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Why Are We So Obsessed With Plants, Anyway?

We're getting to the root of it.

Photographed by Anna Powell Teeter.

It was the tweet heard around the world — or, at least, on my feed. "The millennial version of 2.5 kids and a picket fence is six houseplants and no roommate,"@tinygorgon wrote, which garnered over 181,000 likes and 35,000 retweets. 

Nowadays, greenery is a lot more than a room's obligatory "something living." It's an obsession. People — especially millennials —are purchasing them in droves, rocking punny plant merch, and eagerly 'gramming their fiddle leaves and anthurium arrangements as if they're their children.

While greens were never necessarily out of trend, they're now one of the most sought-after décor accessories around. In fact, The Los Angeles Times reported the sale of flowers, seeds, and potted plants has increased since 2016. 

But somewhere between endlessly scrolling through #PlantParent on social media (it's okay, we've all been there) to adding another rubber tree to our e-cart (again, it happens), you've probably stopped to wonder why you need so 

So, in honor of Plant Month, we wanted to get to the bottom of everyone's burning question: Why are we so obsessed?

Why Are We So Obsessed With Plants, Anyway?
Photographed by Ana Kamin.

Double Tap On Design

Be honest: How many times did you set aside work to cruise through Instagram today? Five times? Maybe 15? Hey, we're not judging.

Millennials — and quite frankly, anyone who lives in the 21st century — typically have a lower attention span and high interest in social media, which could be the secret sauce for the rise of greenery.

"Millennials are an incredibly visual generation with a very short attention span," says Alexandra Sourbis, a fashion publicist who recently co-founded a female-focused florist company called Stemme Fatale. "These two characteristics go hand in hand with flowers, which are there primarily for your visual pleasure, all the while having a short lifespan."

Erin Marino, The Sill's director of brand marketing, seconds the clickbait cause, adding that the ever-growing presence of greens on social media is only fueling the fascination.

"We're seeing all these beautiful aspirational spaces being shared on Instagram and Pinterest, and the majority of these have greenery in them," Marino explains. "Maybe the featured couch is out of their budget, but the snake plant isn’t."

She adds that once curious plant novices bring some leafy greens into their space, they realize how nice it is to reconnect with nature and care for something.

An Alternative To Adulting

Why Are We So Obsessed With Plants, Anyway?
Photographed by Maria Del Rio.

Of course, plants are so much more than likes and followers. For many, leafy greens are conducive to their metropolitan lifestyles.

"Millennials are finding themselves in urban environments due to more career opportunities, and these urban environments lack the greenery that they might have had at home," Marino says. "They’re craving some foliage!"

Another explanation? Plants are giving people the opportunity to live in a grown-up space without, you know, actually growing up. It's no secret that millennials are less likely to put a down payment and waiting longer to start a family, so could greens be the alternative? 

"Perhaps millennials are replacing these two steps that, for our parents happened in their mid-to-late 20s with something that’s way less pressure, such as plant rearing," suggests Jessica Rose, a fashion events manager and co-founder of Stemme Fatale. After all, there's a reason foliage fanatics are called plant parents. 

Streamlined Shopping

Want to add a plant to your place? The good news is it's easier than ever before.

You no longer have to nervously walk into a nursery, ask a clerk a slew of questions, and settle on a plant you think will work in your space. Thanks to a handful of e-commerce companies like The Sill and Bloomscape, finding the plant of your dreams is a scroll and click away.

Why Are We So Obsessed With Plants, Anyway?
Photographed by Caroline Sharpnack.

"I think the buying online is both a convenience and gifting thing," Marino says.

Founded in 2012 by Eliza Blank, The Sill was born out of the desire to own houseplants but having no idea where to start. Since then, it has grown to become a destination for rookies and full-fledged plant parents alike.

Though The Sill makes it easy for people to purchase some greens from the comfort of their couch, Marino insists brick-and-mortar locations are still important.

"They enjoy seeing the plants in-person, being able to touch the foliage, stage them with different color planters, and ask care questions," she says. 

Whether or not there's a location in your town, the company aims to demystify the plant-buying experience once and for all. "Our goal is really to have our online experience mirror our in-store experience," Marino explains.

"A majority of the things we implement on our website are directly based off customer feedback because we totally understand it can be daunting to buy online," she says. "We want to make sure future plant parents feel confident when they arrive."

A Masterclass In Self-Care

Looking good and grown-up are only two pieces of the plant puzzle. Greens not make your home look more serene, but they can also help you feel calmer. A recent study found young adults with indoor houseplants had reduced psychological and physiological stress, suppressed autonomic nervous system activity, and lower diastolic blood pressure. 

Translation? Having plants is a suitable way to lower stress and up your self-care game. And when you spend an entire day staring at your computer screen, isn't it nice to look up at a beautiful, blooming tree?

"Biophobia is definitely becoming more relevant as we speed our days surrounded by technology rather than nature," Marino says. "We spend the majority of our time indoors looking at a screen. Incorporating plants into our lives not only help us reconnect with the natural world, but also benefit our overall health and wellbeing."

Why Are We So Obsessed With Plants, Anyway?
Photographed by Anna Powell Teeter.

Will We Ever Stop Obsessing Over Plants?

So plants are officially a thing — and for good reason. The only question that remains is if craze is going to die down anytime soon. The consensus? Not a chance.

"The types of plants we buy will change," Sourbis says. "It really depends on how you approach filling your home." Like the color of the year or any other design trend, the "it" green is bound to change; however, the plant-parenting phenomenon has some serious staying power.

"Major staying power," Marino says. "In fact, it may even increase over time."

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