PEI

Digging in to a renewed interest in houseplants

The trend in houseplants is toward easy-to-keep, anything with a bold splash of green, and all things cute and succulent.

Houseplants are hot again — here are some of the easiest to keep

Van Kampen's Greenhouses in Charlottetown has just started carrying houseplants and they are selling well. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Houseplants are not just for granny's house anymore — they can be seen on just about every blog, magazine and Instagram post these days. 

The trend is toward easy-to-keep, anything with a bold splash of green, and all things cute and succulent. 

Peter Meijer at Van Kampen's Greenhouses in Charlottetown noticed plants trending on social media and decided now was the time to order some in for customers to try. 

"Upward trending on Instagram, big time — taking care of your plant babies," he said. "Interest is high." 

Vikki Sweeney at Flower Buds in Charlottetown shows off a dracaena plant, a popular choice of houseplant. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

"People want to care for something but maybe don't have kids, don't want the responsibility of a dog or a cat, but they want the responsibility of caring for something — a plant fits into their life really well."

'Into it big time'

Vikki Sweeney, co-owner at Flower Buds in Charlottetown, said plants are more popular than ever with young people, she thinks in part because they are an inexpensive and cheerful way to decorate. 

Mother-in-law's tongue or snake plant is the houseplant that is hardest to kill says Vikki Sweeney of Flower Buds. (Sara Fraser/CBC )

"And they'll come in with the real name, the botanical name," she said. "They're into it big time, and they're keeping us trendy." 

Meijer's number one choice for an easy maintenance houseplant is sansevieria, also called snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue (it has tough, spiky looking leaves). In fact he was all sold out of the plants when he spoke to CBC Wednesday. 

'Back into vogue again'

"Fantastic plant, really easy to care for. Requires little watering ... and it requires a low, low amount of light, so you can grow it almost anywhere in your home," he said. 

These cacti are super-easy to keep alive — they're articifial! (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Sweeney agrees snake plant is the easiest — "you can't kill those suckers" — and is currently very popular.

"Philodendrons are coming back into vogue again," Sweeney said, "because they're easy to grow and a splash of colour. You can cut them off and reroot them, or you can let them grow long." 

Tradescantia is an old-school plant that's making a comeback too — it comes in a few different colours and sizes and is what is known as an "inch plant," Meijer said, with trailing stems that grow for about an inch before sprouting a new leaf. 

Succulents have been a hot decor item for the last couple of years and are still trending. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Orchids, aloe vera, dracaena, and air plants are also popular and very easy to grow, they said. 

Christy Johnson dropped by Van Kampen's to get a couple of houseplants — the 26-year-old said she wanted them as indoor air purifiers, especially because cold winter temperatures means keeping windows in their home closed. 

"These plants will help retain the oxygen level in those rooms," she said. "The benefit is they don't need much watering and they don't need much sunlight." 

Air plants are low-maintenance all they need is a misting with water once a week — they don't even need a pot! (Sara Fraser/CBC)

She had done her homework and knew what plants she was looking for — something Meijer and Sweeney agree is common with today's young customers. 

'Added bonus'

People want the impact that a splash of living greenery gives in a photo — Meijer said customers have asked for plants with larger foliage.

Succulents and air plants in compact wall planters can add a touch of green even in small, poorly-lit spaces. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Houseplants have been good for business, too.

"What we've noticed is it's bringing people in the door of our greenhouse that we're not normally seeing until much later down the road, months from now," Meijer said. "And that's a really big added bonus for us — to get repeat customers coming back not only in June, maybe again in the fall, but through the winter too." 

Even the ubiquitous spider plant is enjoying renewed popularity. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Sweeney and Meijer agree the biggest mistake owners make when keeping houseplants is overwatering. Many plants can be watered just once a week and the soil can dry out between waterings. If watered too much, or if the drainage is not good (always choose a pot with a hole in the bottom), the roots can sit in water and rot, they say. 

Another common mistake is planting or repotting plants in a pot that is too big — rather than growing into the bigger pots, the plant will spread its roots too thinly. 

More P.E.I. news

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara has worked with CBC News in P.E.I. since 1988, starting with television and radio before moving to the digital news team. She grew up on the Island and has a journalism degree from the University of King's College in Halifax. Reach her by email at sara.fraser@cbc.ca.

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