- Can I Just Say -What Is A Plant Person?
My best friend texted me yesterday with a photo and an attached message. The photo was of her windowsill, perfectly framing four little potted plants. The message was, "I think I'm gonna try to become a plant person."
First of all, let's look into the origin of the term "plant person." It's impossible to know when the identity bloomed (sorry) into the millennial lexicon — though I suspect it was somewhere along the same timeline we decided to start tweeting "Some personal news!!!!" and taking online personality quizzes like "Who Are You In The Friend Group?". The need to announce you're in the live-action stage of becoming a plant person is no different that shamelessly wearing the "Late Friend" cap when you arrive to brunch 45 minutes late or boasting about how the only reason you're so moody is because you're a Gemini.
But what is a "plant person"? The fun answer to this is someone who morphs into a succulent every time there is a full moon. Or, like, Te Fiti from Moana. (Now, she is a plant person.)
However, life is rarely as simple as a Disney movie or Animorphs book. There are nuances to the plant people community.
Ian, another friend of mine (brag), is a true plant person. His apartment looks like a Rainforest Cafe, in the best way, even though you'll be hard pressed to leave without some type of potting soil on your pants. When we lived together in 2016, he introduced me to Mr. Plant, a Pothos that he had been caring for for three years prior to moving in together in a cramped West Village apartment. Mr. Plant had his ups and downs during our two year lease, and I'd often find myself showering with his branchy arms tickling my back during particularly DEFCON 5 levels of concern for his future. Mr. Plant even led Ian to drive to Los Angeles, versus fly, during his cross-country move in 2020. And when Ian moved back to New York, you bet Mr. Plant was sitting shotgun in the U-Haul van. Mr. Plant now resides happily in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and is a proud 9 years of age.
That's one type of plant person. Another is my mom, who spends the winters down in Florida with my dad. This past winter, they asked me to watch their money tree, which they've had for close to 10 years. This included me going to their house every other weekend and watering it while also collecting their mail and making sure no one had robbed them. Because the other two tasks felt so much grander and life-threatening than watering the money tree, I often forgot. OK, actually I forgot to water the money tree (which in my defense, lives in a room I never go into) for four full months. When my mom arrived back home, she called me and said, "I don't know what you did to this money tree, but it is thriving — never looked better." I didn't have the heart to tell her I didn't water it once, and that she, as "plant person," is a fraud.
However, the majority of self-described plant people are like my best friend who I dragged earlier in this piece. This is someone who feels the need to announce they're a plant person, someone who, realistically, got sent a subscription to The Sill or Bloomscape and decided, "Hey, this will become a fun personality trait for me until I forget to water this Snake Plant for months on end or my dog starts to eat away at the leaves or it starts to smell because it's rotting."
The idea of announcing to the world (or at least to your former high school classmates, co-workers, and aunt on Instagram) that you are becoming (or have become) a plant person is the distinguishing factor of what type of plant person you are. Because being a plant person isn't a bad thing. In fact, according to The Sill (who sells plants, and is probably a little biased) there are great benefits to living with plants. They "boost moods, productivity, concentration, and creativity; reduce stress and fatigue; clean indoor air by absorbing toxins, increasing humidity, and producing oxygen; add life to sterile spaces; and are therapeutic to care for." Who can argue against Big Plant?
So why are people becoming "plant people"? Maybe it has nothing to do with the plants themselves. Perhaps deciding on a new identity, especially as an earlyish-stage adult where you feel like you have little control over anything else happening in your life, is a moment of euphoria. A new identity presents itself with boundless opportunities. Opportunities to escape your current life full of stress, fatigue, and indoor toxins. After all, if you become a plant person, and take in more clean oxygen, chances are you'll probably also become a runner. (You love oxygen now!) Once you become a runner, and eventually sign up for that half marathon you've always dreamed of doing for the last three weeks, you'll need to invest in some good running shoes. The hunt for shoes then launches you into the sneakerhead community, or at the very least, into a very expensive addiction to Lululemon. In the short span of just one month, you've fully reinvented yourself, gained massive debt and years on to your life, all because you became a plant person.
Images: Paramount Pictures