Instead of venturing out of the house to go to work or get groceries, the pandemic made us adapt to going about our daily lives within the confines of four walls. Even two years after the pandemic's start, people are still bringing a touch of the outside in, which has resulted in a boom of indoor gardening, houseplants, living green walls, biophilic furniture, and more.
"With the lockdown, so many people who lived in metropolitan cities were unable to do things like lunch in the park, or enjoy an afternoon reading in an open space," says gardening expert Dominique Charles of Plots & Pans. "Adding cool houseplants brought the joy of the outdoors that many didn’t realize they missed. I hope people continue to add plants into their homes for the beauty and fresh air quality they provide."
Nick Cutsumpas, the plant coach and urban farmer behind Farmer Nick, agrees: "People are spending more time at home than ever before, and they want to feel connected to something green that they can nurture," he says.
While our love of houseplants is high—with 66% of American households owning at least one houseplant—that's just the beginning. People are also bringing full-on gardens into their homes. In the past, gardening hasn’t always been the most accessible hobby. Unless you had a backyard, ample space, and the right conditions, growing your own food wasn’t always an option. But thanks to a little creativity and some new technology, bringing the outside in and creating your dream garden—regardless of space and climate—is on the rise.
According to Jacob Pechenik, CEO and founder of Lettuce Grow, the company's initial focus was on growing outdoors in the sunbelt states. But he quickly realized that there was tremendous demand from apartment dwellers in urban areas.
"It was perhaps even stronger than in traditional outdoor markets," Pechenik says. "Since launching our Glow Rings, which allow our customers to have the option to grow indoor or outdoor and/or switch back and forth depending on the season, we’ve seen around 40% of sales in indoor markets. Think New York City! It's our second-largest market."
Pechenik says Lettuce Grow just surpassed 2.5 million plants grown and harvested by their community across all 50 states. And, he doesn't see this indoor gardening trend dying anytime soon.
"The trend is only going to continue, with more than 50% of the world's population now living in urban areas and lacking the outdoor space—not to mention time—for a traditional garden," he says. "In 10-15 years from now, every household should have a hydroponic system, like our Farmstand. People will see indoor gardening appliances as ubiquitous as refrigerators. People will look at them—in the same way as they look in a pantry or fridge—to see what they will prepare for dinner. We have the technology and the ability to do it, and it makes sense in every single way."
Aside from indoor gardening being a fun, mood-boosting hobby—just like being a plant parent—it can also be beneficial to the planet. These days, food is shipped across the country, creating carbon emissions in the process. Aside from the food miles from transportation, we also need to drive to the store to buy these groceries. Pechenik says 70% of people grew their own food just 100 years ago, and revisiting that in 2022 can help us reconnect with nature and where our food comes from.
"By growing your own food at home—let’s say five feet from your kitchen or dining room table—the taste of what you pick is amazing and filled with nutrients," Pechenik says. "Most 'fresh' produce on grocery store shelves has been dead for 10 days, it’s traveled thousands of miles, it’s likely sprayed with chemicals, and so much of the nutritional value is lost along the way."
While this tech makes it easy to grow your own food, regardless of space, you can also try out indoor gardening with nothing but your food scraps. Videos have continued to go viral on social media that show how easy it is to grow everything from lettuce to onions to celery with the food scraps that typically get thrown away.
Another indoor plant trend you're bound to see more of? Living green walls. "Green walls and more artistic forms of botanical life are definitely starting to take hold. Whether it is office spaces or private residences, companies that make large-scale plant wall installations are seeing an uptick," Cutsumpas says.
It's also becoming more popular to incorporate plants into furniture—aka biophilic furniture. "Biophilic furniture is all about incorporating living plants into the furniture itself, or designing furniture specifically for plants," Cutsumpas says.
Blooming Tables, for example, created the world's first terrarium table. But you can also use what you already have at home to DIY your own biophilic furniture.
"I'm experimenting with more plant-filled biophilic furniture and the response has been overwhelmingly positive," he says. "I made some biophilic furniture using salvaged wood: a coffee table, a plant flight, and air plant frames. I think you'll see more of this at both the professional and DIY level."
There are so many ways you can bring the outside into your space, no matter where you live. Only one question remains: With all the possibilities, which method will you go for first?