Students find beauty and peace in plant trend


Photo by Nyaharika Rai.

In the last few years, owning an exorbitant number of houseplants has been a growing trend. The #urbanjungle hashtag on Instagram is proof of this, with nearly 3 million posts from users showing off their tropical plant-packed homes. But why are young people in particular so drawn to owning plants? While many do appreciate the aesthetic look of plants, they also find mental health benefits in plant parenthood.

Senior marine biology major Matthew Aiken is one of many young people who has turned their homes into miniature forests.

“People’s aesthetics have changed, and I think it goes along with being eco-friendly. That sort of clean and fresh image has become really popular. I love the jungle aesthetic honestly, and I hope it never dies, otherwise my house is going to go out of fashion real fast,” Aiken said.

Aiken owns more than 40 different plants and has a particular affinity for broadleaf and tropical plants, such as fiddle leaf fig plants. While he enjoys the aesthetic value of houseplants, he said there is also a big mental benefit to owning plants.

“I think taking care of something like that is just in itself therapeutic,” Aiken said. “It offers you some peace, especially when you’re a student and have so many things to do. It’s just a fun thing to help take your mind off things and be proud of, and it’s important to keep little things like that active in your life.”

Deborah Edwards, a sophomore public health and environmental biology double major, is another student who has joined in on the plant craze. Edwards said she particularly loves succulents and cacti because they are so easy to care for.

“I like to add greenery to my space, and I think they automatically brighten up a room and make it look nicer, especially if you don’t have much else in the room,” Edwards said.

But like Aiken, Edwards said she finds a mental benefit to owning plants and tending to them helps de-stress after a long day of class.

“It just makes me happy to have something to take care of. I like to actually see it grow, so all the effort that I put into them is something that I get to physically see through their growth,” Edwards said.

For those wishing to get into houseplants or wanting to add to their collection, Mike Garner, owner of Heritage Lawn and Garden Center in Hattiesburg, has many plant recommendations.

“The easiest plant in the whole world is the pothos. It’s a vine plant that requires very little attention and does good in low light. All you have to do is add some water and food once in a while,” Garner said.

He also recommends succulents, Chinese evergreen plants and snake plants, which are all easy to care for and great for beginners or those with busy schedules.

While the fad of having vibrant green homes may not last forever, it has introduced many people to the world of houseplants and what they have to offer.

“I do think it’s one of those things that will pass, but I think that people who really get something out of gardening will realize that that is what is helping them and will keep around plants,” Aiken said.