Here's Why Owning Plants Makes You More Attractive And A Better Partner

Who knew green things could be red hot?

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Lizzie La Barbera had worked at The Sill for a little over a year when she decided to take dating more seriously. She set up a profile and shared a few tidbits of personal information so anyone on the other end of a right-swipe could verify that she was a real human being. She added her age, then 27; her location, Brooklyn; and her job, merchandiser at The Sill, an online plant store and chain of plant nurseries. Before long, La Barbera was flooded with messages from interested matches, many of whom had one unsuspecting thing in common: They all wanted to talk plants.

Turns out, La Barbera may be among a growing faction of Gen Z and Millennial daters whose love of house plants makes them especially attractive to potential partners. In October 2021, home improvement agency CraftJack surveyed 1,111 house plant owners in the U.S., aged 18 - 68. Of those surveyed, ​​63% said they had added to their plant collection during the pandemic and 35% said other people’s house plant ownership was a serious turn-on.

The major dating apps reflect this data: Using its bio search tool, a researcher at Tinder found mentions of the terms “plant mom” and “plant dad” were up 15 and 30% respectively from this time last year, and both terms currently have more mentions in Tinder bios than at any point in 2020. Bios with the phrase “house plant” were also up 6%, while “plant parent” showed up 30% more this year than it had the year before.

At Bumble, “gardening” was one of the top 10 “Staying In” interests added by Gen Z and Millennial users in December 2021. And at Hinge, 62% of users who mention "plant" in their profile were between the ages 20 - 29.

La Barbera — who spends an hour each week tending to her nearly 40 plants and shines with a mother’s pride when she shows off her favorite ficus tineke — was happy to see so many plant-obsessed swipers out there, but felt a bit fatigued by all the work-related banter. “I would consistently get DMs from women being like, ‘Oh my god I love The Sill, what's your favorite plant?’” she tells Elite Daily. Ironically, it was the one match of hers who had never even heard of The Sill — and who didn’t yet own any house plants — who would eventually win her heart.

“My now-girlfriend of a year was the only person who was like, ‘Oh, that's cool. What's The Sill?’ And now I've gotten her into being a plant parent and she's thriving and has like a million plants,” she says.

What, you ask, did La Barbera bring her now-girlfriend as a gift on their very first date? A plant, of course. A pilea, or coin plant, to be specific — something cute and simple to kick off her soon-to-be flourishing home garden.

“I choose to think about the health of that plant as an indicator of the health of our relationship,” she says. “It was teeny tiny when I gave it to her, and now it's so big.”

Clearly, plants mean more to people than just decoration. But what makes plant lovers so darn attractive? What does that gorgeous fiddle leaf fig in the corner of your living room say about you as a person and a partner? We spoke to the experts to learn more about why owning house plants is the newest relationship green flag — and why taking care of plants helps you take better care of your relationships and yourself.

Caring For Plants May Reveal A Lot About Who You Are

Yes, your monstera wows your house guests and yes, your succulent collection looks great on Instagram. But owning and tending to house plants is often about so much more than pure aesthetics, and it can be an indicator of how you behave in relationships.

Seattle-based relationship, intimacy, and sex therapist Claudia Johnson says that, while plenty of non-plant-keepers have these qualities, plant ownership may subconsciously cue to potential partners that you have a certain maturity or put-togetherness, you’re open and vulnerable, you have integrity, you have respect for living creatures, and you’re nurturing.

“If you're a plant parent, it says you can care for something and you can take a risk on something,” La Barbera adds. “[It says] you're spending your time caring for something that is outside of yourself.”

Erin Marino, editorial lead at The Sill, says owning house plants can be an instinctual sign that someone is trustworthy. “People used to say back in the day, if you go into a doctor's office and the plants are dead, you should leave,” she jokes. “[We] interpret that someone who has plants and cares for them is a good person, someone who’s patient, likes nature, doesn't mind getting their hands dirty, and likes learning new things.”

Plants Are Good For You And Your Relationship

While scientists disagree about the air-purifying effects of house plants, there are plenty of benefits that come along with tending to a leafy friend or two. “Caring for plants and spending time in green spaces can improve your mood, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being in people of all ages,” Johnson says. Biophilia, which translates to “love of life” and is an increasingly popular term among the horticulturally inclined, is natural for humans who want to feel connected to something outside of themselves, especially nature.

“Contact with plants is an intuitive and nonverbal activity that can provide psychological stability and comfort,” Johnson explains. In other words, plants and nature are calming. Shocker.

