section on their site devoted to swag, plant lovers can now adorn themselves with pins reading “My Plants Understand Me” or bring their “Plants Make People Happy” tote to the farmers market. The Sill understands the joyful state of mind that comes with cultivating something living, or as my coworker so articulately put it: plants “bring life, light, and joy.” Why not share that joy with the outside world in the form of your fashion choices?

When I started writing this piece, I asked seven of my coworkers to devote time from their busy days to fill out a survey called “Plant People Unite.” They graciously poured their hearts into the answers and when reading through their responses I felt goosebumps rise on my skin and was embarrassed to admit that there were tears in my eyes. Their responses talked about life, death, connecting with a loved one over a shared love for plants, and the therapeutic benefits of cultivating a garden. They articulated what companies like Planted, Bloomscape, The Sill, know so well: plants bring joy to our lives in a big way.

We may not always know how to keep our plants alive, but one thing’s for sure, we are dedicated to our plant family. One coworker even told me he might have to buy a new house because his fiddle leaf fig has grown too big for the one he lives in now. He was kidding, I think? This devotion to keep things alive day after day and watch something grow slowly, explains our effort to stop the runaway train of modern life even just for a moment each day. So, maybe the crazy plant people aren’t so crazy after all. Maybe we’d be crazy not to keep plants in our homes.

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For media inquiries please email fwt@room214.com

Vanessa Kahn

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