Houseplants: do we really need them?

The Leaside Gardener: Debora Kuchme

Horticultural Design storefront.
Horticultural Design storefront.

This long and cold winter has kept me indoors more than I’m used to and caused my annual spring fever to kick in earlier. A bunch of fresh tulips usually calms me down, but not this year. Being stuck indoors has made me aware of how few houseplants I now have. A single orchid in my living room and one big Clivia in the dining room. How did my once large collection of indoor plants dwindle down to only this?

I spoke with Michael Renaud of Horticultural Design on Bayview Ave. He has been providing Leasiders with the best selection of quality houseplants for more than 25 years. He says, “After the holiday décor is removed, I find clients crave greenery to fill those spaces.” He suggests adding some natural fragrance with hyacinths, primulas and lilies or tropical woody plants such as jasmine, gardenia or citrus. “All will surround you with their natural perfume.”

Yes, natural fragrance; everyone needs that and it looks like I’m not the only one craving green. If you are too, there’s a good chance that you’re not surrounding yourself with enough plants either. But why? Countless studies have proven that plants have a profound effect on our physical and mental well-being and this becomes obvious the minute you walk through the door of Horticultural Design. The visual splendour of seeing a vast display of beautiful plants and inhaling the comforting scent of soil connects you to something much bigger…the connection to nature.

With that in mind, how could houseplants ever become a victim of design trends? Yet for so many years, houseplants were treated like accessories. Sometimes in and sometimes out. This one’s hot and that one’s not.

Michael has been in business long enough to have seen many trends come and go. But now, he says, “There’s a new appreciation of plants from the younger generation using houseplants to both beautify and detoxify their interior spaces and finding new ways to grow their own food.”

A North American survey suggests that the millennials are drawn more and more to house plants — partly as a result of living in apartments, partly because of their interest in sustainability. In the past few years millennials have taken houseplants to a new level, surpassing even the last big houseplant craze of the 1970s. This group is more food-conscious and more environmentally-conscious than any other demographic, and last year purchased more houseplants and locally grown food to prove it.

Most began their plant connection with succulents and cacti as an easy and foolproof living entity to nurture but quickly moved on to experiment with more demanding plants. Today, they post their vast collections on Instagram inspiring each other with their latest finds. They’re creating new ideas and finding new ways to fill their need of green with their unlimited imaginations.

Well, they managed to inspire me too and it’s time for me to bring some more plants into my world because what this long winter and the millennials have taught me is that we really do need houseplants.

Here’s to indoor gardening!

Got pictures of your indoor beauties? Send them to us and we’ll post on social media.

About Debora Kuchme 65 Articles
After a 30-year career as a fashion designer, Debora worked at Horticultural Design for over a decade. Now with her concerns about climate change, she hopes to help local gardeners find positive solutions for a greener and healthier neighbourhood. As a board member of the Bayview Leaside BIA, she created the Bayview Pixies, a volunteer group introducing sustainable gardening practice to Bayview.