The Hot Seat

The Cringiest Plant Trends We’re Leaving Behind in 2023

Here’s what eight experts suggest doing instead to spruce up your interiors
This greenthemed dining room from the 1970s features a random assortment of houseplants.
This green-themed dining room from the 1970s features a random assortment of houseplants.Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

No matter where you reside, houseplants are one of the most sought-after decorations to have in any sanctuary. Not only are you (quite literally) bringing a piece of nature into your space, but it makes for a more inviting atmosphere that also has huge health benefits. However, it’s hard to shut out the internet’s role in influencing many creators, curators, and industry icons in what and what not to purchase over the years. These unspoken rules of cringe continue to take over the interior design space, and sadly we can confirm that flower and plant trends are included on the list of things, like home decor, that can be “basic” and, even worse, “cheugy.” (And don’t even get us started on people who willingly purchase fake alternatives!)

While we’re not expecting to become full-fledged botanical pros by the end of this, there are a few irrefutable plant trends we’re eagerly bidding adieu to, with advisement from leading voices in the design space. These experts also share what to do instead to maximize your space, budget, and plants’ lifespans. Here are seven of the biggest unfiltered and unapologetic icks in the plant department right now from eight of our favorite plant, floral, and interior stylists.

A portrait of a group of potted houseplants.

Photo: DeAgostini/Getty Images

Hoarding tons of plants, especially in one part of the room

Plants are like kids, so maintaining a quality lifestyle for them to thrive is essential. Each species requires much-needed attention, and despite what others might think, not all of them can thrive in the same type of space. With that said, there was a memorable period right before the 2020 quarantine lockdowns when people suddenly had more time on their hands and accumulated crowds of pots and vases that took up every facet of the home. But as we ease back into our regularly scheduled programming, the “plant babies” that are crammed on top of our window sills are now suffering. It’s giving cluttercore vibes, in a very bad way!

Maryah Greene, New York’s resident plant doctor at Greene Piece, says that when she launched her business in 2019, people really seemed to love the plants that they brought to their space. Then during the pandemic, she noticed a massive shift toward plant hoarding, or buying for the sake of having them, which became the driving design force. “We went all in and committed to having plants as children,” she explains. “Since we couldn’t go outside as often as we used to, we decided suddenly that having a ton of plants in your home was the norm to feel more connected to nature.”

Now Maryah notices that we’re now moving back toward intentionality, as more people are realizing that they bit off more than they can actually chew. “I can’t even count how many clients we’ve had over the past, like, four or five years, with the overwhelming majority purchased during the pandemic,” she says. “People didn’t necessarily realize the care that goes into them apart from just watering them every day, and that sounded really exciting because we weren’t doing anything during the pandemic. Another thing is that plants need to be repotted over time because they need more space to grow, so that’s a financial commitment. And for my New York clientele, it takes up a lot of space, and that is very limited and expensive here.”

Olivia Rose, founder of plant design studio Original Rose, also believes in living with purpose, especially as a New York native. “I have a different relationship with plants because we have to actually pick them to create the nature we want; they don't just happen on their own.” With very little room to work with, she stresses the importance of filling your surroundings with things you actually love—and are capable of taking care of.

A thriving snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) in its natural indoor habitat.

Photo: DeAgostini/Getty Images

Corner snake plants are giving doctor-office vibes

The Dracaena trifasciata, commonly known as a snake plant, is a controversial favorite. They’re ranked as a great air purifier and one of the best indoor plants for beginners, and experts like Hilton Carter strongly defend this “basic b*tch plant” on social media. But even with its rising popularity, its stiff and rubbery appearance can deter those like Colin King, who thinks that “any plant that feels like it’d be in a doctor’s office—especially those rubbery-looking snake plants—are a total deal breaker, and I would be mortified if someone had one of those.” (While the interior stylist admittedly doesn’t have a green thumb because of his busy lifestyle, he adds, “If you can keep a plant alive, I’m always impressed.”)

A close-up of an olive bonsai tree (Olea europaea).

Photo: DEA/C.DANI/Getty Images

The indoor olive tree that’s a challenge to upkeep

As a plant consultant that specializes in rare curations, Zilah Drahn knows a thing or two about the Olea europaea, or olive tree. The Plants and Spaces founder says that potted black olive trees, beloved for their ancient and symbolic roots in the Mediterranean and its longevity, aren’t necessarily the best option for indoors. This species requires a whole lot of care, which includes at least six hours of direct sunlight and an abundance of water and soil. (Plus, these bad boys can’t stay in the pot forever!) Even more so than the tree itself, the worst part is continuing to watch other plant companies sell them when they know they’re so difficult to care for. “It’s cringey to not be able to share with your customer that a plant is not going to survive,” she adds.

