Survey Says: The Younger Generation Digs Gardening

Posted on Sep 25, 2019
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A few of the 50 happy. healthy plants in my San Diego home.

A few of the 50 happy. healthy plants in my San Diego home.

When you think about gardening, do you picture your grandmother tending her rose garden? Maybe a retired neighbor mowing his lush lawn?

According to the National Gardening Survey, the typical gardener and plant enthusiast is much younger and isn’t living in the suburbs.

In the 2019 version of this annual survey presented every year at the American Horticulture Association’s Cultivate conference (which I attend every single year), 38 percent of adults age 18 to 34 plan to spend more on lawn and garden activities in 2019, compared to the overall average of 29 percent for all age groups.

Yes, plants are trending and cool and we could not be happier at Good Earth Plant Company!

The 18 to 34-year-old age group, which covers all but the oldest Millennials and older Generation Z people over age 17, account for a quarter of estimated garden spending. What makes this number impressive is that this group has a lower household income than older age groups. So they are prioritizing their spending to include plants and nature!

Surrounded by some of my 50 plants at home. Some of us Baby Boomers love our plants just as much as our Millennial friends!

They are also more likely to live in an apartment or condominium in an urban environment. Household participation in garden activities among younger households has grown at a higher rate than others since 2014.

Overall, American gardeners reported spending a record $47.8 billion on lawn and garden retail sales, the highest ever, with a record average household spend of $503 – up nearly $100 over the previous year.  One-third of this comes from 18 to 34-year-olds.

Container gardening set new sales records, too Since many of these gardening enthusiasts don’t have the typical suburban back yard or much of any yard at all, they’re pursuing their hobby on a smaller scale – and it’s mostly indoors. They love small succulents and cacti in decorative pots.

Indoor gardening is growing like crazy. Thirty percent of all households bought at least one houseplant in the past year. It reminds me so much of the days when I first started Good Earth Plants with a downtown flower and plant stand in the 1970s. Back then, it seemed like everybody had plants in macramé hangers or in interesting flea market containers.  Sure, we thought they looked super cool. But they were also an inexpensive way to decorate and fill up a room. I practice this interior design style today. I have nearly 50 plants of various sizes in my living room.

Incorporate plants into your home as design elements. A room divider is one of my favorites.

Incorporate plants into your home as design elements. A room divider is one of my favorites.

Here we are in 2019 and macramé is everywhere. It’s been a hot trend at nearly every industry conference I’ve attended over the past few years. I never would have predicted this 40 years ago!

Millennials and their younger Generation Z friends get a lot of grief for their behavior, especially from Baby Boomer types like me. But we can learn a LOT from them when it comes to being more connected to nature and our planet.

We could just as easily call Millennials the Biophilic Generation. Millennials see the harm being done by our fossil fuel oriented, disposable society. They want to live in a world with healthier choices for themselves and the earth. Part of this is driven by necessity due to the threat of climate change and overwhelming plastic pollution. But it’s also driven by biophilia – our innate human connection with nature.

Any room can be improved with plants – yes, even the bathroom. Photo: Nathalie Cone/Pixabay – Creative Commons

Millennials are now leading by necessity a worldwide push to bring nature back into their lives. While not all of them can completely give up their cars or lead a worldwide march like 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, our younger generations desire more natural and organic surroundings. They are doing what they can in even a small way by creating space and time for nature in their lives. This includes cultivating indoor plants and small gardens, along with their consumption choices.

The Baby Boomers aren’t going to be running things much longer – and thank goodness. We haven’t treated Mother Earth too well, and the people inheriting these problems know they’ll have to find the solutions. The biophilic movement is here to stay and this Boomer has been all about it for more than 40 years!

Surrounded by some of my 50 plants at home! Jim Mumford Good Earth Plant Company houseplants indoor plants

Surrounded by some of my 50 plants at home. This Baby Boomer is just as excited about plants as my Millennial friends!

One more statistic jumped out at me from this survey. Millennial households have high levels of interest in cultivating legal cannabis as part of their gardening activities. Nearly half of them, nearly 36 million U.S. residents, say they would grow some type of cannabis if it were legal in their state. Right now, about 20 percent of them don’t own any plants or do any gardening. I see some wonderful irony in cannabis becoming the gateway plant to a lifetime of gardening as a hobby.

I predict the indoor grow lights being researched and created by the vast amount of money in the cannabis industry produces future lights anyone can use to more successfully grow edible plants inside. We’re keeping an eye on this.

If you want help getting back to nature with plants in your home or office, give us a call at Good Earth Plant Company at 858-576-9300. We are at your service.