Plant-Loving Millennials at Home and at Work

Sourced from the New York Times

When Summer Rayne Oakes’s roommate moved out of their apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, she was left with more than just a vacant bedroom.

“All of a sudden the apartment felt so cold and empty,” said Ms. Oakes, 33. “I needed to find a way to make the space feel warm and full of life again.”

Her solution? A fiddle leaf fig tree; the first of nearly 700 houseplants — spanning 400 species — that Ms. Oakes, founder of Homestead Brooklyn, would eventually buy for her 1,200-square-foot apartment.

Her indoor forest features everything from a subirrigated living wall in her bedroom, which is a wall of greenery that is essentially a self-watering planter with a built-in reservoir; a vertical garden made out of Mason jars mounted to the living-room wall with wooden boards and hose clamps; and a closet-turned-kitchen grow garden with edible plants (ranging from herbs and greens to pineapple plants and curry leaves).

“I didn’t set out to build a jungle,” Ms. Oakes said. “I just saw how much energy and life the plants brought to the space and kept going.”

It’s a sentiment that more and more young people seem to be echoing in their own apartments. Wellness-minded millennials, especially ones in large urban environments that lack natural greenery, are opting to fill their voids — both decorative and emotional — with houseplants.

“Millennials were responsible for 31 percent of houseplant sales in 2016,” according to Ian Baldwin, a business adviser for the gardening industry. The 2016 National Gardening survey found that of the six million Americans who took up gardening that year, five million were ages 18 to 34. “This group has more college debt and as a result, are renting homes instead of buying,” Mr. Baldwin said. “Houseplants are a low-cost way to have a green space at home.”

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