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11th Nov 2021

Millennials are all obsessed with house plants now, obviously

A house is not a home without a house plant.

House plants have always been a top tier purchase for most people who enjoy a pleasant amount of feng shui in their homes.

Such foliage has traditionally brought life and colour to even the dullest of abodes, but if the past few years of Insta-scrolling and influencer-content has shown us anything, it’s that us young folk are taking the love of the humble house plant to new heights.

Plant moms, TikTok tips, and naming your first pot akin to your first born – younger generations have emerged as the unlikely champions of herbage. But just what is it about plants that us millennials are so obsessed with?

Writing for Growing Together, Don Kinzler says that millennials are largely delaying traditional milestones like having babies, getting married, and buying homes (because we can’t afford do) and instead are turning to plants for a sense of connection that is otherwise not available.

“Plants usually require less immediate attention than other living things, such as pets,” he writes. “In fact, plants are becoming substitutes, at least temporarily, for both pets and kids. Houseplants don’t die or soil the rug if you’re gone for several days.”

What’s more is that plants are, within reason, allowed in any rental properties. Landlords have long been determining what can and can’t be brought into their generously overpriced (and generally under maintained) houses. No pets, no wall fixtures, and certainly smoking. But plants? Sure, everyone can have a plant.

But according to Don, there’s something else that’s encouraging millennials’ deep-rooted love of all things green – the fact that we can learn how to care for them appropriately without ever leaving our homes.

Care tips, hashtags, and apps that can determine what disease your plant has in a few seconds – looking after your own green-leafed friend has never been easier. And naturally, neither has showing it off to the world.

On Instagram alone, there are (at the time of writing) over 17.6 million posts tagged with the word ‘plant.’ There are 12.5 million using ‘plants of Instagram’ and 2.9 million with ‘plant mom.’

The numbers are understandably not so staggering amongst the Her audience, but still, a measurable amount of users have admitted to owning a house plant, with many more stating that lockdown only fuelled their love of all things green.

While some stated that they simply enjoyed the feeling of looking after a living thing, the vast majority of users spoke of a similar desire – to bring life and colour to their homes.

And while house plants may be dominating social media, their very existence almost negates the fast-paced, always-on nature of the online sphere. Plant advice may be instant, but the growth of the plant itself is not.

Author and self-proclaimed ‘plantfluencer’ Alice Vincent tells BBC Culture that as millennials and Gen Z-ers have largely grown up in a world dominated by social media, tending to plants has become a way to slow down.

“With gardening, nothing is instant,” she says. “Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing can be tapped on a phone. It is a slow, physical and patience-testing activity – all of which I personally find hugely relaxing when the rest of my life is so rapidly paced.”

Natural beauty, signs of life, and a touch of the outside indoors; house plants have, for many, become more than simply a decorative piece.

Where previous generations were once promised homes, cars, and adequately paid jobs from a young age, many millennials – and those who come after us – have been dealt a different hand; one mired by too much choice, a lack of affordable anything, and the countless mistakes made by those who came before us.

But thankfully, it’s not all bad – we’ve found a way to adapt. Where our parents had a plethora of children, mortgages at 25, and an unwavering sense of purpose, we’ve got something even more important and considerably lower maintenance – house plants. And thank god for them.