From the popularity of the sleek online ship-to-you startup the Sill to the Instagrammable plant craze to Costco’s $20 succulent gardens, AOL reports that one-third of houseplants in the United States are sold to Millennials. (That stat came from Ian Baldwin, a business adviser for the gardening industry.)
The reason? They’re waiting longer to buy houses out of financial necessity, which often leaves them packed into smaller urban dwellings without gardens. They’re putting off marriage and delaying or forgoing children. This leaves plants as the only things they can nuture – and make them feel like adults.
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“’I found myself gravitating toward plants,’ says Tommy Engström, who is 30 and works at a marketing agency,” said in a 2018 L.A. Times article. “’Everyone made fun of me because I was sleeping on an air mattress and buying plants. But having living things to care for soothed me.’”
A 2017 Washington Post story headline said that Millennials were filling “their homes – and the void in their hearts – with houseplants.” The article went on to say that plants made great Instagram bait – filling other types of voids, like the need for attention.
Writer Jess Melia says there is “a need for us millennials to feel as if we’re caring for something other than ourselves in a time where making major life choices have to come later and later.” In a world where everything feels transient, why not take comfort in something with roots?
Welllll… there is a way to take it too far. As Joe Queenan wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2018:
“Are millennials so cunning, so diabolical that they would use houseplants as an excuse to avoid visiting their parents?
“’Absolutely,” says one West Coast millennial whose parents live in tony, twee Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. ‘As soon as I set foot in their house, my parents give me a hard time about dating a tone-deaf sitar player and not doing anything about my hair. Now that I have 135 houseplants, I have a perfect excuse not to go home. You can’t ask your friends or neighbors to stop by every three days to water 135 plants. Anyway, I don’t have any friends.’”
Surely Queenan is being satirical. Nobody would ever have 135 plants. Except… Instagram personality Summer Rayne Oakes, who keeps 700 in her New York City apartment.
Shine on, Millennials, shine on.
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