All things cycle in and out of popularity, it seems. Well, along with high-waisted jeans and bell-bottomed pants, the noble houseplant has cycled back into favor. Now some of you might be thinking that you always thought houseplants were trendy, and that’s wonderful too. The industry reports that sales of houseplants have expanded over the past five years, somewhat in tandem with a craze for succulents.

Right on time, the National Garden Bureau (NGB) has announced the houseplant category will join its “Year of” program for 2022, and its first-ever Houseplant of the Year is the peperomia. NGB started with a great houseplant choice for the inaugural specimen. Peperomia is an easy-care, succulent-adjacent plant that encompasses a wide variety of appearances. There are numerous species to choose from and selections for various colors and habits. In fact, there are so many different cultivars and species that one could easily become a collector!

But what makes one choose a houseplant? Researchers with the Floral Marketing Fund have been studying consumer preferences about houseplants. I was very interested to see some of the results of their recent consumer survey compared to the 2019 survey completed before the pandemic. While these surveys are meant to help those in the industry prepare their offerings and business strategies, there are some interesting tidbits for the general public.

In 2021 versus 2019, more people were interested in owning houseplants, purchasing houseplants and giving them as gifts. The most popular categories were broadleaf houseplants, flowering plants and succulents. Consumers indicated they plan to increase their future spending on various houseplants between 10 and 15 percent. Researchers also gathered opinions from individuals who had not purchased a houseplant recently. Surprisingly, almost 10% of that group did not see the value of houseplants. My favorite tidbit from the responses was that more than 70% of houseplant purchasers said houseplants make them happier. That is a lovely thought that directly aligns with my own love of houseplants.

I think the numbers, in general, point to the pandemic’s impact in creating hyperfocus on the home and finding things that provide comfort in uncertain times. Lockdowns just amplified the indoor gardening surge that had already begun. So, if you don’t have a houseplant, it is time to get on trend! Believe me, if I can keep houseplants despite my devilish leaf-munching cat, then anyone can have success! You can find information on caring for houseplants in HGIC online factsheet 1450, Indoor Plants.

The 4-H Honey Bee Project is accepting applicants through Feb. 11. It is an independent-study project that engages youth (ages 5-18 years) in beekeeping, entomology, and appreciation for the role of pollinators in our world. Find information here: clemson.edu/extension/4hbee.html. Visit the online calendar, calendar.clemson.edu, to register for upcoming extension events and classes.

Contact me at stepht@clemson.edu or 864-889-0541. The Greenwood County Extension office at 105 N. University St. is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Call the office at 864-223-3264 for assistance via phone. Visit our Facebook page, facebook.com/GreenwoodCoExtension, for timely information.

Stephanie Turner is the Greenwood County horticulture agent for Clemson Cooperative Extension.