Struggling plants on the brink of death

These days, it’s become the norm to approach plant care through a lens of pessimism. Once a plant dies, we beat ourselves up and wallow in the shame of being a “plant killer.” This is quite a popular unpopular opinion from experts like Danae Horst, founder of Folia Collective and author of Houseplant For All: How to Fill Your Home with Happy & Healthy Houseplants. From her point of view, there’s nothing that makes her cringe more than seeing plants stuck in places they won’t thrive. “From plants too far from any window, to just the wrong plant for a room, there’s a tendency in the interior design space to treat indoor plants as props rather than living things,” she notes.

For Olivia, the kiss of green death is when people live in denial that their plant is fully dead. “I believe it’s best to get rid of that, it’s very bad juju,” she adds. Olivia insists that dead plants don’t make you a bad person—plant care is a process of trial and error. According to Zilah, a struggling plant can also be attributed to a number of factors. “I work with real living and growing plants, and I typically will find plants that are struggling very much in terms of their nutrients in the soil or not enough soil, or even because they haven’t been watered in a few months.”

Danae suggests tackling the issue by laying out details during the plant-picking process ahead of time. “Assess your space and your lifestyle first,” she explains. “Then choose plants that are a good match for you. If you have areas that don’t have good light for plants, consider art or interesting lamps or furniture for those spots. Or turn to grow lights—you’d be surprised how many stylish grow lights are on the market these days!”

Bouquets of colorful arrangements of dried flowers for sale at a market.

Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler/Getty Images

Dry flower arrangements are a bit tasteless (and not always the most sustainable)

While dry bouquets usually add a rustic, cottagecore touch to any given area, Studio Linné founder Mihaela Todirașcu believes that these dehydrated bundles not only look a bit uninspired, but they are often unsustainable. “Don’t get me wrong, I love flower meadows, but when you try to compress one in a small arrangement, it looks rather silly.” She also explains that while she enjoys a thought-through dry arrangement or using dry flowers for certain installations, this trend has sadly led to their mass production—so much so that it can be spotted just about everywhere on sale (Trader Joe’s, hide behind me). “People have the misconception that dry arrangements are eco-friendly, but they're not as a whole, and a new flower industry was created just to satiate this recently-found need.”

Colin emphasizes that dry arrangements, especially when dyed with vibrant hues, are an absolute no-go. In fact, he declares that the artificialness of the flowers and people using them as decoration are just one big yikes all around. Colin is a huge advocate of exploring other parts of nature to substitute plant and floral arrangements that can elevate your space. “I think people really don't give enough credit to other forged elements of nature—a rock, a shell, or something like a beautiful piece of driftwood.”

While the dried-arrangements route may be a hard pass for some, Loney Abrams and Johnny Stanish of Wretched Flowers make use of dried and dead plants in the wintertime, when shipping fresh flowers up from the south is unsustainable. Plus, dried plants often have interesting structural elements like seed pods or husks and can last virtually indefinitely. “A lot of our work challenges traditional notions of beauty, perfection, and the cult of youth, so we love making use of the thorny, gnarly bits.”

An arrangement of roses in a wood basket.

Photo: Carlton/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Let’s be real, those curated boxes of eternity roses are so 2018

There’s no denying the allure to eternity roses, or long-lasting boxed roses that can be enjoyed for months and even years after they’ve been gifted. Companies like the cult-favorite Venus Et Fleur use a very tailored formulated solution and color-dyeing process that help preserve their appearance and fragrance while in bloom. It’s no wonder they make for a great gift for just about any occasion and have been cosigned by A-listers all over the world. But as far as Loney and Johnny are concerned, those boxes of identical roses are “very much outdated.” Instead of following the trends, Mihaela recommends creating personalized arrangements that are “inspired by the occasion, ambiance, personality of the receiver or giver, music one listens to, or a painting one loves.”

Leave the “wasteful maximalism” behind

Similar to plant hoarding, too much of something is never a good thing. For Loney and Johnny, there’s an unnecessary amount of waste when it comes to flowers in particular, which they refer to as “wasteful maximalism.” According to the duo, the conventional floral industry relies on loads of pesticides and toxic chemicals, unsafe working conditions, environmentally irresponsible resource use, and carbon-emitting shipping from South America in refrigerated trucks and jets. “We can’t all be environmentally responsible all of the time,” they say, “but some things are simply unnecessary—especially when they’re only meant to last a day for a photo op. Is an entire wall of fresh flowers for a baby shower or a carpet of rose petals for Valentine’s Day really necessary?”

Rather than temporary (and overwhelming) consumption, Wretched Flowers purchases seasonal plants and flowers that are grown locally and organically, and suggest looking for tulips and daffodils in spring, lilies in summer, dahlias in fall, and branches with berries in the winter. As they remind us, there’s “nothing more out of place than a vase of roses in the middle of March.”