LOS ANGELES — First-time plant parents love low-maintenance pothos and sansevieria because they are easy, but what about fussy staples like orchids and fiddle-leaf figs? It should come as no surprise that many of the people who bonded with their houseplants while stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic are now looking to elevate their plant collections.
That’s just one of the Instagram-ready trends that LA’ plantfluencers predict for 2021.
“Many people grew their overall plant collections in 2020, and now I think the experience of caring for all those plants has helped many home in on the plants that are best for their lifestyle, skills and home environment,” said Danae Horst of Folia Collective in Eagle Rock. “Now there will be a focus on adding new species in those genera.”
Erin Marino, brand director at the Sill, said the plant company experienced increased traffic and sales due to the pandemic. “When we polled one of our plant Facebook groups in the fall of 2020, almost 50% of respondents said they were brand new to houseplants this year — while an additional 20% said although they weren’t new to plants, their enthusiasm and collection grew significantly in 2020.”
It wasn’t just the Sill. Despite the limitations of curbside pickup and social distancing, independent garden centers experienced increased sales during the pandemic. A spokesman for Costa Farms, one of the largest producers of indoor plants in the United States, said the wholesaler has been selling plants at a pace that’s hard to keep up with. “We are trying our best to figure out how much of the demand we’re seeing will stick and how much will fade as the world starts to go back to normal,” said Justin Hancock.
Whether neon, architectural, miniature or gothic black, the latest trends, and hottest houseplants, are a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. A look at what to expect in 2021:
1. Plants as therapy
As the pandemic continued and people stayed home, Americans turned to their plants for reassurance.
“Plants make people happy, and more people than ever are realizing that caring for them is bringing them joy,” said Bloomscape plant expert Joyce Mast. “Plus they’re accessible for people of all experience levels and a good addition to homes as we spend more time working from home.”
Annette Gutierrez, co-owner of Potted, said that at times she feels like a therapist. “We had one woman come in yesterday who brought her plant in as if it were a child. She was so distraught because the plant kept wilting and not thriving. We had a therapy session, and she left feeling like less of a failure and armed with a little more knowledge and support. I love seeing how people are connecting with each other regarding their plant problems and successes. Maybe that’s the trend: plants as emotional support decor.”
2. Going gothic
Many experts predicted Costa Farms’ Raven ZZ plant would be the hot houseplant of 2020, but it hasn’t been available in California — until now. The slow grower has a striking, gothic look with bright green growth that matures to a rich, purple-black hue. A spokesman for Costa Farms, which has the exclusive rights to produce and sell the plant, said the rare ZZ, a popular topic on Reddit, will be shipping to California stores that purchase its Trending Tropicals collection. If gothic is not your thing, Costa Farms reports that Scindapsus treubii ‘Moonlight’ is already a popular choice for 2021.
3. The supermodel
Pink is alive and well, especially in high-maintenance plants Gutierrez likes to call “supermodel” plants (gorgeous but difficult): calatheas and Chinese evergreen ‘Pink Valentine.’ “Pink plants, in general, are huge right now,” she said.
Last year, Bloomscape’s top-selling plant was the mini money tree, which is purported to bring positive energy and good luck to the owner. Look for other miniatures to trend this year, including string-of-pearls, happy bean and petite terrarium plants.
5. Virtual workshops
Because of the pandemic, several plant stores have been forced to host virtual classes and workshops in place of in-person events. Felix Navarro of the Juicy Leaf hosts regular potting classes on Instagram. Bloomscape’s Rookie Plant Care class often has as many as 70 participants. The Sill’s workshops were extremely popular last year — the store even hosted an astrology night with plant pairings — and served as a “great way to stay connected to our customers,” according to Marino.
6. Edible plants
Thanks to the allure of growing your own food, edible plants will continue to grow in popularity as people continue to spend time at home, said Mast. Many herbs, including common culinary herbs such as basil and oregano, can be grown on a kitchen windowsill, as long as you have about four to six hours of sunlight. Some hybrids, such as Bloomscape’s micro tomato plant, are designed to be grown indoors in your kitchen or on a sunny windowsill.
7. Rare plant boom
Rare plants and smaller terrarium species will continue to captivate plant fans, as they allow owners “to have the ‘look’ but keep things manageable sizewise (you can pack a terrarium with plenty of different plants without taking a lot of space),” said Leaf and Spine owner Dustin Bulaon. “There’s a big trend for high-humidity plants, especially with the aid of the Ikea Milsbo cabinets that people are customizing to create mini greenhouse/terrariums. Expect hoyas to continue to be popular with collectors and the succulent stapeliads, which are prized for their unique flowers.”
8. Neon is in
Neon plants will make a big splash in spring and throughout summer, according to Jaime Curtis of Greenwood Shop in Valley Village. “Neon pothos, neon cordatum and Dracaena fragrans ‘Limelight’ as well as the more exotic plants like the philodendron ‘Prince of Orange’ or ‘Florida Ghost’ will be in high demand.”
Plant propagation will be particularly big in the next year as many first-time plant owners perfect their horticultural skills. “I think as people understand their environments better, they will get more into propagating the plants they have and sharing them with friends,” said Curtis. “When we are all vaccinated and can see each other again, I expect a ton of plant swaps and prop parties to happen, and hope to host them here as well!”
10. Ficus, modernized
Look for Ficus altissima and Ficus benghalensis to replace the popular but finicky Ficus lyrata, otherwise known as fiddle-leaf fig. “I feel they’ve been so ubiquitous for the past 10 years that designers are starting to shy away from using them for fear their work will look dated,” said interior designer Orlando Soria.
11. Zoom staging
It used to be that plants set the stage for offices. Now they set the stage for Zoom meetings, classes and video calls that can land you on Twitter accounts like Room Rater. Because our homes have become our offices, several stores, including Plants.com and the Sill, now offer plants specifically for the home office.
12. The weirder the better
A big way to make a statement is with plants, and according to Mickey Hargitay of Mickey Hargitay Plants, the weirder the better. “People are now appreciating the unique exposed stems and the curves and bends that are created with age,” he said. “Lush and fresh off the truck is still in high demand, but more and more we are seeing customers looking for something with a little more architectural charm.” Philodendron varieties, anthuriums and the black olive (Bucida buceras) also are popular right now. “These are not an easy plant to care for, and they are pretty expensive, but people are still insisting on taking one home,” Hargitay said. “They have that sparse architectural look to them.”