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Are millennials the future of gardening or are they throwing themselves into the shovel?



Do you know how many baby boomers it takes to change a light bulb? None. They rented it and did it, and then complained that then the light bulb cost only nickel.

Millennials have foible too. Have you heard about the millennium on "Wheel of Fortune?" He tried to rent a vowel.

Millennials are our next generation of gardeners. Or are they? Times have changed and will the group connected with the electronic device be interested in the manual work of planting, pruning, rooting and mowing for most of the day?

The Millennium Generation is poorly defined as being born in the early 1980s to about 2000. The Pew Institute uses a 15-year period from 1981 to 1996 in a technical definition that includes people currently between the ages of 23 and 38, which is now the nation's largest adult demographic.

Data from gardening last year showed that 77% of American households participate in some type of gardening, and 29% of those in the group are millennials, replacing other age groups as the largest group of gardeners in our country. Millennials are truly the next generation of gardening, and they embrace it with passion.

Still, there was a change. For previous generations home gardening meant cultivating an area garden, tidy lawn care, planting flower beds and maintaining the home landscape. Millennials can't see it that way.

ARCHIVE: Read more columns by "Growing Together" by Don Kinzler

Here's how millennial gardening differs from past generations.

  • Less millennials are buying homes; Instead, two-thirds rent as needed or choice. Typical gardening, gardening, lawn and yard care are less common among demographics.
  • As they grew up, many millennials watched their parents spend hours mowing, plowing and planting, not sure they wanted to spend their free time working the same way. Yet they see the joy that gardening has brought to parents and grandparents.
  • Plant plants are a hot trend among millennials, who call themselves "plant parents," and sales of houseplants have doubled in the past three years, fueled by their purchases, according to the National Gardening Association.
Plants are a big trend among millennials. iStock / Special Forums

Plants are a big trend among millennials. iStock / Special Forums

  • Millenials have developed a passion for plants and gardening "as an antidote to this crazy connection" to electronic devices, according to NBC News.
  • Sanford Health has called them a "wellness generation" spending resources on gym memberships, spa treatments and organic foods. Millennials appreciate how plants improve air quality, lighten our mood and help us think creatively.
  • Millennials see gardening as a way to collaborate with Mother Nature through composting, planting pollination gardens, using native plants and plantations, perennials in the garden, installing edible landscapes and using technology to improve success, such as gardening applications.
  • Knowing where your food comes from is important to millennials, which is why growing vegetables is attractive. As many rent their apartments, older-style vegetable gardens are less accessible. Instead, farmed gardens, yard containers, window plantations and balcony gardening are increasingly popular.
  • With less space and less time to garden in a home-landscape setting, millennials choose indoor gardening, tank growing and small-scale vegetable production.
  • With full schedules and ongoing connectivity, millennial favorites see turning to plant care as a healthier stress than reduced drinking or nibbling on junk food.
  • According to research by Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension, most millennials prefer to get gardening information through physical activity such as workshops and hands-on participation, rather than teaching or listening to online training.
  • Millennials enjoy gardening for the same reason as older adults – they enjoy the pleasure, peace and satisfaction that come from nurturing plants. That hasn’t changed much over the generations.

Editor's note: This is the first in a two-part Don Kinzler series on millennial gardening. Next Saturday, November 16, catch the rest of the series as Don explains what every millennium needs to know about gardening.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is a horticulturist with the North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can contact him at kinzlerd@casscountynd.gov or call 701-241-5707.


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