Recently, I saw an article on The Independent entitled ‘Millennials are obsessed with house plants because they can’t afford kids’ and that was enough to send my brain into a frenzy. Is that really why I’m eyeing up every cactus I see? Because it’s the next best thing after having a child?
The author of the article, Kashmira Gander, made the very good point that when stability seems so far away at university, house plants make a shared house feel more like a home for those in it. For me personally, it has only been in the past year or so that I have been enlightened to the beautiful world of house plants and all the advantages that accompany them. I really enjoy having some form of responsibility as a student which a house plant can gladly provide. I’m well aware that It’s not the same level of responsibility as having a 3-year-old running around my feet and screaming, but it is entirely my responsibility to keep the plant alive.
She also claims that millennials are living in a ‘suspended childhood’. We have children later in our lives, we have less secure and stable jobs and few of us are able to own property. Again, she does address that this is not our fault but I also recently heard of the acronym ‘DINK’ which stands for Double Income, No Kids. It is becoming more likely for people of our generation to move in with a partner and both keep our full-time jobs, hence the double income, and due to this, we don’t have children. This proves that we often reach for house plants because the natural next step that we have been forced to expect can’t happen and this is the next best thing.
In the US, the 2016 National Gardening Report found that of the six million Americans new to gardening, five million of those were aged between 18-34. This shows us that this recent plant obsession is clearly a more global thing and is definitely not exclusive to UK students. This cactus-trend has spread to not only the Discover page on your Instagram but to so many different forms of products from duvet covers to candles and even tattoos!
In the majority of student housing, landlords are a firm no on having pets – which breaks my heart – but this proves that house plants are the best thing we have for the moment. Catherine Cottney, a global trends manager, claimed that ‘Tending to a plant gives millennials a chance to take a break from their screens and connect with something tangible in the ‘real world’.’ This is the stuff I hate. The patronising use of the word ‘millennials’ and the generic claim that we don’t have lives outside of the internet. I understand what she means, that plants allow us to care for something because there aren’t many other similar opportunities for us to have a lot of responsibility. However, our need to care for things is not because we live on our phones, did it not occur to people that it might be something that we enjoy? Or that caring for the plant could be, for some, a down-side to the beauty of plants? Some people may simply want a cactus because it looks good on their Insta feed and not because they have some Freudian complex about not being able to have children.
The care for plants is clearly completely different to the care needed for a child. The popularity of cacti is likely to be because of the low maintenance care that it needs.
There’s a lot more that I have to say on this topic but I’ll have to wait to be offered a book deal because otherwise, this article will be 8000 words long. However, my favourite thing that Kashmira said in her article was that a cactus in 2017 is the equivalent of having a chihuahua in the mid-noughties.