PlantLife is TikTok for your plants, by Apple and Nike alums

The very first thing I believed after I encountered PlantLife—a brand new plant-oriented social media app out at this time for iOS—was a riff on the traditional Zoolander quote.

“What is this? A middle for vegetation?!?”

And certainly, that’s precisely what it is! PlantLife is a social media platform “the place folks and vegetation thrive.” It’s constructed with acquainted full-bleed movies and a UI borrowed largely from TikTok. However as an alternative of duets and dances, it’s meant to be stuffed with plant content material for plant lovers.

[Screenshot: courtesy PlantLife]

This is not your run-of-the-mill hobbyist app, just like the half dozen plant and gardening apps I’ve tried over time. The corporate was based by a trio of specialists: CEO Leslie Mullins, who spent a profession in advertising and design at Nike and Apple; chief product officer Taylor Vignali, who held artistic director and UX roles at those self same corporations; and chief of vegetation Lana Pappas, a San Francisco-based architectural landscaper and designer.


From left: Leslie Mullins, Taylor Vignali and Lana Pappas [Photo: courtesy PlantLife]

Its founders are mission pushed, having give you the thought of a plant-centric social community as a salve to the toxicity of social media. Nevertheless, it so occurs that greenback payments are inexperienced, too. On condition that 70% of millennials declare to be “plant mother and father,” they think about that PlantLife might generate $189 million in income following 5 years of progress, taking a chew out of the $1.7 billion houseplant market, whereas increasing into gardening, wellness, plant-based consuming, and each different green-related subject you possibly can think about.

“We see this [expansion as] infinite, as a result of every little thing we’ve in our lives is linked to vegetation in a roundabout way!” says Mullins. “However houseplants are the start of the journey.”

PlantLife is designed to have fun your connection to your beloved vegetation from the get-go. Living proof, once you arrange an account, you begin by taking a photograph not solely of your self, however of your plant infants, too. After every {photograph}, you’re requested to share the plant’s title, species, age, and an outline. Standing exterior my backyard’s raised beds, I discovered myself already looking for the best angle of my banana pepper plant for social media, which, whereas coated in luxurious fruits, has irrevocably tipped to at least one facet. This is the precise kind of parental stress that I don’t put by myself youngsters. However sorry vegetation, you’re totally different!

[Screenshots: courtesy PlantLife]

The app doesn’t have automatic-photo identification, like, but it surely hopes to include such know-how sooner or later. For now, you possibly can manually search for your plant within the restricted database. While you do discover a match, your plant is paired with a wealthy sheet of care directions. The probabilities of getting all of those care directions in a single place on my telephone is most likely sufficient to maintain my consideration. Add to it that individuals can really commerce vegetation with others of their communities, bringing these longstanding traditions of seed sharing and propagation into the digital period, and I’m offered.

As a result of, after all, the draw is presupposed to be within the posting alongside different folks. It’s straightforward to think about importing glamour pictures of my vegetation onto my feed. It’s additionally simply as straightforward to think about posting photos of my vegetation gone mistaken. It may be laborious for plant growers to grasp simply what is taking place when leaves all of a sudden begin withering and dying on a plant. It’s a tragedy that in the end takes you deep into the extension websites of faculty agricultural packages, watching jpegs uploaded in 2005 to decipher precisely which fungus has killed your cucumbers. Simply posting on PlantLife, and figuring out you’re surrounded by different plant lovers, means you’re extra prone to get assist in the feedback throughout these moments.

Nevertheless, Mullins shared a a lot richer progress technique, most of which comes right down to influencers. The corporate has been cultivating relationships with “plantfluencers” throughout Instagram and TikTok (a handful of whom will likely be on the service at launch), who can arrange e-commerce outlets of their very own, and even lead golf equipment on particular matters (one such membership presently within the works is round mushroom foraging). The concept is that each person can discover their plant area of interest, no matter it is. In the meantime, the staff additionally needs to carry extra small companies onto the platform, to arrange turnkey outlets, as a result of a lot of the plant business is dominated by large field {hardware} shops. Because it occurs, consultants in rising vegetation don’t are usually consultants in digital platforms, which is a giant motive it’s so laborious to buy for vegetation on-line exterior of some mega companies.

[Screenshots: courtesy PlantLife]

“There are a variety of these small nurseries on the market that don’t have e-commerce,” says Mullins. “So we wish to be sure that we’re additionally utilizing [PlantLife] as a element to scale back the digital divide inside this business.”


I, myself, don’t doubt that there is a giant, and largely optimistic, enterprise alternative in PlantLife, assuming the corporate can woo customers to such a extremely particular app (which is by no means a given—with each season comes a brand new social media darling that disappears after a press launch). What I’m extra skeptical about is whether or not PlantLife is leveraging too many present social media norms for it to be a salve from the trendy digital world. Standing in your backyard will measurably decrease your cortisol ranges, making you seemingly more healthy in minutes. On the similar time, PlantLife is banking on the influencer economic system and social feeds—the very comparability tradition that social media stokes by nature—which science has confirmed can drive despair and nervousness.

“I’d say we wish to appeal to everybody in a really sincere and clear means,” says Mullins. “The tradition we’re making an attempt to create is indicative to plant folks . . . fostering a positivity that we hope spreads by way of this neighborhood.”

Which is why PlantLife is such an attention-grabbing startup to comply with. It’s stress-testing the very premise of social media by filling it with a few of the most pure and real content material on-line, and pruning it to develop right into a flourishing ecosystem.