The outdoors is coming in. From boutique shops to mass retailers, bars to gourmet restaurants, everywhere you look across the country, there’s a bit of greenery gracing the space. In the increasingly experiential retail landscape, business owners and entrepreneurs have tapped into the tangible benefits of bringing plants into their stores and eateries.
As you’ll likely remember from biology class, plants have physical benefits they bring to any space. That’s why we’re trying to save the trees, right? They help oxygenate, humidify and cleanse the air, helping us to be more attentive, focused and productive. But there are other reasons that plants make for excellent physical additions to a brick and mortar space too. Plants lower stress of those in their atmosphere, and there’s a scientific consensus that they somehow make us feel happy. It’s certainly one easy way to leave customers feeling better than when they walked in.
There’s a primal attraction to them that we feel, as for millennia plants have been responsible for providing us with food, fuel and medicine. They also make excellent interior design elements, much more so than flowers, which feel comparatively staid, safe and quickly wilt. Plants have long been used as relatively inexpensive focal points for an indoor environment, adding color and a compelling visual element to a room — like a living, breathing sculpture.
In this age of the all-important aesthetic, a few great plants can go a long way to bringing life and warmth to a manmade shell. They have an innate ability to increase ambience, and create a sense of place with their steady rustic charm. Moreover, they provide an unmatched practicality. Plants can be used to mask unsightly design elements and absorb sound, making a huge impact on a space’s acoustics.
A green thumb has long been a sign of a nurturing personality, and this idea can translate to a business too. Whether a few flourishes of greenery, or a veritable urban jungle, thriving life in your store or restaurant can implicitly signal to customers a commitment to care, attentiveness and comfort. This idea was taken and fleshed out to the extreme in a recent Washington Post article about Gen-Y-ers tending plants to fill a void in their hearts.
Refreshing as it may be for millennials to be credited with bringing life rather than the mass slaughter of established industries usually attributed to them, the exact genesis of the indoor plant trend is impossible to trace. Humans have been keeping leafage in their homes for millennia. Everybody can recall a dusty spider plant at a relative’s house, or has seen a Christmas tree. But plants have surely never been this fashionable before.
The sudden bloom of interior vegetation could be attributed to many things. People are increasingly conscious of the role of plants in their diets, and the relearning of other positive effects they offer seems to be a natural progression. It could be the reintroduction of plant and nature prints to the highest fashion runways, or an instinctive longing for greenery previously unfulfilled in people’s progressively urban lifestyles. Maybe we need those calming effects plants provide in these increasingly stressful times. Most likely, it’s a combination of all these things.
If you’re ready to grow your business’ plant game, here are some tips to get started:
Work with your lighting
The single biggest factor in deciding what plants to grace your space with is what kind of light they’ll get. The most beautiful plant is a healthy one, but each of them are different, and so are their needs — they’re living things and should be treated as such. Some local independent plant stores deliver and install plants, but all of them can advise on what would thrive in your space.
Don’t fear Ikea
Seriously, if any living thing can survive in the basement of Ikea, it’s going to be next to impossible to kill. Obviously, you should support a fellow local business whenever possible, but boutique plant stores can get pricey quickly. Ikea’s range of live plants runs impressively wide, from hardy ferns to tropical palms, and plenty of mid-sized options between.
The pot makes the plant
Plant pots offer a way to tie your new greenery further into your space, by picking aesthetically complimentary and visually interesting planters. Vintage planters of unusual vessels can elevate a plant from a collection of leaves to a design statement, but as always, bear in mind the plant’s needs. Choose one an appropriate size for the plant’s root system, and be prepared to repot it in a larger home if things go well.
Play with levels
Like any other decorative element, playing with levels can make a big difference. The height of your plants and the placement of them can both contribute to the expansiveness or intimacy of a space. Dangly ivies placed up high, impressive trees anchoring a space, and delicate small plants dotted around — they all have something to contribute. The juxtaposition of different kinds will make a space feel its most lush.
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