From the Bay Area to Brooklyn to London, succulents are hot, hot, hot! A quick scan of my Instagram feed, and you’ll see the charming greens popping up in between chic leggings, green smoothies and Mid-Century interiors.
This may explain why I found myself at Sprout Home in Williamsburg one day, with an almost subliminal calling to start my own windowsill garden.
“Green is in. In more ways than one. We are seeing more plants and greenery in designer homes, hotels, restaurants, offices and public spaces than ever before.”
– The Cool Hunter, August 19, 2016
Why all the #succulentlove?
Friends in SoCal take credit for what other coasters believe started as a “hipster” trend. While the luscious lawns of the past have nearly been banned in CA as a result of strict water regulations, the need for drought-proof, “environmentally friendly” landscaping has given rise to the indestructible succulent family.
Here in NYC, tiny succulents and cacti have been embraced for different reasons: Their aesthetic contributions as living art, and their resilience. Succulents are survivalists, requiring little water or TLC, making them the perfect plant to liven up an apartment, office, café or retail shop.
Over the last several months, a new crop of succulent-inspired retail concepts and in-store experiences has emerged. They deserve attention for their originality, and for reminding us how much we really do need more green space in our lives.
Earlier this summer/2016, a cactus and succulent boutique aptly named PRICK, opened its doors in London.
Bucking the London flower shop tradition, the boutique sells only the most unusual and exotic cacti and succulents. PRICK markets their plants as “living sculptures” and have created their own signature line of “Prick Pots” to complete the presentation.
The first known “Plant Truck” debuted here in Bushwick/Brooklyn in the Spring/2016. A new concept by the plantscaping design team at Tula, the Tulita Truck as it is called, is a greenhouse on wheels and offers an entirely new – and fun – plant shopping experience.
Tulita can be seen each weekend at various points in the city, selling potted plants and educating New Yorkers on how to care for their green space.
Succulent Bars and Baristas
Several gardening stores have introduced “Succulent Bars”, and some have even staffed botanical “Baristas” to help clients navigate container gardening.
Rolling Greens, located in Los Angeles and Culver City, features a signature “Arrangement Bar” where guests can pull up a chair and work with one of their “Baristas” to create a uniquely personal planted arrangement. Clients can choose their own container, such as a piece of driftwood or glass orb, and a variety of succulents, cacti or other blooms straight from the Rolling Greens nursery beds.
The Arrangement Bar is also home Learn + Grow Workshops where groups can learn to build their own succulent terrariums.
A favorite of Sunset Magazine, Sierra Water Gardens of Reno, NV, features an outdoor Succulent Bar where they teach Vertical Succulent Planting Workshops.
If succulents and coffee are two of your favorite things, you’ll hope this hybrid café and shop concept takes off.
First, I have to give props to The Succulent Café, which launched in 2013 in Oceanside, CA, and appears to be the first to market itself as such.
According to reviews, the F&B is more coffee cart than café; guests mainly come here to be surrounded by succulents and to enjoy the cafe’s peaceful, relaxing atmosphere. Many of the vertical gardens and succulent displays are said to be available for purchase.
We’re seeing this concept come alive indoors too.
In 2014, the international coffee publication Sprudge, spotted “succulents in cafes” as a trend originating in the Bay Area and predicted that succulents and air plants would be the next “Edison bulb”. Good call, Sprudge!
Paiko, in Honolulu, takes this trend to a whole new level.
Photo via Paikohawaii.com
At this hybrid botanical boutique and café, guests can choose from a large selection of succulents and locally sourced plants, all while enjoying Arvo coffee and an Aussie-inspired menu. Most ingenious is the walk-up DIY Bar where guests can assemble their own succulent terrariums and potted plants using local shells, tumbled glass and stones.
Why we need more green space in our lives
Succulents, cacti and now air plants, have become a common fixture for their graphic nature and geometric design, yet their benefits go beyond aesthetics.
Indoors, plants have a calming influence. They provide that “cognitive comfort” we need to minimize the digital distractions and information overload occupying our minds. Experts believe that the more digital our lives become, the more we’ll need nature to restore balance and our connection with others.
Green plants can speed up the healing process. Texas A&M University’s groundbreaking research showed decreased recovery time with patients who took care of, and physically interacted with plants. Since then, cutting-edge institutions like Johns Hopkins in Baltimore have installed gardens to promote healing and patient well-being.
Being around plants can significantly improve memory and productivity, which is why we need them in our offices and classrooms too! Studies show that they can improve the learning experience for kids struggling with ADD. Even brief exposure to the color green can spark creativity and innovative thinking.