For those who are so passionate about plants, they made a career out of it, this is a hard reality. Today’s consumer wants plants to behave inside the way they do outside. If they are going to be plant people, the plants have to adapt to their lifestyles, not the other way around.
Unfortunately, traditional indoor plants, which do just fine in low light conditions, aren’t as popular as more hip, and more light-dependent plants like herbs and succulents.
Living in smaller spaces has been a trend for several years, with urban centers growing, Baby Boomers downsizing, and young families opting for smaller homes (and smaller mortgages). So why isn’t the industry expanding what it means to grow indoors?
Let’s start with artificial lighting. Virtually all grow lights have an industrial look, and not in an urban-chic way. Most women do not want tube lights on display for their friends. A typical homeowner spent a lot of time picking the color palette for her living room and dining room, and a metal shelving unit with tube lights rarely fits the ambiance she is going for.
But the technology is just about there. Why doesn’t the industry develop lighting options that allow homeowners to swap out regular lightbulbs with grow lightbulbs? Then the apartment and condo dwelling types can have their herb garden thrive under their existing pendant lights on the island, or can hang a vertical garden with a fashionable mini-chandelier hanging just above and in front of it.
Sunlight Supply is hoping to meet this need with its wide range of indoor growing products. Its entry to the industry is deeply welcomed, but for indoor growing to be embraced by today’s consumers, lighting and water proofing needs to be widely available in all price points.
And for that to happen, Sunlight Supply needs to succeed enough that competitors decide they want in on the game.
Another important issue for the industry to tackle in order for indoor gardening to become widespread is water proofing. Vertical gardens are highly popular, but few, if any, pre-assembled products protect drywall from getting soaked. Homeowners don’t like the idea of risking their expensive flooring, either.
There’s good news. In the age of “you can learn anything on the internet,” consumers are finding their own way to grow herbs and other plants indoors. Spend a little time on Pinterest and Instagram, and you’ll see home-made planter holding systems made from metal pipes in front of windows. And those pipe units do have that urban-chic fashion statement.
Mason jars on attractive trays are another big trend.
Others images include growing plants hydroponically, but not in the sense professional plant growers are accustomed to. You’ll find plants growing in clear glass bulbs.
Notice that all of these ideas are ones that everyday people would embrace, not just plant lovers. If we as an industry want plants to become part of consumers’ everyday lives, we need to give them what they want. And one of the things they want is to have their plants be fashionable — and indoors.
We have the tools to give them what they want. But do we have the will?