Have you ever wondered about the
history of the houseplant? When did it all start? It turns out that houseplants
were once a status symbol for the elite and the wealthy. Of course, this has
since evolved and now houseplants are very widespread.
Houseplants Throughout History
The most ancient houseplants were
used by the Chinese, potentially as early as 1000 B.C. The Chinese used many
plants to adorn their interior spaces, and also to be able to be close to
Another very early example of
historical houseplants was the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which also happens
to be one of the 7 wonders of the world. Around 600 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar
was fabled to create a spectacular indoor and outdoor hanging garden for his
wife. She missed the botanical flair of her homeland, so the king reproduced a
botanical paradise for her. Fantastic hanging displays of palms, dates, and
many types of flowers were constructed.
In the 400-500 B.C. timeframe,
wealthy ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Roman were well known for keeping
houseplants in their elaborate estates. Houseplants continued their reputation
for being a status symbol of the wealthy. When Christopher Columbus sailed to
the Bahamas, he was greeted by an abundance of tropical plants. This discovery
continued to feed the desire of wealthy people overseas wanting to showcase
exotic plants in their homes.
One important turning point for
historical houseplants occurred during the Victorian era. This was the period
of time when houseplants started to become widespread among the middle class. Prior
to this period, indoor plants were mainly a luxury of the wealthy. In the
Victorian era, homes became brighter and warmer and, thus, much more hospitable
to growing plants indoors. The Victorian
indoor plants included English
ivy, various dracaenas,
iron plants, which are all known to tolerate low light. Parlor
palms and ferns
were also popular during this time.
It really wasn’t until after
World War II that houseplants really became widespread. Plants became popular
in the workplace and then continued to spread inside peoples’ homes. This was
also the period where the cost of houseplants became much more affordable for
the masses. As advancements occurred in propagation, the selection of
houseplant varieties skyrocketed and the cost to obtain a houseplant plummeted.
Who knows where the houseplant
trend will go next, but with such a fascinating history, we are bound to see
interesting things in the future as well!