Houseplants are surprisingly not on the long list of things millennials seem to have "killed," at least not according to several recently published trend pieces that feature young people who've turned their apartments into Instagrammable #urbanjungles.
There are facts behind this verdant madness, too. The 2016 National Gardening Report found that 5 million out of the 6 million Americans who had taken up gardening that year fell into the 18-to-34-year-old demographic. And 37% of millennials grow herbs and plants indoors, as opposed to 28% of baby boomers.
"They're not particularly expensive, and it's another way to have something to look after," Annie Dornan-Smith, a 22-year-old who lives in London and said she probably has close to 50 plants, told The Washington Post. Dornan-Smith has published a book called House Jungle, an illustrated guide to caring for your Instagrammable houseplants.
And yes, the "Instagrammable" part is key. It's the monstera, fiddle-leaf, and, of course, succulent varieties — including cacti and aloe vera — that enjoy popularity among millennial indoor gardeners; they are prettier and, in many cases, harder to kill.
Maybe the trend stems from a desire to be more at one with nature and get back to our roots, like the rustic-wedding trend of the early 2010s. Or maybe, it's the desire to grow something of our own, at a time when many of us can't afford homes thanks to the financial crisis and are increasingly opting out of having kids.
"[A] leading theory is that plants make us feel like grown-ups," Jazmine Hughes writes in an essay about her houseplant, named Michelle Obama, for The New York Times Magazine. "When the traditional signs of adulthood — marriage, homeownership, children — are delayed or otherwise out of reach, it's comforting to come home to something that depends on you."
Tovah Martin, a horticulturalist and author who has written several books about houseplants including The Indestructible Houseplant, explained to The Washington Post that enthusiasm for greenery is a trend that cycles in and out. "One of the first waves of houseplants was after the Industrial Revolution," she said, when people started moving to cities and wanted to establish a sense of "rootedness."
"It’s very cyclical," she said. "I think the current cycle has a lot to do with people hunkering down. A houseplant is therapeutic. It gives you something to nurture."