Gardening continues to be one of the country’s main pastimes, but the type of gardening varies in popularity.
Gardening includes landscaping, vegetable or fruit gardening, lawn care and indoor gardening. Sometimes perennials are the star; edible gardening has been the superstar of recent years. A promising competitor is indoor plants.
Houseplant gardening is on the rise, with more people adding houseplants to their homes than ever before.
It could be that since people were staying home and had more time, they needed something to fill that time. Growing houseplants gives you something you have control over, something you care about. Watching a plant grow, flower or fruit can be exciting. Seeing something you nurtured thrive can be very rewarding. And indoor plants are a way to bring nature indoors. They can make your living space inviting and fill a void left after the holiday decorations fade away.
Whatever the reason, the popularity of indoor plants has increased dramatically over the past few years, and it looks like this trend will continue.
Growing indoor plants is nothing new. Many people remember their grandmother’s windowsill full of African violets or a mason jar with a philodendron vine draped across the room. Surprisingly, it’s the younger generation of Millennials who are leading the pack in the new wave of enthusiasm for indoor gardening.
Marketing studies suggest millennials are very concerned about well-being, and plenty of research shows the beneficial effects of having plants nearby. Indoor plants help clean the air. In 1989, NASA conducted a still-relevant study, documenting the benefits of houseplants on indoor air quality. The initial study was done on a limited number of plants, but since then researchers have found that many plants eliminate toxins. Some of the best include philodendrons and pothos, Chinese evergreens (Aglaonema sp.), spider or aerial plants (Chlorophytum), dracaenas and peace lily (Spathiphyllum).
DECOR AND PLANTS
Houseplants are available at a wide range of stores, from nurseries and garden centers to grocery stores and specialty stores. A new type of factory business opened in 2021 in Little Rock. Dandelion Home and Garden Store in Hillcrest – a plant store and home decor store – is the brainchild of partners in business and life, Susan Veasey and Rachel Morris.
The Shop – at 2923 Kavanaugh Blvd. — is full of plants but also antiques, local art and decoration ideas. The shop shows how you can use the plants it sells in a wide range of home settings.
While Veasey is more the decor/design person, Morris loves indoor plants. They moved from Dallas to Little Rock to take advantage of a somewhat slower pace. They wanted a business that would both meet their needs, but also benefit the community. They have found a retail concept that they will both like, each sharing their strengths.
Veasey, a full-time nurse at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock, uses her free time to work in the store and decompress from all the stress of the covid unit. Plants can do that – they can provide an escape at times that are quite stressful.
Their trade name sums up their ideas. Dandelions are tough, long-lasting plants with deep roots, and although some may consider the dandelion a weed, it produces a beautiful flower, the plants are edible and you can make a wish with the pod – a versatile plant and a versatile company.
Dandelion has a wide range of indoor plants in a variety of sizes at different price points, and for someone just starting out, they offer plenty of smaller plants. Dandelion will help you choose a plant that is suitable for your home. They will also share cultural information so you understand how to care for the plant.
The same can be said for interior design lines. Although they sell antiques, they also offer art, jewelry, and a wide range of homewares. They are looking for unique small business start-up articles with interesting products to showcase.
Trying to combine the two parts of their business, they started combining their antiques with their plants, turning some of their decorating inventory into creative planters. You can choose one of their planted containers or bring your own container. Dandelion will work with you to create a design using succulents or houseplants that will enhance both the container and the plants.
Recently, a client brought in a designer shoe, and the end result was quite stunning, with an arrangement of “airy successors” that showcased both the soles and the shoe. The boutique also uses succulents in wedding designs and as favors for baby and bridal showers – a lasting reminder of a momentous event.
Succulents are growing in popularity, and more varieties are available in Arkansas than the familiar hens and chicks. Succulents have thick, fleshy leaves. They survive well in dry conditions. Air succulents are something a little different.
Air succulents are a relatively new offering from the Netherlands. Succulents would be planted in the ground; but these aerial succulents had their roots cut off and a callus formed. They can be grouped together in decorative containers, left on a shelf, or made into a living wreath.
They are not considered long-lived plants, but they will last longer in damp places like a bathroom or kitchen. They can absorb moisture from the air. Some growers recommend lightly misting the plants to prolong their lifespan, but any lingering water droplets on the foliage will cause problems.
Consider aerial succulents as an alternative to a bouquet of flowers – they will last much longer and are extremely easy to care for.
If you prefer potted succulents, they also sell those, along with many other indoor plants and a varied mix of cacti.
TIPS FOR HOUSE PLANTS
If you’re new to gardening, start small and increase your success.
The two main things houseplants need to survive are sunlight and water. The biggest houseplant killer is overwatering, so learn something about what your plant needs to thrive – light and humidity requirements vary by species.
Pothos, Chinese evergreens, philodendrons and dracaenas are all good choices to start with.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Indoor plants are much less demanding than a pet, and much cheaper too. Once you get the hang of it, diversify and add to your collection or better yet, split or spread and share with your friends.
If you don’t own a houseplant, it’s time to jump on that train. There are many options.
Read Janet Carson’s blog at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet.