UK: Planting the seeds for good mental health

Staff
6 Min Read

“We’ve seen a significant rise in house plant sales over the last four years,” says Freddie Heathcote, co-owner of New Covent Garden Flower Market wholesaler Green and Bloom. “We live in a huge metropolis and the demographic of the city is changing – younger people are getting onto the property ladder but don’t necessarily have a garden or open space, so they visit New Covent Garden Market to purchase their plants so they can have a connection with nature.”

Enhancing mood and improving self-esteem
It’s now an established fact that plants and trees are beneficial to mental health, playing a part in enhancing mood, improving self-esteem, and lowering blood pressure. Research in Holland and Japan indicates people are more likely to walk or cycle to work if the streets were lined with trees and live longer and feel better as a result. “Everyone knows that plants are great from a psychological point of view,” says Freddie. “They’re also good for the home environment, as they aid oxygenation.”

Housing boom accelerates plant sales
Raised awareness of the benefits of being green-fingered is one of the factors in the house plant sales, alongside London’s housing boom. The demographic of our Flower Market’s walk-in trade has become steadily younger, with an influx of young people visiting on Saturdays looking for house plants, accelerated by the growth in home ownership schemes such as shared ownership, and the huge number of apartments built across the Nine Elms area. There’s also speculation that millennials are buying plants due to a yearn to ‘look after’ somethings, especially as people are becoming parents later in life.

“The rise in sales goes back to before the pandemic, when shops selling house plants and selected lifestyle products first established themselves, explains Freddie. “Every florist and design shop was selling house plants and there are plenty of these shops still seeing strong sales in all of the trendy up-and-coming areas. Then you had very successful e-commerce businesses such as Patch Plants, who we supplied for the first couple of years. They were an important factor in capturing the market at the right time, offering online delivery direct to the customer’s home – which was perfect for young professionals who were time poor.”

A mission to look for distinctive plants
Freddie adds: “Demand has changed a lot over the last few years as the trend has gone upwards – for example 75 per cent of Patch Plants’ sales were concentrated on just five lines of house plant. But the standard range diversified and that became my mission to bring in new and interesting products. Eventually these exotic plants become the norm and at Green and Bloom we’ve continued to look for plants that are a little special and more distinctive. The demand is passed on from the customer to the wholesalers like us, and we’ll work with growers to meet the ever-increasing new demands.”

So what are the best-selling plants and is there a pattern emerging? “For a long time, varieties of Calathea were one of our best sellers and they are still really popular,” explains Freddie. “Monstera [cheese plants] have been a staple favourite for years, as they’re very easy to look after and give a property a unique look as visually it’s a really interesting plant.”

Demand for larger specimen plants
House plants are now a cornerstone of interior design, with many businesses, especially hotels and restaurants, incorporating plants and hanging baskets as a major part of their design process. “We’ve seen the demand for the larger specimen plants translate into sales in a big way off the back of the interior design boom, and long may it continue,” says Freddie. “The pandemic had a big impact on wholesalers like us as people wanted to buy houseplants as their access to green spaces was restricted. As Garden Centres were the first retailers to re-open after lockdown it created a mini-boom that we were happy to capitalise on. Thanks to that initial surge, plants sales are now as strong as they’ve even been and continue to be a popular choice.”

Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 runs between Monday 13th to Sunday 19th May
This year’s theme is “Movement: Moving more for our mental health.”. Regular movement not only benefits our bodies but also positively impacts our mental health by releasing “feel good” hormones and improving sleep. You can find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 here.

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