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Here at foli8, we sell houseplants. We sell lots of them - dozens of different species, in a variety shapes, sizes and colours. And we are not the only ones - houseplant sales are booming in Britain. But why should anyone have plants in their home? What is it about these irregularly-shaped green objects, that require care and attention, which makes them such an important feature in so many homes?
Did you know...?
- According to research by the flat share website ‘Spare Room’, 76% of British flat sharers have at least one houseplant
- Over 20% of British households are in privately rented accommodation, including well over a third of people under 35 - this means frequent house moves and limited scope for personalizing their homes
- The Edwardians call indoor plants “room plants” rather than houseplants
- Sales of houseplants in July 2020 in the UK (just as the first Covid-19 lockdown was easing) were over 80% higher than in the same month in 2019.
- Over the last ten years, the houseplant sector has been the fastest growing part of the UK plant market
Personalizing your space at home
Houseplant sales are on an upward trajectory. Even before the Covid pandemic, sales of indoor plants were increasing significantly year on year, and younger adults have been driving the trend.
There are probably as many reasons for this increasing popularity of houseplants as there are buyers of houseplants, but one likely factor is the increase in the number of younger adults living in private rented accommodation, flat shares and student lodgings, as well as living with parents for longer.
This means that there are fewer opportunities to personalize your living space than in previous generations. Short-term tenancies mean frequent house moves, and tenancy agreements often prohibit redecoration and the keeping of pets. What better way to add a stamp of individuality on your home than with houseplants?
A small collection of houseplants can be as unique as the person collecting them. The combinations of species and pots gives everyone the opportunity to create something personal to them, and something that can be updated, expanded and transported as the need arises.
Studies have also shown that houseplants can help improve mental health. Whilst we don’t claim that being around houseplants is a universal solution to mental health problems, there is a building body of evidence to show that being among plants and, possibly more importantly, caring for them is beneficial for our wellbeing.
Plants look nice - and they are good value too
This is the main reason to have plants in your home. Plants are attractive. They are interesting to look at and to touch. You don’t have to justify the purchase of a plant because of their very real benefits - buy them because you want to.
Not only are indoor plants attractive, but they are also terrific value for money. For the price of a bunch of flowers (that might last a week), a decent bottle of wine (that won’t last anything like as long), or three coffees from your favourite cafe, you can have this foli8 houseplant, our Creeping Fig, that will bring pleasure for years.
Use plants to complement and refresh every decorative style
Everyone has their preferred style, and this can change over time as fashions evolve and as we become more aware of what is possible. Interior designers are more prominent than ever and their inventiveness has never been more accessible.
The beauty of plants is that one type or another will fit in anywhere, and when you have a wide range of decorative indoor plant pots to choose from too, the possibilities are almost endless and you have instant flexibility should your tastes, or your address, change or if you just need an accessory to finish off the look you are trying to achieve.
Warmth, homeliness and tranquility
It is hard to imagine a home without houseplants - but that is maybe my own bias showing. However, consider the last time you stayed in a hotel room. No matter how luxurious, or even ‘boutique’ a hotel room may be, they are seldom, if ever, furnished with houseplants. You may be lucky to have a vase of flowers, but I can never recall having stayed in a hotel room with houseplants in them. There are obvious practical reasons for this - access for watering, and so on - but I am sure that one of the reasons why a hotel, no matter how luxurious, can never have the warmth of home is that there is nothing there alive.
Homes without plants seem sterile and harsh.
One of the reasons why plants add a sense of warmth and vitality to a living space is their ability to break up the tidy parallel lines and perpendicular corners. By bringing some irregularity indoors, we are reminded that nature has pleasing variations in height, form, colour and spatial arrangements. Looking through my window onto the countryside beyond, the land undulates and the trees are in scattered clusters, not regimented straight lines. The myriad shades of green are soothing (did you know that the human eye can distinguish between approximately 350 different shades of green?), but also full of promise of growth and vitality - especially at this time of year. Even indoors, some of my houseplants are actively growing and new leaves are emerging from previously dormant buds.
One surprising effect of having plants in your home is their ability to affect noise levels. Buildings are full of straight edges, hard and flat surfaces, and sharp corners - all of which reflect sound very efficiently. Every time you walk into an empty building, the echoes give an uneasy, literally disquieting, feeling. Plants, however, are a very attractive way of alleviating this problem.
About 30 years ago, a young researcher at Southbank University in London, called Peter Costa, carried out some very interesting experiments on the acoustic properties of indoor plants. He discovered that some species - especially those with big, fleshy leaves (such as those found on Philodendron ‘Imperial green’ or Fiddle leaf fig) - were able to absorb annoying sounds, and others (those with smaller, harder leaves like Ficus benjamina, were good at scattering sound. If you position your house plants near corners, they will have a really noticeable effect.
Plants can tell you something about people
“Would you date someone who didn’t have plants?” asked a friend of mine. She has recently come out of a relationship, and she told me that she should have spotted the warning signs immediately, as the man concerned had no houseplants. My friend felt that, in hindsight, this was a good indicator of his lack of empathy and care. By having plants, you have a focus for attention and for your natural instinct to nurture and look after others. Not only that, but they are a visible indication to others that you can care - a signpost of your humanity and empathy.
Houseplants can also act as a signpost for other things too. If a friend has plants that are suddenly in distress, it could be that they too are in a bad place and finding it hard to cope. When you have a lot on your mind, it is understandable that you might not have the capacity to think about your plants - so it might be an unconscious signal to check in on them.
By Kenneth Freeman