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How to find the houseplant to suit your lifestyle

The Sill founder and CEO Eliza Blank pots houseplants.  Courtesy The Sill

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This week, Marketplace Weekend is all about life after college. In our series, “Graduating into the Economy,” we have stories and advice for recent grads — everything from career and credit basics to dream outfits, houseplants and homes.

Gardening is not your grandmother’s hobby anymore. According to the 2016 National Gardening Survey, five million out of the six million people who took up gardening in 2015 were millennials. One in three households grow something edible at home and cities are carving out spaces for community gardens and greenery. 

It’s all part of a very green trend: check Instagram and you’ll find selfies in front of collections of lush plants. Accounts devoted to houseplants and gardening have hundreds of thousands of followers.

One company is cashing in on the hipness of houseplants : online plant retailer, The Sill. CEO Eliza Blank started the company in 2012 on a bootstrap budget and at first, delivered plants only in New York City. But soon after, The Sill began shipping nationwide, tapping into a new enthusiasm for a billion-dollar-a-year industry. 

Blank said that the market was ready to shop online for plants. While the garden store industry hasn’t changed much in the past few decades — you can still head to stores like Lowes and Home Depot to pick up houseplants, herbs and vegetables — the way people shop has transformed. 

About 44 percent of The Sill’s customers are millennials. The company has clearly carved out a niche for new gardeners. Millennials flock to cities with fewer green spaces, and often live in apartments or smaller homes than previous generations.

Blank says there’s a plant for every person, budget and lifestyle. Here are a few of our favorites:


For grow-in-the-dark easiness

Do you live in a dimly lit apartment with a window looking onto a brick wall? Do you work all day and want to water something no more than once a week?You need a “ZZ” plant. Zamioculcas zamiifolia, ZZ for short, is a member of the philodendron family, and it does well in the dark. The biggest threat to a ZZ is too much water, so take it nice and easy. 


For the person with the reputation for killing houseplants

A post shared by Airplants! (@airplantlovers) on

If you’ve killed your fair share of orchids and even succulents, you may want to look into an air plant. These little plants can be hung decoratively, or placed on surfaces or  in terrariums. All you need to keep air plants happy is lots of indirect light (or a fluorescent bulb) and a once-a-week misting.


For those who want to see the fruits of their plant-caretaking labor

A post shared by Capra Designs (@capradesigns) on

Blank’s favorite houseplant at the moment is the philodendron, a fast-growing plant with large, heart-shaped leaves. You can grow philodendron almost anywhere except in bright light, and it’s a resilient plant — Blank says it’s almost impossible to kill, even if it’s suffering.


For those who want to make their Instagram followers jealous

If you’re looking for the plant to boost your image, you may want to consider Monstera. This large-leaved plant is native to tropical rainforests, and its leaves do a special trick; as they grow larger, gaps or “windows” form to let light down to new leaves below. The result is a beautiful and on-trend houseplant that does well in the shade.

Happy planting!

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