Why New York millennials are so in love with plants
It wasn’t until I moved to New York City that I realized how much I needed plants in my life. I grew up in a small Massachusetts college town nestled in the Pioneer Valley—the residents call it “Happy Valley,” probably because it’s so green—where my mother is still an avid gardener. She made sure our home was filled with plants, both indoors and out. I recall terrariums galore and rooms filled with potted ivy, ficus, cactus and euphorbia, most of which are older than me and yet continue to thrive even now.
Like most kids, I took it all for granted. I never helped out in the garden and rarely picked up a watering can. It was only in the plants’ absence that I was first able to recognize their positive influence on my life. Not only did my barren NYC apartment not feel like my childhood home, it also didn’t feel like a home at all. Pretty soon, I realized I was missing the comforting and visceral experience of being surrounded by living, breathing greenery.
And I’m not alone among my peers. Fellow millennial Maria Failla, the podcaster behind Bloom & Grow Radio, is a self-dubbed “succulent killer turned crazy plant lady.” As she recounts, “During my first five years in NYC, I killed about 20 houseplants that I tried to have in various apartments.” But she felt a call to keep trying: “I found myself completely drawn to the tranquillity and being able to unplug when I had my morning coffee surrounded by my plants. They reminded me to keep growing, and with the right amount of water and love, beautiful things can happen.”
Five million of 2017’s six million new gardeners were millennials. So it’s clear there’s something bigger going on than a search for love or home—millions of us are hoping to reap the rewards of being a nurturer. For a generation suffering from the combined poison of too much time on our phones, not enough time outdoors and a touch of loneliness, plants seem to be a partial antidote.
So, in 2012, I created The Sill, a first-of-its-kind “plant brand” that addresses the strong attachment between millennials and plants, especially here in this concrete jungle. Six years later, I am certain that plants reduce stress, increase productivity and creativity, boost our mood and more—I have seen it happen. Every day, another young New Yorker discovers that green things can provide a surprisingly strong restorative for what’s ailing them. And, suddenly, a few succulents and a couple of ferns later, they’re home.