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Kristin McLaughlin, a former bartender from Oregon, at her Brooklyn store Soft Opening. 

Kristin McLaughlin, a former bartender from Oregon, at her Brooklyn store Soft Opening. 

Photographer: Lea Winkler for Bloomberg 

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The One Thing Millennials Haven’t Killed Is Houseplants

Record demand for Instagram-ready flora has sent ‘plant parents’ scouring the web for fiddle-leaf figs. 

Aisha Richardson, a 34-year-old designer living in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, started buying plants a few years ago to relieve job stress. Before she knew it, Richardson was hooked. She now has about 30 plants—minus one that her cat ate—and follows dozens of plant-focused Instagram feeds. How much does she spend? “I don’t want to think about it,” she says.

American millennials have been accused of dooming all sorts of things: beer, golf, cereal. But the cohort is credited with reviving the once-moribund market for houseplants. In the past three years, U.S. sales have surged almost 50 percent to $1.7 billion, according to the National Gardening Association. With many millennials delaying parenthood, plants have become the new pets, fulfilling a desire to connect to nature and the blossoming “wellness” movement. For a group that embraces experiences and travel, moreover, plants give Gen Yers something to care for that won’t die—or soil the rug—when they’re not around.