In a completely original move, I’ve decided to get into house plants. However, with so many millennials gleefully entering plant parenthood, I think I know why.
As a member of that baleful generation we all rightfully loathe for its inability to be original, I proudly point at the signposts, the merit badges that prove the legitimacy of my place in it. I’ve rediscovered clothes that people have died in, I’ve found the music of Rufus Thomas, I’ve traded in my Penguin classics for the slightly older versions of the same text.
While I’ve entertained these instances of us (see also: batch, crockery wholesales, the pursuit of a federation home), I’ve felt incomplete. However, I’ve recently emerged from the winter of my ennui, blooming into verdant roots that seemingly hold us: Houseplants.
The term “plant blindness” was coined by two botanists back in the final thrust of the nineties, illustrating the lack of interest one shows in plants, and the moral reordering one commits, i.e. animals bettering plants, and plants being a problem, and a problem to keep alive. So, I chose what everyone has, I strolled the imitation racks at IKEA, believing that a make-believe plant was, well, a plant. I had no room for life in my tiny flat regardless, it took up space that I needed. The corn chips that made up my breakfast clearly gave testament to the fact that I couldn’t look after myself, let alone another, clearly, I was not ready for plant parenthood.
However, my contemporaries were. According to Bloomberg, U.S. sales have surged almost 50% to $1.7 billion.
“With many millennials delaying parenthood, plants have become the new pets, fulfilling a desire to connect to nature and the blossoming ‘wellness’ movement,” Matthew Boyle for Bloomberg wrote. “For a group that embraces experiences and travel, moreover, plants give Gen-Yers something to care for that won’t die – or soil the rug – when they’re not around.”
According to New York-based ‘plantfluencer’ by the name of Oakes, in conversation with The New Yorker, believes our trunk-like stiffy for houseplants stems from our chosen restrictions. “It’s this wonderful hobby that we have somewhat of control over, especially because we don’t have back yards or places to call our own, really.”
The grip, to use overused parlance of the times, is real. I returned from an overseas jaunt to find that my firstborn (identical twins, maidenhair fern, purchased from the IGA up the road) tragically passed in my absence, their twisted brown branches seemingly pointing at the inept parent that was unwilling to water them. Was it as bad as leaving a child in a supermarket? No. Was it akin to seeing your dog fly off a cliff? Lord, no. But it certainly was on the spectrum of parental angst. I immediately empathised with Kevin McAllister’s Mum, questioning your own suitability to parent, castigating your choice to mainline Tarte aux framboise on the Rues of Paris instead of organising a sitter. I find myself, not closer to adulthood, but performing a meaningful side-step around it. Once we ran a finger down the spines of unfamiliar bookshelves at house parties, now we fondle and judge conditions of their indoor storks. Clearly, we long for life, or the opportunity to not kill something. We, which is to say I, have no stomach for children and have not the landlord approval for a dog, so perhaps we’re making do, through the medium of something we thought was tacky in our youth, something our parents attempted to reach us with, but we refused, because we were far too cool.
Look at us now.
But for those looking to enter into plant parenthood, one should consider it as you would children. It’s a question of practicality as well as personality. To share the sage advice of a millennial long gone to pot, “…if your Tamagotchi routinely died, this is not for you.”