It's always nice when millennials are given credit for supporting an industry, instead of being eternally blamed for killing everything from casual dining chains to diamond sales to the entire concept of napkins. So mad props to the National Gardening Association for acknowledging that particular demographic, and for praising their burgeoning interest in plant-care.
According to the association's most recent National Gardening Survey, the highest-ever number of 18- to 34-year-olds are now participating in "gardening activities," including raising indoor houseplants. As a result, retail sales in the lawn and garden category hit a new high of $47.8 billion last year, and per-household plant-related spending jumped by $100 to an average of $503.
"From small beginnings with a succulent here and a houseplant there, the under-35s are now truly engaged in the full range of gardening activities.” industry analyst and survey participant Ian Baldwin said.
Caelie Wilkes is one of those under-35s. She told VICE that two years ago, she was gifted a small potted succulent, which she has "loved" ever since. In a recent Facebook post, Wilkes shared two pictures of her plant-child, and praised it as being "overall perfect," with full leaves and a vibrant green color.
"I had it up in my kitchen window. I had a watering plan for it, if someone else tried to water my succulent I would get so defensive because I just wanted to keep good care of it," she wrote. "Today I decided it was time to transplant, I found the cutest vase that suited it perfectly. I go to pull it from the original plastic container it was purchased with to learn this plant was FAKE [...] It's sitting on Styrofoam with sand glued to the top! I feel like these last two years have been a lie."
First, this might be the pure content that we all need right now. Next, this is definitely the pure content we all need right now. Wilkes' online confession has almost 10,000 likes and has been shared more than 6,000 times. "It's just a silly story," she said. "But I’m finding most people can relate."
She's right. Although there have been some inevitable comments from internet edgelords who turn everything to garbage, most of the responses have been sweet and supportive. "I am sure the plant still loves you," one person wrote. "It’s a good story of a shining soul," another added.
On the bright side, Wilkes is now getting the chance to care for some real greenery: After her Facebook post made its way around the world, the Home Depot near her northern California home hooked her up with a half-dozen actual plants.
As for the fake succulent that started it all, Wilkes said that she's keeping it, too. "I figured I loved it for two years; why quit now?" she said.