From baking bread to putting together puzzles to learning TikTok dances, Americans found many hobbies to keep themselves sane and occupied during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another popular pastime that emerged is plant-keeping. According to a new survey of 1,000 Americans ages 18 to 54 and older, conducted by www.Trees.com in partnership with online survey platform Pollfish, two-thirds of Americans used this time to try out their green thumbs and spruce up their homes and gardens with plants.
Our survey found that not only did plant-keeping help people pass the time, the hobby also has a profound impact on people’s mental and physical health during this stressful time, to the point where the overwhelming majority of people surveyed said that they expect to continue with their plant-keeping hobby even after the pandemic is over.
The majority (64%) of people who responded to the survey, said they took up plant-keeping as a hobby during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-five percent did not, and 1% of respondents chose not to answer.
Google Trends, which compiles and analyzes data on Google searches in real time, found that as normal routines were upended by shutdown orders and transmission fears in March and April of 2020, interest in plant-keeping soared.
Searches for “planting” and “plants” started increasing during the week of March 22, 10 days after the federal government declared COVID-19 a national emergency, just as many states and cities were implementing stay-at-home orders to help halt the spread of the disease.
35–44 Year-olds most likely age group to start plant-keeping hobby during pandemic
Plant-keeping is most popular among people ages 35-44 years old. People ages 54 and older were the least likely age group to adopt this hobby. Men were more likely than women to try their hand at gardening. Most couples, whether married or not, enjoyed plant-keeping as a hobby. 7% to 13% fewer single, separated, or divorced people took up this activity.
Most employed people (73%) picked up this hobby, as did students and people in the military, however, only 44% of people who are unemployed, and 41% of retirees started a gardening hobby this year.
84% of the Asians in the cohort, took up gardening in 2020. Black people were the least likely to start keeping plants, although 60% of the respondents from this group, said they took up plant-keeping last year.
93% of older Americans say keeping plants helped their mental health during the pandemic
Amid the stress, fear, and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, many health experts continue to express concerns about the short-and long-term impacts the pandemic will have on people’s mental health. The good news is those individuals who began keeping plants during the past year seem to have found a hobby that offers some relief. Eighty-eight percent of respondents who began a plant-keeping hobby said it has had a positive impact on their mental health, especially those 54 and older (the age group least likely to have taken up the hobby in the first place) said the hobby had positively impacted their mental health, as did 91% of retirees.
Of the 18-24 year-olds who are keeping plants, a slightly lower percentage said it was positively impacting their mental health. For some reason men were more likely than women to say that plant-keeping had a positive impact on their mental health.
Although only 50% of widowed people said they started keeping plants as a hobby during the pandemic, 100% of those who did said it had a positive effect on their mental health.
The benefits of plant-keeping also extended to physical health for some survey respondents. More men said they experienced positive physical effects from keeping plants, than women. Students were the most likely group to say plant-keeping is having a positive impact on their physical health. Military personnel found the activity less helpful for physical health benefits, perhaps because they were already fit.
More than ¼ of Americans have taken on debt to fund their plant-keeping hobby
People were willing to spend from $5 to nearly $2000 on their plant-keeping habit, although most spent between $50-$200. The majority of people have not gone into any debt to fuel their plant-keeping hobby.
Surprisingly, eighteen- to twenty-four-year-olds were the most likely to have taken on debt to fuel their plant-keeping hobby. Again, men were more than twice as likely as women to go into debt for their plant-keeping hobby.
90% of Americans expect to continue keeping plants after the pandemic ends
Regardless of age, at least 96% of all respondents who started a plant-keeping hobby during the pandemic, said they consider themselves plant-keeping enthusiasts for life and intend to continue with this activity even after the pandemic ends.
Students were most optimistic about being plant-keeping enthusiasts for life; 100% of respondents in this group said they will continue with their plant-keeping hobby after the pandemic.
Gardening and being outdoors and in contact with Nature is therapeutic at any stage of our lives. Mental Health benefits are are just one of the payoffs.