Insight: Why more people are becoming plant parents

Houseplants have quickly become a new obsession or form of therapy as the pandemic continues

I have bought 16 houseplants in less than three months. My three roommates and I have a combined total of more than 80 plants in our apartment that we moved into in August. How did this happen to us?

Just for the record, it was never supposed to end up like this. When I was holed up in my parents' house during the height of my Yellow Wallpaper quarantine phase, one of the things that kept me sane was planning out exactly what my room in my future apartment would look like. I knew that I wanted a few houseplants here and there, but definitely no more than five or six.

I never expected the number to make it into the teens.

But as I bought more and more, I realized the aesthetic quality they lent to my room wasn't the biggest reason for wanting them anymore. I loved taking care of them. I gave them all names. I loved learning about the specific needs of each one, how much and how often they should be watered, and learning the personalities of all of them (my Zebra plant, in particular, is quite dramatic.) 

Watching them grow, watering them, giving them what they needed all made me really happy. Waking up every morning and checking on my boys became very meditative, and the routine of it all helped break up the monotony of online classes.

And I’m definitely not the only one going through a houseplant phase. 

Nicolas Gonzalez, an employee at Pueblo (Phoenix’s "Final Destination" for all things horticultural) said after being closed for half of March and all of April, Pueblo was able to make up all its lost revenue after just one month being reopened.

“We had a lot of support right after we opened just because people had been in their house for like a month and a half and hadn’t gone anywhere," he said. "And then we were open again, so people were trying to get out and only (go) out to get stuff to enjoy at home."

But Gonzalez wasn’t surprised at the increase in sales. 

“Plants are an escape from the human world,” he said. “Anything to get you in touch with non-human life I think has been super valuable for people during all this, when human life is kind of crazy.”

And especially in the light of the pandemic, plants are starting to take on a new meaning for the people who buy them.

“People are coming in here for a birthday present for themselves, or if a loved one passes away they come in to get a plant to memorialize that person,” said Jasmine Pigott, another employee at Pueblo.

It's more than just a plant, Gonzalez said. It's a new perspective and relationship with something that is alive.

“People are looking to it for another form of self-care,” Pigott said. “Just seeing that you’re able to take care of something other than yourself is really cool.” 

So if yoga, bullet journaling, or home brewing kombucha just aren't scratching that pandemic boredom itch anymore, I can safely recommend picking up a new plant friend to keep you company. I doubt it'll be your last.


Reach the reporter at ndevor@asu.edu and follow @nick_devor on Twitter.

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