The Victorian era saw the first use of houseplants by the middle class, which were perceived as a symbol of social status and moral value.

Plants which tolerated the typical gloomy and snug environment inside a Victorian home became popular. The quintessential Victorian plants were palms, the cast iron plant, and ferns. Ferns were grown in Wardian cases, an early type of terrarium. Geraniums were often placed on window ledges and in drawing rooms and were the most affordable houseplant for the average Briton. In the early 20th century, there was a turn against houseplants as they were seen as dated relics of the cluttered Victorian era. When there were houseplants, the more architecturally shaped cacti and succulents were the most common. In the 1920s, commercial houseplant production began in California, focused on the Kentia palm and the pothos, later expanding to include Philodendron and Araucaria species in the 1940s. By 1960, Florida produced more than 55% of American houseplants, and has remained the main producer of houseplants for the American market since. Beginning in the mid to late 2010s, fashionable plants from earlier decades were revitalized and popularized by social media, especially Instagram, with “plantstagram” becoming a major driver of trendy plants. In 2015, 5 million Americans took up plant-related hobbies. In 2017, 30% of American households purchased at least one houseplant. Some of the most popular plants in the 2020s are the Monstera deliciosa and other aroids, as well as the fiddle-leaf fig. This era saw a larger interest in growing plants with interesting or attractive forms or foliage, rather than focusing solely on flowers.