Gardening: The boom in houseplants is more than a fad

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Do you consider yourself a plant parent?

It used to be that we just grew houseplants because we liked plants. Some of us were a bit more fanatical about it, and we knew that if a room had a window, it had to have a plant. A few of us had culinary aspirations, and we grew herbs on a windowsill over the winter. For us, houseplants have always been a thing, but for many people, 2020 was the beginning of a new journey. But even before the pandemic, growing plants indoors and out was becoming a trend again.

Stoneside Blinds and Shades recently authorized a survey of plant purchasers. The retailer has a lot more details on its website, but I will cover a few highlights here. The average respondent started buying plants three years ago, but 12% purchased their first plants in 2020.

When purchasing the plants, 45% bought plants because of their appearance; 36% bought them because the plants would produce food; and only 19% bought plants based on the environmental conditions the plants needed to grow.

The 81% of people who did not consider the plants’ needs when purchasing the plant may be disappointed when the plant doesn’t grow very well. Not knowing the conditions that will make a plant thrive is possibly why 67% of millennials say taking care of a plant is harder than they thought it would be.

On average, the respondents spent $124.50 on plants after the lockdowns began in March. People who spent more than $200 on plants were much more likely to have had a fight over the cost of the plant purchases.

More than half of the gardeners talk to their plants, and 43% have named their plants. (The researchers didn’t ask if the plants talked back or if they liked the names they were given.) People who talked to their plants at least sometimes were 3-1/2 times more likely to say gardening had decreased their stress levels over the past few months.

The National Gardening Bureau and the National Gardening Association also did surveys of gardeners last year, and they found several trends. Tropical houseplants, vegetable gardening and attracting birds and butterflies will remain hot trends for the foreseeable future.

In addition, many gardeners are starting to grow fruits. Two-thirds of gardeners are growing or planning on growing edible plants. In the Stoneside survey, people growing fruits were most likely to say gardening has greatly decreased their stress levels over the past few months.

Another new trend indoors and out is growing tiny or dwarf plants. Many people have limited garden space and limited shelf space indoors. Growing smaller plants allows the gardener to have more different kinds. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, watermelons, pumpkins and carrots all have dwarf varieties. These smaller vegetables can be grown in containers on decks and patios, giving more gardeners a chance to grow vegetables.

Indoors, there are dozens of small plant species that grow very well in teacup-sized containers. The soon-to-be published book titled “Tiny Plants” by Leslie Halleck is the perfect resource for plant parents who need more plants but don’t have a lot of room.

Email questions to Jeff Rugg at

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