It’s likely too early to tell if it’s a short-lived fad or a trend with some meat to it, but independent garden centers are finding more millennials in their stores looking for houseplants. Could that be their “gateway” plant? I certainly hope so.

The stats show that millennials (roughly ages 18-36) are putting off homebuying and many are in rental property. Charlie Hall has often discussed the success of multifamily development thanks to that group. Thanks in part to so-called online influencers, as well as some national coverage on the healing benefits of plants, millennials want plants in their living space.

The LA Times deemed that more millennials are becoming “plant parents” or “plant addicts” and interviewed a number of SoCal-based IGCs about their new younger customer set. You can read the entire story at: www.latimes.com/home/la-hm-millenni als-plant-parents-20180724-story.html#.

LA Times writer Lisa Boone interviewed one 30-year-old plant lover who, instead of buying furniture, was spending money on plants. “Everyone made fun of me because I was sleeping on an air mattress and buying plants. But having living things to care for soothed me,” he told Boone.

The article also said that LA’s median home price just hit $615,000 [who is buying these houses?!] so millennials in their rentals are “cultivating a sense of home with plants.”

With continued targeted marketing, these gateway houseplants could create gardeners for life. Although I’ve heard from several sources that “gardener” is not the appropriate term. Perhaps “grower” or “nurturer” would work. (Don’t roll your eyes – we do what needs to be done to get people to keep buying plants.)

A story by Caroline Biggs in the New York Times found some East Coast millennials who have taken plant keeping to the next level. Summer Rayne Oakes of Brooklyn cares for nearly 700 houseplants. She’s an environmental scientist, so she’s not the typical plant consumer. However, she’s touting all things horticulture and health on her blog (homesteadbrooklyn.com) and on her YouTube channel. She’s introducing plants and the joys they bring to people across the world.

Biggs also interviewed consultant Ian Baldwin who told her that millennials were responsible for 31 percent of houseplant sales in 2016. He added that 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.

Read the entire story here: www.nytimes.com/2018/03/09/realestate/plant-loving-millennials-at-home-and-at-work.html

And major businesses who employ large numbers of millennials like Etsy and TED Talks, incorporate plants throughout their headquarters.

Even if you don’t currently grow or don’t even intend to grow a houseplant, you still need to pay attention to this group of buyers and their interests. They may eventually have a spot to landscape, and they’ll be looking for trees, shrubs and flowers. Will they make the same connection to those products as they did to foliage plants? I am hopeful.

krodda@gie.net