In 2019, The New Yorker attributed the millennial’s obsession with houseplants as a way of coping with a global climate emergency. A year later, in the face of a pandemic and related lockdowns, the world’s passion for plants has only grown deeper.
“Nature has come down hard on us [with Covid-19] this past year. On some level, perhaps out of guilt, people are trying to strike a balance and embrace the outdoors,” says Angud Bhalla, co-founder of Plant People. The Mumbai-based plant studio witnessed a surge in first-time gardeners via their online platform – with numerous repeat clients buying more than they can fit into their homes!
We chat more with Angud Bhalla to unearth five gardening micro-trends that defined 2020’s plantdemic.
1. Edible gardens
Limited grocery supplies in the initial weeks of lockdown led to an introspection of where and how we grow our food. It even inspired some to start kick off their own indoor garden.
“There was a spike in enquiries for kitchen gardens [herbs & vegetables]; it’s the most we’ve stocked these varieties in the past four years,” says Bhalla, elaborating that the trend didn’t grow past the Indian monsoon – an exceptionally tricky time to tend to edible gardens without the right lighting conditions.
2. Air-purifying plants
Rising air pollution levels across major metropolitans has raised many a concern over the quality of the air we breathe. Today, it isn’t uncommon to find Nasa-approved air-purifying plants being retailed as a package on most online nurseries. However, the onslaught of a pandemic-level respiratory disease may have accelerated the demand for air-purifying plants, especially during the initial months of lockdown.
3. Statement plants
Now more than ever before, plants are occupying significant square-footage space in home interiors, observes Bhalla. “People aren’t afraid to let one giant, statement plant overpower the room,” he says.
While the fiddle leaf fig and monstera deliciosa continue to be hot favourites, Strelitzia nicolai (a variety of bird of paradise) has proven to be a worthy contender. Ideal for indoor settings, Bhalla describes it as a smaller, sturdier version of a banana plant or traveller’s palm.
Trend Alert: With outsized tropical leaves and pointy-tipped, white flowers, Strelitzia nicolai may bloom into 2021’s It plant. The rare, puckered-leaved monstera Peru is just as likely to rise to collector’s status this coming year.
4. Chic planters
It’s not just about what you sow. Equally important is where you sow it! As plants become essential to residential interior design and Instagram grids alike, finding the right planter is key to curating the perfect plantscape. Natural materials and rustic finishes are the flavour of the season with planters, says Bhalla. “They draw on an element of a sense of warmth and nostalgia,” he adds.
At Plant People, colour-block concrete and house-designed terracotta planters have been winners. Fans of the bohemian, jungalow style continue to go wild for wicker with bamboo, cane and jute planters.
5. Gardening workshops
An uptick in gardening workshops, both, online and on-ground, indicates this plantdemic is likely to outlive the iso life. The past year has seen collaborations between lifestyle décor brands and gardening influencers.
“It’s heartening to see more people get hands-on with gardening,” says Bhalla whose company put together gardening kits for a workshop hosted by a client. He also urges first-time plant parents to take the time to understand their green babies. “Unlike a cold piece of décor, growing plants is a journey. You have to establish a relationship and commit to it,” he concludes.