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Pandemic plant parents: The COVID-19 trend that may be here to last

What happened to all those pandemic houseplants? Are they still alive?

Flowers from Milgro Nursery to deliver to neighbors in Utah.
Klancee Cloward and Kelli Cloward prepare flowers from Milgro Nursery to deliver to neighbors in Provo on Friday, April 10, 2020. Due to COVID-19, Milgro Nursery had many canceled flower orders and didn’t want the flowers to go to waste.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

When COVID-19 forced lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, some people adopted a pet. Some people adopted a plant. Or two plants. Or 70 plants, according to HuffPost.

  • Plant adoptions soared to unprecedented levels last year, reports NBC News. New “plant parents” saw themselves nurturing their greenery in a personal way.

As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available and some parts of life return to pre-pandemic normal, the question remains if plant parenting is around to stay, says Bustle.

How popular is plant parenting?

Seven in 10 millennials reported that they consider themselves a “plant parent” — in a pre-pandemic study from January 2020, reports Deseret News.

No renewed survey has been conducted, but gardening and plant parenting undeniably grew last year, says Bustle.

  • During 2020, gardening-related sales increased by almost 19%, reports MarketPlace.
  • Plant stores reported surges in demand almost too much to keep up with, says NBC News.
  • New Instagram accounts and Facebook groups dedicated to plant care sprang up, reports MarketPlace.

Why did plant parenting grow during COVID-19?

Gardening became a form of self-care during the coronavirus pandemic. Plants have a scientifically supported healing effect with gardening a few times a week being associated with higher levels of perceived well-being, lower stress and increased physical activity, reports Bustle.

  • For renters and urban dwellers, plants offer a way to connect with nature without worrying about pet policies, says HuffPost.
  • For millennials — a generation already delaying major life milestones — plants offer an opportunity to nurture something yet require less attention, time and money than a pet or a child, reports HuffPost.

During long lockdowns, people also used plants as a distraction from other stresses and as a way of filling suddenly lacking socialization, says NBC News. Online plant communities became vibrant, positive corners of social media during anxious and difficult times.

  • Taking care of a plant also gave people a sense of control over some part of their life, says NBC News.

What will happen post-pandemic?

Some houseplants probably thrived during the pandemic, but others probably didn’t survive. Even if the plants may not be alive, interest in plant parenting has so far continued, reports Bustle.

  • Gardening-related sales in 2021 are up 30% from last year, reports MarketPlace.