Get Your Biome On

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The Sill sells ceramic planters, watering cans, misters with arch sayings on them, fertilizer and soil mixes, totes and T-shirts. It also hosts movie nights, “sip and shop” cocktail parties and workshops (in store and online). Credit Nathan Bajar for The New York Times

Thanks to Penelope Green for brightening up our Sunday:

Meet the Plantfluencers

In a world of climate change, creating a biome of one’s own.

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Eliza Blank has conceived The Sill as a plant lifestyle company, or a global plant brand — a Glossier of plants. Credit Nathan Bajar for The New York Times

Horticulture and red wine were served up the other night at the Sill, a boutique on Hester Street, as Christopher Satch, a botanist wearing a T-shirt that read, “Plants Make People Happy,” the company motto, led a workshop on carnivorous plants.

It was plant stand-up — slightly blue patter with quick takes on Linnaeus and Darwin; binomial nomenclature (note the shape of the Venus fly trap for cues to how it got its name); detailed care instructions (carnivorous plants evolved in acidic bogs, which means they need distilled water, not tap, and lots of it); and a show-and-tell of Mr. Satch’s collection of butterworts and sundews.

Plant2Among the rapt attendees were Madison Steinberg and Lindsay Reisman, both 23 and working in public relations, and Brayan Poma, also 23, who works in construction; afterward they each took home an attractive tropical pitcher plant. “I like plants, but I kill so many of them,” said Mr. Poma, who wore a green hoodie and a goatee. “Maybe that’s why I find them so alluring.”

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The Sill began when Ms. Blank was trying to brighten up her sunless, sixth-floor walk-up with a plant or two, and was turned off by the wares at Home Depot, one of the few sources for plants and containers in the city. Credit Nathan Bajar for The New York Times

Mr. Poma is not the only millennial to feel that allure. Buoyed by Instagram, his generation’s obsession with houseplants is growing faster and more tenaciously than English ivy. Plant influencers, the horticultural stars of that medium, now have book deals, sponsors and hundreds of thousands of followers.Their apartment living rooms are the new urban jungles, spilling over with philodendrons, pilea (this year’s “It” plant) and bird’s nest ferns. Plant parents, as they call themselves, fuss over their plant babies with the attention once given to kimchi or coffee connoisseurship. (Such anthropomorphism — ironic though it may be — recalls the 1970s, when “The Secret Life of Plants” proposed plant sentience based on dubious science and convinced New Agers to chat up their spider ferns.)

Unlike George Orwell, these houseplant lovers see the lowly aspidistra as an aspirational totem, not a bourgeois cliché, and post money shots of their monsteras on #monsteramonday. That hashtag was propagated in 2016 by Morgan Doane, a director of analytics for an art company in Florida.

The same year, Ms. Doane, 37, bonded with another plant enthusiast over Instagram: Erin Harding, 39, a blogger and social media marketer who lives in Oregon. The two started sending each other plant cuttings in the mail.

Their joint account, Houseplantclub, is now an Instagram sensation, with over 450,000 followers and regular entreaties from corporate suitors — makers of cactus watches, succulent jewelry and macramé pot hangers, among others — to feature their wares. Late last month, they published their first book, “How to Raise a Plant and Make It Love You Back.”

That’s not to be confused with “How to Make a Plant Love You: Cultivating Your Personal Green Space,” out next year, by Summer Rayne Oakes, a 34-year-old activist, nature blogger and fashion model with degrees in environmental science and entomology who lives with some 700 plants in her Brooklyn apartment.

Ms. Oakes may be the original plant influencer: In 2012, the makers of the Toyota Prius designed the subcompact Prius C with Ms. Oakes in mind (the company described her as an “active eco-optimist”) and created a paint color in her name.

Boyswithplants, with over 95,000 followers, offers a different sort of inspiration, found in beefcake photos of young men (some of whom also happen to be influencers, botanical and otherwise) posing with their plants. The account will migrate from Instagram into a book of the same name, out from Chronicle Books next spring.

Last year, nearly a quarter of houseplant sales were made by those between the ages of 18 and 34, according to Gardenresearch.com. Plant industry marketers, like Garden Media, call them the Indoor Generation, noting they are overwhelmingly renters in urban areas with little or no access to yards, and deeply aware of the physical and mental benefits of living with plants (cleaner air, for example)…

Read the whole article here.

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