So You Think You’re Ready To Become A Plant Parent? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

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Let’s take a look at what we know about the millennial generation.

We live in a heavily, technology-driven world. We’re a sucker for Instagram (and things that will boost our popularity on the ‘gram). We’re becoming increasingly aware of mental health issues, constantly working towards raising awareness and solving the problems associated with such issues. And we’re a bunch of commitment-phobes…

Take these factors into account and our love of raising a family of indoor plants comes as no surprise. Starting with the obvious social media addiction our generation is so frequently accused of, houseplants are the ultimate growing (pardon the pun) subject for your Instagram feed with millions of posts dedicated to popular tags such as #plantsofinstagram, #urbanjungle and #plantlife. In reality, the cultivation and caring for houseplants has benefits that far outweigh the accumulation of likes our ‘plant baby’ might get us in the short term. They help to boost not only our mood but also our creativity and in an insanely connected world, encourage us to slow down and be mindful. They offer the chance to take care of something outside of ourselves and teach us habits to think of the needs of others around us. We’re a generation of renters, mostly in urban areas, living in a mindset where children are far off in the future and most landlords don’t allow pets but we still enjoy the responsibility of helping something to grow and thrive.

Then there’s the therapeutic element and mental health benefits that draws millennials to the indoor houseplant trend. Horticultural therapy has been in practice and recommended by psychologists and therapists since the 19th century to improve mental health and although this is largely centred around working in greenhouses and outdoor gardens, the same general practices apply to care for indoor houseplants. Research shows that Millennials and Gen-Xers are more likely to turn to unhealthy behaviours because of stress, for example, drinking heavily or binge eating unhealthy food so the fact that caring for indoor plants helps to reduce stress provides real therapeutic benefits for them as a generation.

We spoke to the team at Memento, a Belfast based floristry about the benefits of becoming a ‘plant parent.’ Gary Connolly, Managing Director at the company explained, “Plants make people happy. Becoming a plant parent enables people to instil some routine in their lives. It gives you a sense of being needed. These beautiful living creatures rely solely on you for their every need and their happiness will bring you a massive sense of self-achievement.”

Instagram / @mementobelfast

Benefits To Your Health

Further benefits include helping to deter illness and boost healing. A study by the University of Norway documented that using plants in interior spaces decreased the chances of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs. Indoor plants also help to clean the air. Through thorough research into air quality in sealed environments, NASA determined that plants play a pivotal role in the improvement of indoor air quality with chemicals such as Monoxide and Formaldehyde being removed by plant leaves alone.

According to Gary, “The best plants to do this are Peace Lily, Golden Pothos, Spider Plant & Sanevieria to name a few! A little fact most people may not know, when photosynthesis stops at night, most plants switch things up and absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide. However, a few special plants – like orchids, succulents and aloe vera – flip that script and take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Meaning, use these plants in bedrooms to keep the oxygen flowing at night.”

There are also huge benefits to productivity when you’re around plants – a major selling point for a lot of students or those that work from home. As with simply being in nature, being around plants improves concentration, memory and productivity. With reports for the University of Michigan showing that being ‘under the influence of plants can increase memory retention by up to 20 per cent.

Reducing Stress

Georgia, lovingly referred to as ‘Resident Millennial’ by her Memento colleagues, told us about her own experience with being a plant parent and why so many Millennials are obsessed with indoor houseplants.

“Becoming a plant parent gives people a sense of self-achievement. My interest with plants started during my final year at University. Being in an environment where I was stressed, tired and overworked, with no real pastime I could call a hobby to help me relax, I turned to plants. I started off my collection by investing in one little plant – a spider plant. By being the person solely responsible for caring and nurturing for this living plant baby helped give routine to my week. In a very short period of time, my collection soon grew to over 30 different plant species. It’s such an enjoyable experience learning about the different needs each plant has which, in a sense encouraged me to look after myself too. I found a new way to release my stress and discover a new outlook in life. Plant Therapy is definitely something we recommend. Through a new love for plants, I’ve met new people, made new friends and even have a job as a plant carer – all thanks to being a Plant Parent!”

