The growing popularity of houseplants

by Leah Pooley

If there’s one secret ingredient that makes any room look great, it’s a houseplant. There's no denying they're all the rage right now, but were they always this popular? We dug a little deeper and discovered that humans and houseplants have a long and interesting relationship.

Indoor plants are definitely not a new thing. Ancient cultures started using them to brighten up their interiors more than 3000 years ago. By the first century the Romans were building hot houses to grow and cultivate things like roses and lilies to adorn their courtyards and rooftops. The fall of the Roman Empire brought an end to ornamental indoor gardening and plants throughout the Medieval times were used purely for medicine and food.

The Renaissance kicked things off again and when Columbus began his adventures he discovered a bunch of exotic plant wonders that got everyone very exited. 100 years later, indoor gardening had really taken hold with over 5000 exotic plant species introduced to England. The Americans didn’t seem to care much though with interest only increasing in the states a century later. By the 1800’s people were writing books about how to care for indoor plants and get this...terrariums were cool! Everyone had a garden window, gardening was considered a respectable hobby and gardeners were looked up to as fine craftsmen.

At the start of the 20th century plants lost popularity again, mainly because people cared more about central heating and the only plants that could survive were palms. Not that we have anything against palms, but there are only so many palms you can have in one space. Then, strangely enough with the onslaught of the depression in the 30’s plants became popular again however because no one could afford them, they planted dish gardens. Yep, that thing you paid $40 for at the design market last weekend.

By the 70’s and 80’s, houseplants were in their prime and exotic indoor jungles featured plants hanging from baskets, boxes and everything in between, a look which is definitely making a come back now (devil’s ivy anyone?). However, houseplants experienced one more lull in the 90’s (apart from that awkward cactus phase) and it wasn’t until the academic community started actively promoting the health benefits that people decided to like them again.

Houseplants have slowly been creeping their way back into our hearts ever since. And this time, we think they’re here to stay. Here are some reasons why…

Houseplants are scientifically proven to improve people’s physical and emotional well-being by boosting air quality, increasing productivity and reducing stress. And as more of us become concerned about wellbeing, not to mention our increasing focus on the environment, more than ever we recognise and embrace the benefits of houseplants.

There are now more varieties that are much easier to take care of...cue the Zanzibar, which actually says “Thrives on neglect” on the tag! Succulents are also super easy to care for, as well as having a structured, cleaner look which is popular with contemporary, minimalist interiors. Even with more temperamental plants, we now have horticultural expertise literally at our fingertips thanks to the interwebs.

Instagram and Pinterest certainly have a lot to answer for, providing us with constant design inspiration and giving us the confidence to use plants as curated fashion. People are also getting more creative and innovative such as wall gardens and aquaponics where pet goldfish and houseplants live in such symbiotic harmony that they don’t even notice their only reason for existence is aesthetic pleasure.

Another reason why houseplants are so popular these days has to be that we now have such pretty things to put them in, with brighter and bolder pots becoming just as much of a feature as the plant itself.

So there you have it, a short history of the houseplant and our two cents on why they’re not going anywhere any time soon. Suddenly found yourself in desperate need of a houseplant to make your house more awesome? Check out our range direct from local florists

Have your say. We'd love to hear what you think.

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