The indoor plant market has flourished in the past five years. The pandemic alone boosted the demand for indoor plants by 18%. 66% of US households have at least one indoor plant. Thanks to months of strict isolation, indoor plants became a window to the natural world outside that was unexpectedly severed from us. This perception appears to have outlived the pandemic. Primarily responsible for this upward trend is the millennial generation. They are the fastest growing buyer age group in the houseplant market, with 7 in 10 millennials considering themselves “plant parents”1. Given their cultural makeup, millennials regard indoor plants as a low-risk alternative to exerting their need to care for and nurture something outside themselves. We can put having children on hold; nurturing and caring, we can not.
Indoor plant care is an ancient art poorly recognized in the knowledge realm of human wellness and health. The first evidence of indoor plant caring dates back to the early Greeks and the Romans. Other ancient practices, such as meditation and yoga, have been more successful at claiming their place as effective wellness tools in modern society. When asked why plant buyers buy plants, their responses are highly varied, from reconstructing their childhood homes, adding greenery, and boosting their mood to improving air quality. Notably, 59% of plant owners say indoor plants are important to their health and wellness2. Why? They have no clue. Plant care is widely used as an effective, low-risk, low-cost approach to improving mental health. We just have not realized it nevermind promoted it as such.
Regardless of the lack of common understanding of the value that plant care brings into our life, scientific evidence of the positive impact of plants on human wellbeing is overwhelming3. They offer many health benefits, including psychological, such as improved mood and affective state, and physiological, such as reduced stress hormones and blood pressure. It is not clear what kind of nature contact is responsible for these health benefits. Most researchers presume that people’s connection with nature is primarily visual. Some studies posit that tactile, auditory, and olfactory contact also play a role in observed benefits4. Experts in horticultural therapy claim that to reap the health benefits of plants, more active interaction, such as repotting or pruning them, is needed. Unfortunately (or not? Wink!), these activities are seldom required since most indoor plants show slow growth. In fact, on the scales of “spatial footprint” and “frequency of interactions,” indoor plants rank low (very low!) as a form of nature contact when compared to “residing in a green neighborhood,” “hiking,” and “green activities”3.
Considering how accessible indoor plants are and the revived interest they currently enjoy, it is unfortunate that they are not more pervasive in our daily life. Half of the millennials do not own a plant out of fear of not knowing how to care for them. Where does that leave future generations? Interacting with plants should be a habit — our second nature. They are a great way to bring nature indoors while improving our wellbeing; we don’t need a jungle at home to realize it!
At Humegy, we believe in direct and frequent interaction with plants to reap health benefits. Moreover, in harmony with our millennials, we believe that the “nurturing” aspect of plant interactions is vital to maximizing their health benefits and renewing our relationship with the natural world. Can we promote plant care as a tool for wellness and mental health and re-activate our second nature of interacting with nature even when indoors? At Humegy, we aspire to do just that. Our approach consists of three main parts: (1) We make it easy to care for plants so plant owners can increase nature in their indoor spaces with more plants, and those who fear caring for plants no longer have that fear. (2) Our novel habit-forming technology helps users create sustained healthy patterns of interaction with plants, thus increasing the frequency of that interaction. (3) Through self-tracking tools built into our app, users can integrate these healthy patterns into their wellbeing and mental health daily routine.
1SWNS Research Survey. 2020.
2Articulate Article. 2020. Survey: Decorating with houseplants.
3Conniff A, Craig TT. 2016. A methodological. approach to understanding the wellbeing and. restorative benefits associated with greenspace. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2016.06.019
4Frumkin H, Bratman GN, Breslow SJ, Cochran B, Kahn PH Jr, Lawler JJ, Levin PS, Tandon PS, Varanasi U, Wolf KL, Wood SA. Nature Contact and Human Health: A Research Agenda. Environ Health Perspective. 2017. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP1663