Chattanooga ‘plant parents’ say indoor gardening fuels their desire to nurture

Indoor gardening – playfully dubbed “plant parenting” by some – is in full bloom. The human desire to nurture living things is deeply rooted in our DNA, and frankly, it seems to be satisfied by tending to people, pets, or even plants.

Getting into the gardening trend isn’t that difficult. You can start with a $4.99 snake plant from Barn Nursery, as Cole Webster, Marketing and Sales Manager suggests, or you can go for something more expensive and more maintenance-intensive, like a Bird of Paradise plant, which requires more care.

For Cath Truelove, owner of Market Street’s Bees on a Bicycle garden center, parenting plants is “the attraction [to] something sweet[and] It’s about “taking responsibility for liking bite-sized portions.”

Photo courtesy of Cath Truelove / The interior of Market Street’s Bees on a Bicycle garden center is bursting with life.

And as the New York Times noted in a 2018 article on the trend, being a plant parent is “much less work than raising real kids or caring for pets, besides you have the benefit of adding vibrancy to your home and the pride that comes with each new bloom.”

The manageable commitment is appealing, as is the challenge of keeping plants alive, say plant lovers.

“I feel like everyone collects something,” says Chloe Watts, manager of Chattanooga’s Botanica, a plant store on Market Street. “But it’s more of a challenge to collect something that you also have to keep alive. You learn. Each plant grows differently and you have to learn its specific care.”

Chattanoogan Nicole Griffin says she started collecting plants about two and a half years ago. She says she likes to feel like her space is a jungle. She has a wide window in her apartment to display everything from aloe vera to Alocasia “Dragon Scale” to her turtle plant, whose leaves look like tiny turtle shells.

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Photo courtesy of Jo Kibble/Nicole Griffin started collecting plants over two years ago and says she loves the feel they give to her apartment.

Griffin says she’ll sometimes bring friends over and take them on what she calls “the factory tour.” And like many plant parents, Griffin likes to post about his plants on Instagram, which has become a hub for the plant parent community.

Known as “plant influencers,” the online community shares care tips, plant pest information, essential plant accessories like humidifiers and more.

Amanda Bonnington, who has more than 150 plants in her home — including an entire room dedicated to tropical plants — says she learned most of what she knows about plants through Instagram.

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Photo courtesy of Amanda Bonnington/Amanda Bonnington has a room in her house dedicated specifically to her tropical plants.

Truelove says social media and the pandemic have created greater cultural awareness around plants and nature. While some just like to have something pretty to look at, according to Scientific American, plants are known to boost creativity and reduce negative emotions, making them an effective tool for self-care.

Indeed, Botanica’s Watts says she’s found herself struggling emotionally throughout the pandemic – until she picked up her houseplant hobby again and started working with plants for his work. His mood quickly improved.

“Just being outdoors or indoors working with plants or being around plants affects your brain,” says Watts. “There’s just something about it.”