Houseplant sales are booming and so are 'Plantfluencers,' the social-media creators sharing plant tips, products, and content
- As many people shelter-in-place at apartments and homes through the pandemic, houseplants have become a growing source of interest.
- Houseplant brands like The Sill, Horti, and Bloomscape have all reported a surge in sales.
- "Plantfluencers," the influencers sharing photos, videos, and classes centered on plant-care tips, are a part of this boom.
- Business Insider spoke with several plant influencers and brands about what it's been like to be in this niche space during the pandemic.
- Some plant influencers had vastly increased their followings and continued to land brand deals. Others have launched side projects like online classes and virtual plant-care events.
- Subscribe to Business Insider's influencer newsletter: Influencer Dashboard.
While sheltering-in-place during the pandemic, many people are looking around their houses and apartments and wondering, "Should I buy more plants?"
For advice on the subject, some turn to "plantfluencers," the social-media influencers who specialize in sharing content about — as their nickname suggests — plants.
These influencers' horticultural content on social media ranges from houseplants to gardening to sustainable living. Some of them have built communities of hundreds of thousands across Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.
And for some of these creators, it's not just a passion, but a robust business as well. They collaborate with both local plant shops and larger direct-to-consumer brands like The Sill, teach courses, publish books, and partner with brands across industries for paid sponsorships.
Plantfluencers are not new to the scene, but their popularity and impact have surged amid the pandemic.
"We have seen a huge uptake in interest in these types of accounts since lockdown," said Sarah Penny, head of content for Influencer Intelligence, an influencer marketing and data analytics platform.
One plant influencer who has seen major growth during the pandemic is Christopher Griffin (@PlantKween), whose Instagram follower count has increased by around 150,000 followers to over 225,000 in total. Their page is filled with colorful plants, educational content, and collaborations with brands like Horti. Griffin also works full time as an educator and assistant director at NYU's LGBTQ+ Center.
"I think folks are looking for an opportunity to green-up their space and to make their homes that they're working in have a little more light to it," Griffin said. "And I've been sharing my journey about how I've been doing that, for me." Griffin's own houseplant count has grown by around 50 new plants to over 170.
Griffin attributed their recent follower growth to a combination of both the surge in houseplant sales and their identity as a Black, queer, non-binary person — especially at a time when these identities are being brought to the forefront, they said.
And Griffin isn't the only plant influencer to see recent audience growth.
Nick Cutsumpas (@FarmerNickNYC), who appeared on the Netflix reality plant sculpture show "The Big Flower Fight," which debuted in May, said his following had nearly doubled over the course of the last five months. Now with over 60,000 Instagram followers, the micro influencer has been partnering with brands such as AllBirds, Whole Foods, and Nissan. These brand deals had been initially struck prior to the pandemic, but have grown into stable and ongoing partnerships, Cutsumpas said.
Some other plant influencers, like Reagan Kastner (@stylushco), have started their careers during the pandemic. Kastner joined TikTok in April and gained nearly 10,000 followers within a month. Today she has over 256,000 followers on TikTok, where she shares plant tips. Her videos have driven traffic and sales to her own plant business Stylush Co., she said.
As houseplant sales soar, brands spend more on influencer marketing
Plant sales are booming, which has helped plant influencers land and maintain brand sponsorships.
Direct-to-consumer brands like The Sill, Horti, and Bloomscape told Business Insider in June that they had seen spikes in sales. And even smaller plant shops and nurseries, some of which initially closed due to the pandemic, have experienced an increase in sales, especially from online and call-in orders.
Four houseplant brands Business Insider spoke with all said that they had increased their influencer marketing budgets and outreach for partnerships recently.
"We've definitely increased content being generated by influencers as a result of COVID-19 and in keeping with practicing social distancing," said Bridget Russo, Bloomscape's chief marketing officer. The DTC houseplant brand is also launching an ambassador program in the coming weeks for both influencers and fans of the brand, and ramping up its YouTube content via a performance-based influencer campaign.
Plants.com went from partnering with a new influencer on a monthly basis to partnering with new creators nearly every week since the pandemic started, the company said. It has partnered with plant, decor, and wellness micro influencers like Thomas Trust (@rustandtrust).
How much are these deals worth?
Brands that sell houseplants generally pay around $300 to $500 for an Instagram Stories post and $500 to $1,000 for static posts, according to Katie Dubow, the president of Garden Media Group. Longer-term and more elaborate partnerships may stretch over $2,000, she added.
Plant influencers are making up for canceled in-person events with digital classes
Several plant influencers said they have seen the most success with educational content during the pandemic, and for some that has meant a boost in income.
Summer Rayne Oakes runs a "Houseplant Masterclass," which costs $179 to enroll in a month-long, five-part course. Oakes said her enrollment between late-March and June increased 62% versus the period between January and mid-March.
Last July, Oakes published the book "How to Make a Plant Love You," and was continuing her book tours and promotional events up until the lockdowns. During April and May this year, her monthly book sales almost doubled compared to March, she said.
"I probably should have worked on it and released it at the beginning of [the pandemic]," Cheng said.
Outside of classes, books, and brand partnerships, the plant influencers Business Insider spoke with said that the increase in interest in their content had spurred other business ideas, like sustainable merch, consulting businesses, and for some, dreams of opening their own plant shops.
For more stories about how the influencer industry is adapting and evolving during the pandemic, read these recent Business Insider pieces:
- How the coronavirus is changing the influencer business, according to marketers and top Instagram and YouTube stars
- Some brands are turning to computer-generated influencers who can be 'anywhere' during a pandemic
- A new survey of 1,021 Instagram influencers shows how the social-media platform has changed in recent weeks and what areas they're leaning into
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