Humans, particularly youngsters, care for and love their houseplants as they would a pet… or even a child, says the writer. Picture: Sanni Sahil/Unsplash
Humans, particularly youngsters, care for and love their houseplants as they would a pet… or even a child, says the writer. Picture: Sanni Sahil/Unsplash

Why are people obsessing over indoor plants as though they were actual human beings?

By Kaymery Swart Time of article published Nov 23, 2021

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What’s the deal with Millennials, Gen Z and houseplants? Boasting about their leafy friends you could easily mistake them for being new parents.

“Pets are the new kids, and houseplants are the new pets", is a popular new saying in reference to humans and their growing relationship with indoor plants.

There are variations of this quote, but the core idea remains: humans, particularly youngsters, care for and love their houseplants as they would a pet… or even a child.

But why are people obsessing over indoor plants as though they were actual human beings?

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According to Mossel Bay psychologist Philencia Jacobs, it is directly linked to the current situation in the world: The Pandemic.

“Generation Z, and everyone, in fact, has been quite isolated since the start of the pandemic. We spend a lot of time in our homes, socially isolating from one another. With that isolation, we tried to make our homes everything.

“Our homes became multi-faceted places where we had to incorporate all areas of our lives into one place," she says in reference to attending school classes and working from home.

The world instantaneously became a virtual one, with digital becoming the norm.

“I think plants give us the sense that we have a piece of the outside world with us, it gives a connection to the outside world.”

Jacobs says plants generally have a calming effect and “are good energy clearers”. They also create a sense of calm and connection with the outside world.

Aesthetically, plants add value to a particular area and they add personality to the room and could make the space more vibrant and outdoorsy.

There is also something grounding and wonderful about watching something grow, die and grow again. It psychologically adds in a layer of hope at a time people need it.

Houseplant enthusiast, 23-year-old recently graduated Economics honours student Vanessa Bodole says putting aesthetics aside, she was particularly attracted to houseplants because "they are a nice reflection of how well I can take care of something", saying it mirrors her dedication towards something.

"I really want a pet, but I doubt that I can take care of one at this point.

"I started with houseplants to kind of prove to myself that I can actually take care of, and be nurturing towards, something", she says.

’Pets are the new kids, and houseplants are the new pets’, is a popular new saying. Picture:

She mentions that she learnt responsibility whilst caring for houseplants. She adds that plants are "high-maintenance" and that not all are capable of caring for these living beings on a permanent basis as opposed to doing so as a fleeting phase.

She boasts that she nurtures them with great passion, checking up on them several times a day.

She feels that the overall experience of taking care of something - where her initial attraction originates from is an interesting one.

"It could just die under your care,” she says.

She emphasises the importance of engaging in the necessary tiny efforts required for plants to survive and remain healthy such as watering them and seeing that they get essential sunlight.

Although the journey was originally challenging for her, it has now become the norm and forms a part of her daily lifestyle routine.

She believes that Generation Z's increasing interest in house plants might stem from the slightly smaller commitment that comes with caring for plants in comparison to caring for pets and/or children.

"The vibe that Gen Z gives off is that they are less willing to commit to intense things compared to the previous generations who,” she laughingly adds “were prepared to have kids as soon as they could!"

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