La Barbera has felt this impact in her own life. “Plant care for me is super meditative,” she says. She reserves Tuesdays as her “watering days,” when she’ll roam around her apartment sprinkling nourishment on her plants, pruning them and dusting off dead leaves when necessary. For her, plant care is a form of self-care.

“Self-care is becoming less like, 'I did a face mask' and more, ‘I got outside today by walking my dog,’ or ‘I was in contact with nature,’” she says. And while a lot of self-care is, by its very definition, oriented toward the internal self, La Barbera finds some of the most impactful self-care activities — like caring for her plants — take her outside of herself. “It's such a restorative experience to think, ‘OK, five minutes a day, I'm going to think about caring for something else and watching something else grow because I tended to it, because I showed up.’”

For La Barbera, her house plants give her a sense of purpose on hard days when that external motivation is in short supply.

“Just being able to say I got out of bed today because my plants need me, because there's something literally dependent on me to water it, is sometimes enough at least to get me out of bed,” she says.

As for its impact on relationships with other humans, plant care can be downright romantic.

Los Angeles–based “plantfluencers” Jon Perdomo and his partner Jerrilyn Peralta (AKA @plantmanp and @therealplantladyp on IG) have been growing their relationship together — alongside a budding business and all their many house plants — since they met in 2016.

“When it comes to plants, Jerrilyn and I do everything together, from purchasing, to watering, pruning, repotting, and everything else in between,” Perdomo says. “This lets us slow down and take time out of our crazy days and just focus on something that makes us both happy. It’s become a real bonding thing.”

Plant Lovers Are Curious By Nature

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For La Barbera, as for a lot of people, there’s nothing sexier than a healthy curiosity. Plant ownership involves plenty of trial and error, and requires some ability to fail gracefully. To be able to rehabilitate losses, learn from past mistakes, and regularly try something new points to the endless reservoir of questions that the most dedicated plant keepers drink from.

“I've definitely had my failures with plants, but I always want to learn,” she says. “Someone who's willing to have a lot of them, learn about them, try taking care of them — that curiosity is very attractive to me. I don't care how many plants you have, if you only have one, just because you're interested in its growth, that says a lot about you as a person, looking outside yourself.”

Plants Are The New Pets, Which Are The New Babies

Pew released findings in May 2020 that showed Millennials were less likely to live with a family of their own (a spouse, one’s own children, or both) than previous generations were at the same life stage. Just over half of Millennial women had given birth, compared to 62% of Gen X women and 64% of Boomer women who were mothers between the ages 22 and 37. The number one reason was money — or lack thereof — according to a study done by personal finance company SoFi and reproductive health company Modern Fertility. Nearly two-thirds of respondents reported delaying having kids because of their financial situation.

In the absence of human children, Millennials and Gen Z are making smaller, more attainable investments in the form of house plants.

Some studies have found that one in seven millennials owns a house plant, while more than two-thirds of consumers of all ages report owning house plants. Of those consumers, those aged 13-24 were almost twice as likely as any other age group to say their primary purchasing reason was “the desire to care for something alive,” according to a Civic Science study from April 2020.

Marino sees these patterns play out in her own life and work at the Sill. “Plants [are] something that you could care for the growth of and pat yourself on the back for when maybe you weren't able to, like, hit a milestone of buying your first house,” she says, “because it's impossible and unaffordable and like, who can buy anything in Manhattan these days?”

Plants Bring People Together

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With so many young plant owners highlighting their leafy journeys on social media, dating apps, and through their work, it’s only natural for some romance to have sprouted from a shared affinity for greenery.

“Pre-COVID, we would have in-person workshops and events at our stores after hours and we'd start to see that here and there it could be someone's first date,” Marino says. “We were starting to see a lot of partners. It was interesting that this became, like, a date night option.” And even when the workshops turned virtual because of the pandemic, Marino says plenty of couples would sign-on together, too.

As climate change grows increasingly threatening each day, and as some of the last remaining wilderness areas are developed around the world, house plants offer some kind of relationship to the natural earth, no matter how small — one that so many people appear to be craving. And together, surrounded by philodendrons and bunny ears cacti, they nurture a piping hot love for the natural world, and for each other.


Claudia Johnson, relationship, intimacy, and sex therapist

Erin Marino, editorial lead at The Sill

Jon Perdomo, plantfluencer

Lizzie La Barbera, merchandiser at The Sill

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