Today’s existential question: Are millennials going insane with their houseplant obsession?
According to a Washington Post headline this month, “millennials are filling their homes — and the void in their hearts — with houseplants.”
The paper reported a rising trend in millennials turning their apartments into “house jungles,” or “urban rain forests,” or “jungalows” by decorating (and perhaps psychotically over-decorating) their residences with houseplants. One peach-shorts-wearing guy in Baltimore nurtures 180 indoor plants in his one-bedroom apartment.
I just celebrated the marriage of a dear friend (age 27) who has roughly 60 plants in the apartment she shares with her husband, though she did clarify that 10-12 plants (pardon me, “water babies”) live in water vases so they can be propagated for gifts.
In my own townhome, my boyfriend and I have 13 plants presently surviving (and thriving — sort of), including Norman the Norfolk Pine, Monty the Money Tree, Planty the Long-Surving-Vine-Thing, and — Oh. God. Are we insane?
Theories behind this plant-hoarding trend highlighted in WaPo range from the need to nurture something, to the need to find a sense of (quite literally) rootedness, to the search for something therapeutic, to the desire for an Instagram-worthy backdrop.
I like houseplants because they’re pretty and I’m practicing for a dog.
Kindred general manager Blake Pope’s Instagram account heavily features his burgeoning house forest of more than 45 houseplants.
“I’m a huge design nerd,” he said. “Interior, graphic, photography, all that stuff. When I was younger I really got into mid-century modern design and with that came these beautiful and fun tropical indoor plants.
“My mentor, Katy Kindred, inspired me as well during the process of styling Kindred in Davidson. We’ve got some amazing plants folded into the design at Kindred. My grandmother, Ada, was also a greenthumb. She had the most beautfiul garden. She would spend most of her days in the garden when I was growing up.”
Sentimentality, a little bit of nerdy-ness. Not insanity.
Pope, 29, added, “Um, to be honest, the plants I have are more of a personal hobby for me. It’s kind of like my yoga or meditation.”
ZEN INTENTION. Not insanity.
Coffee whisperer Lindsey Pitman of Hyde Brewing/The Suffolk Punch and Trade & Lore has taken houseplant obsession to a whole extra level with a hard-to-miss habit of decorating her work spaces with plant life. Both of her Charlotte-based coffee oases are climbing and crawling with greenery.
“Plants, aside from bringing me — and, I believe, others — personal joy, add life and clean oxygen to our space,” said Pitman, 29. “It is a cooperative arrangement. As Carl Sagan says, ‘using each other’s waste gasses.'”
Insightful. So deep. Also — not insane.
“My plants are also like my customers in that I get to fuel them and watch them grow,” she said. “That might be weird, but it is like an ongoing experience, life goes on and responsibilities for caring for one another remain significant if we want to continue to enjoy each other’s company.”
Weird, yes. Insane, no.
The newest plants in my place are two refrigerator magnets carrying the tiniest of succulents. They’re so cheerful. And I vow to nurture them and my other 11 plants until they die. Which they will, because I’m inadequate.
And inadequate does not mean insane.
Photos: Blake Pope, Katie Toussaint