Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Plant Parenting 2020

A woman's hand touching a potted plant.Photo by Lauren Fersti on Unsplash.
In my last blog, I talked about what’s trendy in gardening this year. My subject today is not just “in” for 2020, it’s been building for several years, but this year it’s come into full flower. I’m talking about houseplants, or more specifically –plant parenting. This relatively new term reflects that collecting plants is all the rage with young adults. While anyone with a love for plants and/or nature can appreciate this popular movement, the driving forces behind it are complex, compelling, and (like so many other things) heightened in this year of the pandemic.

A man with a dark beard hugging a potted plant and laughing with his head thrown backPhoto by Jason Edwards on Unsplash..Close up of two pots with small plants. One pot has the word grow on it.When I was first reading about this subject, I was somewhat taken aback by the term “plant parenting”. Not only had I never heard of it, but it seemed a bit childish. However, I quickly came to realize that it has more of a whiff of sadness than immaturity. The fact is that young adults nowadays are putting off having children and just not wanting them is only a tiny bit of why. Staggering student debt, archaic and discriminatory employment practices, and lack of affordable housing conspire to keep people from starting families and pursuing the mythical American dream. So, some are putting their nurturing and latent farming instincts into their plant babies. Plants can also be a first step towards the responsibility of pet ownership. If you aren’t ready to take care of a plant, you may not be ready to care for an animal. One more advantage to plants: you can make any parenting mistakes (up to and including killing them) without consequences, except perhaps a little guilt. While this may sound cold, it can be reassuring to the anxious and inexperienced.

Pictures, knickknacks and plants on little shelves.Apartments and other small-space quarters were once considered to be stepping stones to homes or, at least more spacious digs. Now that this is no longer a given, people are staying in these small places longer and making them as cozy as possible. This where plants come in. With plants, you generally do not need to worry about getting permission from or upsetting a landlord or paying additional deposits. They will not bark all day while you’re at work or pee wherever they want. This does not mean, of course, that you should turn your bathroom into a grow room – that could cause problems with more than the landlord. Here are some tips from a plant lover who has created an enviable oasis in an NYC apartment.
A plant-filled white room with a built-in white ladder going up to a loft.
The rise of plant parenting may be based on serious social and economic realities, but it is fueled by social media – especially Instagram. This brand of social media is visually driven and inundated with beautifully staged images. A person may see an Instagram model and aspire to look that good one day, but for most of us, it is not ever going to happen. However, when one sees an inviting space full of lush houseplants, it can seem realistically attainable. And so the obsession begins. If you find yourself on the verge of jumping into plant parenting, here are some things to consider before you leap. And remember, ARBICO has help for houseplants, should you need it.

A woman seated on a yellow bench-type seat at a table surrounded by plants.For many people, the health advantages of houseplants may not be top of mind when it comes to picking plants; but for millennials (who have been called the “wellness generation”), it’s part of the draw. Plants can improve air quality, reduce allergens, provide aromatherapy, produce medicine, and have innumerable mental health benefits (more on all they can do from WebMd here). Growing a plant that can directly benefit you is an easy step to getting self-care under control and that is not lost on many eager plant parents out there.

As the houseplant-loving community has grown, it has developed its own social media celebrities and favored bloggers like the Urban Jungle Bloggers. This blog calls itself “A Global Tribe of Plant Lovers” and embraces houseplants as/with design. They offer visually interesting and timely insights that appeal to hipsters all over the world. In April, they launched a challenge called “Stay Home with Plants” that addressed the lockdowns affecting everyone. It’s interesting to read about now, and is still relevant three months on. You can find it easily on their site.

A group of people milling around hanging plants and plants on tables.In addition to social media influencers, more traditional communities of plant parents have appeared. Devotees can make actual human connections with like-minded people at a plant swap or a talk at a nursery. National conventions like the Tropical Plant International Expo have found a whole new and highly enthusiastic group of visitors with these young plant aficionados. I’ll bet they have changed the experience of convention-going for traditional attendees. All these events are an excellent avenue for someone to get out and make friends, and they are less sticky alternatives to online dating or meet-ups.

A room with large windows jammed pack with plants.All of this may seem positive; but, just as with real parenting, there can be dark corners hidden from public scrutiny. Those with compulsive tendencies may find themselves over-buying and over-paying. Sometimes the act of acquiring is more fulfilling than the actual caring for the plant. This can cause an endless circle of buying as purchases die from neglect and new ones are bought to replace them. There are also instances where chasing the latest and most popular “it” plant has led to financial and emotional ruin. If you find yourself broke and you can barely make your way through the foliage in your apartment, you may have a problem.
A sign with the words Plants Not Pants surrounded by small potted plants.Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash.
Like everything else in 2020, this plant parenting thing has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. But not in a bad way. Sure, there are no plant swap meets or flower shows, but the community has been enriched with more eager and active members in lockdown. And nurseries, for the most part, have remained open. So it’s been easy enough for many to slip out and pick up a new baby, take it home, and hit Instagram to share it. Others are just staying home and nurturing their plants as they grow and change. And sharing that. After all, in a social media world, it is all about sharing and social media is wide open even when it seems the world is shut down.

A man in a sleeveless undershirt and suspenders is holding a yellow spray bottle and spraying his houseplants.

Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on succulents (which are also experiencing renewed popularity) and unique houseplants.

Submitted by Pam

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