Succulent trend sprouts at BYU

Allyssa Pike, co-owner of "Penny's Plants," shows one of her succulents potted in a glass teacup. The business is named after the baby girl she is currently pregnant with. (Ari Davis)
Allyssa Pike, co-owner of Penny’s Plants, tends to her succulent plants inside a greenhouse. The business is named after Pike’s soon-to-be-born daughter. (Ari Davis)

Succulents are trending among BYU students who want to bring a bit of greenery into their apartments without the responsibility of watering a plant often.

These small, waxy plants with fat leaves are native to arid climates and often grow in flower-like spiraling patterns.

Succulents have been featured by many magazines and websites like Buzzfeed, and are increasingly being used as decorations for weddings, restaurants and residences.

Provo entrepreneurs Allyssa Pike and Roger Sarkis are capitalizing on the succulent trend by opening a small houseplant business called Penny’s Plants. The couple has observed a recent increased interest in houseplants, particularly in small succulents potted in clear glass teacups.

“People like the succulents for their aesthetics, they’re very ‘in’ right now,” Pike said. “They have a rustic vibe that everyone loves. They’re also really hardy.”

The inspiration to start the business came after a particularly strong inversion one Saturday afternoon, according to Sarkis. He began thinking about different methods that could be used to help purify air in a home and remembered a NASA study that found certain houseplants can help remove toxins from the air.

Sarkis said he then thought of growing different types of functional plants, such as herbs and kale for use in the kitchen, succulents to help clean the air and mosquito repellents like lavender and geraniums.

Allyssa Pike holds a plant potted in a glass teacup. This style of creatively potted plant is increasing in popularity among students. (Amy Ai Photography)
Allyssa Pike holds a plant potted in a glass teacup. This style of creatively potted plant is increasing in popularity among students. (Amy Ai Photography)

“When people become educated, the aspect of human responsibility over living things becomes more punctuated. As we age, we become more responsible,” Sarkis said. “I had houseplants in college and I killed them because I couldn’t take care of them, but now I have a desire to grow plants and nurture them.”

Succulents, geraniums and native Utah wildflowers or plants are the easiest plants for students to grow, according to Sarkis and Pike. They warned against growing tropical houseplants because they’re not suited to Utah’s arid environment. The couple hopes BYU students will become more interested in their particular varieties of practical plants as current trends continue to develop.

Some BYU students say succulents and other types of houseplants improve their mood and environment. Susan Allsop, a junior studying biological sciences education, said she loves plants and knew when she first came to college that she needed them in her life. She has multiple succulents in her apartment as well as other houseplants.

“I really enjoy taking a few minutes every day to take care of my plants, because it’s something I love to do and it is relaxing for me,” Allsop said.

Allsop said succulents are one of her favorite types of plants because they’re easy to take care of and don’t die immediately if they aren’t watered. She thinks succulents are trending among college students because the plants have been featured on Pinterest, and houseplants add a “really nice touch of life” to any student’s stuffy apartment.

Chelsey White, a senior studying nursing at BYU, said she thinks the greenery is popular because it reminds students of home. She said she likes that succulents can be planted in “adorable” ways, and hopes to eventually have herbs and succulents in her apartment in addition to her current houseplant.

“I like how (houseplants) make the apartment feel fresh and bring the outdoors inside,” White said.

White and other students will likely have many options of succulents and houseplants to choose from as the trend continues to grow at BYU.

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