For 21of21, GOOGLE SHOPPING and PAPER came together to break down some of the most memorable shopping moments of 2021 based on Google's trending search data. This was the year everyone in the US decided to experiment with their green thumb, with Google search interest for "plant store near me” reaching an all-time high in May of this year. There was also Google search interest for “pink princess philodendron,” which hit an all-time high in the US in April.
2020 was the year I finally learned how to take care of my plants.
In the Before Times, as we now call them, I could barely keep a succulent alive. As a workaholic (Virgo moon), I would work 50+ hour work weeks that extended to the weekends or late at night. I couldn’t be at a party or dinner without checking my emails. I traveled for work frequently, which meant my plants were often expected casualties during my extended periods of premeditated burnout.
Last year I left my job, deleted Slack, got a therapist and took a lot of time off. I was finally gonna start working on the thing I’d been putting off for decades: myself.
Self-work is a slow burn, especially if you’re used to soothing the pains of trauma, anxiety and loneliness with a pathological need to be productive. In a lot of ways, being a workaholic was self-medicating, so what do you think happened when I cut my meds cold turkey? Well, I went through a nasty withdrawal.
Unmotivated, depressed, filled with a cacophony of new mental aches and pangs I’d never really paid attention to before, my body started to take its life back and it throbbed at a cardiovascular level. But for the first time in adulthood, I was still. I searched far and wide for things to take up my time: Swimming, screenwriting, learning ASL, I even started reading for fun! But where I really found myself thriving was plant care. I now have 26(!) little green daughters that need my attention. And for the first time, I know what they need.
As I’ve grown to learn about myself, I’ve found an ontological quality to the ways my plants call me out at times as some of my greatest teachers. In the hopes of evangelizing plant-based self-work, here are some hard truths about yourself based on your plant — or plants — of choice.
It’s possible you have some codependency issues. This common hanging plant may have a fast-growing rate that dresses up your kitchen quickly, but the girl is needy and you like to give, give, give. She needs cuttings, light adjustments, a moss pole. And heaven knows she’ll tell you the second she’s thirsty. This lovely little energy vampire will feed your generalized anxiety disorder like no other.
You like to collect a reward with little to no work involved and that’s okay! This shiny girl looks great in pictures and is very difficult to kill. But beware! As much as you’d like to ignore this babe, her leaves start to look dusty real fast and without proper dedication, you may grow to resent the thing your dissociative self thought you could ignore. Oops!
I’m not saying you have commitment issues, but... you refuse to be rooted and stay energized by life’s pinball-like ricochet. You haven’t been in many long term relationships and the ones you have had were rocky because you wouldn’t let your partner label things. You’re probably poly and you’ve lived in nine addresses within the last decade. Would it kill you to trust someone?
You desperately need stability in your life, which is why this indoor-and-outdoor goddess is steering the ship of your life. Sturdy, prehistoric, yet feathery and outgoing — this plant isn’t afraid to give your avoidant personality some tough love. Be ready to receive it.
We appreciate that you’re always ahead of the curve when it comes to botanical trends, but come on, you’re a textbook narcissist. My guess is life has rewarded your incessant self-importance up until this point, but just know it has a shelf life. The silvery foliage and gorgeous little drupes might soothe your little ego, but this Mediterranean siren will lure you to your end if you don’t wake up soon.
Fiddle Leaf Fig
You’re addicted to chaos and I think you know it too. What we have is something my therapist likes to call “broken bird syndrome,” and baby this is one busted little creature. Everyone warned you how hard it was going to be to take care of her, but you went ahead and bought her anyway. Is this cycle of toxicity really worth it to you? Might be time to move on from your need to be needed.
I know you think you were such an adult by heading to your local plant store and taking home this fleshy rhizome-filled beauty, but let’s be real, she is taking care of you. A little watering when you remember and this old girl is aerating your entire room, filling your lungs with good vibes — and with a stunning architectural shape! Is she really gonna have to keep carrying you?
We get it, you’re “quirky.” Life will never force you to do anything but go by the beat of your own drum, and this fabu collection of plastic divas is all personality and no responsibility, just how you like it.
Most would frown upon the purchase of a fake plant, but superficiality is a virtue in Western culture and we’re okay with that. Don’t beat yourself up — you’re a style-over-substance kinda person and maybe this is all you can handle right now! Knowing yourself is a step in the right direction.
Obsessive compulsive much? You’re a Type A girl living in a chaotic world and this plant is gonna bring out the best (read: worst) in you. Sure, she’s one of the most exotic and awe-inspiring offerings from the plant kingdom, but is all the feeding, trimming and repotting worth it? Life’s natural rhythm can’t be predicted. Set yourself free.