They’ve certainly seen a spike in millennial customers at Memento, a lot of which ties into their brand messaging.

“Since we relocated our business to the Ormeau Road, we have invested a lot of time ensuring that our brand appeals to a wide spectrum demographic, particularly the millennial customer. My husband and I were in our late twenties when we set our company up. Being relatively young adults ourselves we really wanted to show the younger generation that your local florist isn’t just a place your parents go to send flowers to a friend for their birthday, we wanted to offer an unforgettable experience showcasing some of the most beautiful plants the world has to offer. When it comes to purchasing a new plant we love to empower people to get fully immersed in the experience and become passionate about their new plant. This is what led to the evolution of our Plant Addict brand – once you buy one, you’re hooked, you’ll continue to want to grow your collection creating your own jungle at home.”

Instagram / @mementobelfast

“We wanted to offer an unforgettable experience showcasing some of the most beautiful plants the world has to offer.”

For those of you considering taking the leap into plant parenthood, we asked the Memento team for their top tips on becoming a first time plant mum/dad.

Tell us about some of your most popular plants at the moment

One of the most popular plants and a personal favourite of ours is the Monstera Deliciosa aka the Swiss Cheese plant, they grow like a monster and will quickly take over a corner of your home.

Another popular plant is the humble little Pilea Peperomioides, more commonly known as the Chinese Money plant. Its beautiful circular (almost pancake-shaped) leaves grow from a central stalk. It comes with a little saying from its grower ‘This plant will bring you happiness’ and it certainly does. We love watching it grow!

Finally, the Ficus Lyrata, known as a Fiddle Leaf Fig, has to be one of the most in-demand plants at the moment. We stock these in various sizes in store. With their gorgeous large glossy leaves they can be quite fickle to look after but once you get its light conditions, heat and watering perfect then it will just do its own thing!

What are the best plants for small spaces versus bigger spaces?

If you live in a small space, then fully utilize it! We live in an apartment just off the Ormeau Road and its home to over 180 plants. Get creative in your space. Our windows are adorned by hanging plants such as Rhipsalis, lipstick plants, Ivy and ferns.

Use your wall space. Consider a wall-mounted Kokedama or a Mossed frame, perhaps a terrarium for your coffee table (you can come along to our workshops and create all of these for your home!)

Plants we’d recommend for small spaces are Pilea Peperomioides (Chinese money plant), Peace Lily, String of hearts, Asparagus Fern.

Got a big space to fill? Then make a statement with gorgeous Fiddle Leaf Fig. We supply these from 65cm right up to 2m. A Monstera Deliciosa has made a comeback over the last few years, this fast-growing beauty will quickly take over a corner of your home with its beautiful green leaves with holes which look oddly similar to swiss cheese! Palms are also great for filling a large space. An Acreca palm is very low maintenance but makes a large impact!

Instagram / @mementobelfast

What are the top 3 low maintenance plants?

We’ve spent a lot of time researching and following plant trends and we understand that not just millennial’s but everyone today has limited free time to spend caring for ‘high maintenance’ plants so we’ve done all the hard work for you, sourcing some of the quirkiest low maintenance plants from all over the world,  we document the care information and share this with our customers so they make a fully informed purchase and leave our store with all the information they need to keep their new plant baby alive!

Our top 3 are:

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Prayer Plant (Maranta)

Devils Ivy (Epipremnum)

Instagram / @mementobelfast

Memento host a wide range of plant-based workshops including their Plant Addict Workshop, Kokedama Workshop and an Open Terrarium Workshop where you can create your own urban jungle. For more information, visit their website at www.mementofloraldesign.com.

Keep up to date with all of their latest news and their wide range of Instagrammable stock by following them on Instagram – @mementobelfast.

Niamh Crawford-Walker

Niamh is a full time fashion and features writer at The Style Edit. Her work has previously appeared in IMAGE magazine, image.ie and Emirates Woman.

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