By Jill Brooke
It’s Houseplant Appreciation Day and in our installment of fun floral news, it’s time to celebrate indoor plants.
Its popularity keeps on growing in giant proportions like Jack and the Beanstalk – especially among millennials.
As I told foxbusinesnews.com in a recent article, unlike their parents, many young people are less inclined to want to purchase homes with gardens and maintenance requirements. Instead, they want smaller spaces – often apartments – and budget for experiences with flexibility.
However, the healing aspects of plants appeal to their wellness consciousness which also contributes to the blossoming houseplant trend. Studies about biophilic design such as the one by Kathryn Gilchrist show that plants “can lead to healthy, productive workplaces through enhanced attention capacity, lower stress levels, and higher job satisfaction from viewing plants” as well as outside the workplace.
Furthermore, a 2018 National Gardening Survey found that five of the six million Americans who took up gardening in 2016 were between the ages of 18-34.
“That same age bracket accounts for almost a third of houseplant sales. 37 percent of millennials grow plants and herbs indoors,” says Society of American Florist President Kate Penn.
Adds Ellen Wells, Editor-at-Large, Green Profit, because of this increasing trend, growers are developing better plants to accommodate the desire for both color and low-maintenance plants.
Myles Brown, who runs the garden center at Perennial Gardens garden says these plants are popular because they better fit our modern life requiring little maintenance and there are so many options. Another bonus? On a small window, they will get all the light required. Not much watering needed either. Christmas cactus, with its pink flowers, are also popular since many people got a cutting from their grandmother. More varieties are on the horizon.
Pretty bursts of colors with full petals. Don’t water from the top. Plants need to be watered from the bottom and soak it no more than 30 minutes. Water should be at room temperature. If the water is too cold, it chills the roots causing leaves to curl down. Allow soil around roots to dry out before watering and it can bloom for a few months. The decaying blossoms need to be pinched to encourage new growth.
The flowers come in a rainbow of colors including yellow, orange, magenta and white. “They have to be left on a sunny bright window but basically take care of themselves,” says Brown. “Look to see if the soil is dry and feed them occasionally – once every few weeks. They will occasionally rebloom.
A plant that Brown says he can’t keep in stock. Fiddle Leaf Fig trees require a lot of bright light but not necessary to have direct sun. It can be put in front of a big window. They need at least six or more hours of bright light to thrive. You do have to rotate this plant once a week so all leaves get access to light. Water when the soil feels dry. Then water thoroughly until water drains in a saucer. It also benefits from water-soluble plant food. Avoid putting it near a drafty window since it’s from a warm climate and doesn’t respond well.
Coming back into fashion. It responds to a well-lit place but doesn’t like direct sunlight. Put on a coffee table or side table in a living room. Since it prefers high humidity, bathrooms are ideal places for these plants too. Water once a week during the winter and twice a week during summer.
Even the foliage is attractive on these plants with a slightly silvery shimmer. Cyclamens are very popular in the winter months and require little care. and come in an array of fun colors. It likes bright indirect light during the winter. However, in the summer, put it in the shade or cooler area. Water when it feels dry an inch below the surface.
A perennial favorite, orchids only need to be watered when dry to the touch. Although many just put three ice cubes per week as their maintenance, Brown says a better formula is to touch it in the middle of the plant to make sure it’s dry before watering. Most failures are the result of overwatering. One of his clients has the record of one phalaenopsis orchid remaining in continuous bloom for 26 months. But for most people, hope for three months of enjoying this beautiful flower. Avoid drafts and direct sunlight when in bloom.
Another benefit of houseplants is that it introduces people to gardening which can not only be a lifelong passion but also a source of great learning and joy.
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD.