Houseplants, once regarded as outdated relics of the 1970s, are firmly back in fashion, driven by millennials proudly showing off their indoor urban jungles on social media.
According to the Garden Centre Association, which represents nearly 200 UK garden centres, houseplant sales rose by 17.6 per cent in 2019.
GCA chief executive Iain Wylie told Candide: “Houseplants were the best-selling category at garden centres in 2019. Their popularity has taken off with the millennial generation, with millions of (social media) posts tagged #houseplant.” The GCA reports that houseplant sales this July were double that of 2019.
Iain’s views were echoed by Kyla Foster-Shaw at Castle Gardens, who added: “With the rise of Millennials and Generation Z came the rise of the houseplants. For those with little to no outdoor space and unlimited access to social media, the indoor jungle is the go-to interior look, bringing with it the benefits of a clean, healthy lifestyle.”
With the launch of Candide Marketplace this year, Candide report 50% of stock listed and sold is indoor plants, with the most sought after varieties including Monstera, Philodendron, Calathea and Alocasia.
Booming demand saw the Royal Horticultural Society’s online operation, rhsplants.co.uk, chalk-up a 61 per cent rise in houseplant sales last year.
Its top three best sellers were Monstera deliciosa, Dypsis lutescens and Phalaenopsis ‘White Willd Orchid’. This year, foliage plants are already up by 43 per cent, compared to 2019.
RHS head of buying, Tim Hollis, said the Society’s in-store houseplant sales rose by 45 per cent last year: “Key drivers include the physical and mental health benefits of houseplants – evidence suggests indoor plants can help clean the air, and increasing urbanisation and living in smaller spaces with no outside space. Houseplants are being widely featured in lifestyle magazines’ interior shoots, and with increased numbers of people now working from home, spaces around us are ever more important.”
Double H Nurseries in New Milton, one of the UK’s largest growers of moth orchids for supply to retailers, saw demand from supermarkets plummet by more than 50% as lockdown hit in spring.
With up to 15,000 orchids ready for dispatch every week but with nowhere to go, the nursery transformed its orchid tips website loveorchids.co.uk into an e-commerce venture.
Image Credit: Double H Nurseries
Operations manager at Double H, Andy Burton, said: “As a result, we sold over 70,000 orchids online since April that would otherwise have ended up in the bin, with mini-orchids proving most popular as they work well in bathrooms and kitchens.”
Image Credit: Double H Nurseries
What about smaller, specialist nurseries that have suffered the loss of RHS flower shows? At indoor plant specialist Dibleys Nurseries in Wales, which holds more than 200 RHS gold medals, online houseplant orders are helping to make up for the loss of public events.
Commercial manager Paul Johnson said: “We have seen a significant uplift in mail-order sales – more than double the previous year, particularly for flowering streptocarpus by post, which makes a lovely present for people who are shielding . Rex foliage begonias have been popular, too.”
The nursery’s best-selling streptocarpus are ‘Falling Stars’, ‘Polka Dot Purple’ and ‘Three Sisters’.
Streptocarpus Polka-Dot Purple. Image Credit: Dibleys Nurseries
Matthew Soper, of 21-times RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medal-winner Hampshire Carnivorous Plants, said sales of airplants had “gone through the roof”.
Matthew explained: “People have been stuck indoors at home this year and they’ve been bored; our website has taken more business from customers looking to have a go at growing airplants.”
However, 2020 hasn’t been kind to all growers. At Ottershaw Cacti in Surrey, a spokeswoman said: “Prior to lockdown we experienced growing sales of all succulents. But during lockdown, with the loss of all RHS shows, our sales have been low – just 10 per cent of a normal year, even with a new webshop.”