About 80% of the nearly 6 million rookie gardeners in 2015 were millennials, some of whom opted for a menagerie of plant pets over more traditional four-legged companions. The motivations—and the benefits—of having plants are startling similar to pet ownership. Seeing something grow from just a wee thing and thrive under your care connects you to your space, the planet and to wider community of like-minded people. (#plantsofinstagram anyone?)
From relieving stress and aiding digestion to lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety, having plants in your life, however you manage to do it, can be rewarding on so many levels. Gardening has been shown to boost productivity and creative thinking as well as act as a natural anti-depressant.
Bacteria found in soil (specifically Mycobacterium vaccae) appears to improve mood and brain function by triggering our bodies to release serotonin, a feel good hormone. To feel happier and smarter, regular exposure is key, whether you’re getting your hands in dirt by caring for plant babies indoors, nurturing your own crop of vegetables and herbs or growing an outdoor pollinator garden.
While trends in plants bloom and wilt (it’s ok, I groaned too), before digging in, it’s important to understand what your goals are, what kind of indoor light or soil you have and what kind of “plant parent” you’re likely to be. Budget can also be a factor: once you’re at your local nursery or garden center it’s too late—your eyes may be bigger than your bank account.
For those that don’t have access to a backyard, houseplants can be the gateway to plant love, whether you start with a tiny air plant or invest in a wonderful Monstera jungle from day one. If you’re attracted to the trendy houseplants of Instagram, finding recommendations based on your experience level and available time is easy to find at local plant shop or online.
If you have the space, the next step might be gardening on a balcony, either using built-in planters or in a variety of pots. Tomatoes, herbs, leafy greens and many flowering plants can thrive in containers.
And finally, if you’re lucky enough to have a backyard and love flowers, annuals will give you blooms from spring through fall, though the yard work every spring and fall can be daunting. Vegetables and herbs will keep you well-fed and lower your grocery bill. Eco-minded gardeners (is there any other kind?) will drool over the all the native pollinator-friendly plants they can fit in their yards.