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Newly sprouted shops, apps, names and more so exciting you’ll wet your plants.
By Lauren Kruchten & Melissa Howsam
While Gen Z and millennials have garnered plenty of acclaim for the houseplant boom of late, houseplants are no newer than flare jeans (sorry, Z’ers). Giving credit where credit is due, the younger gens do deserve a nod for their viral #urbanjungle and #plantsmakepeoplehappy hashtags that have only served to spur indoor-plant growth across social platforms.
But the epic rise in houseplant interest over the last year specifically (support groups, plant naming, turning your living room into a, well, #urbanjungle) speaks more to that latter hashtag—no doubt an innate response to surrounding ourselves with life when chaos, death and what felt like end times (or at least the end of the world as we knew it) pervaded our lives. Enter beauty, clean energy, vibrancy… life.
A study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology confirms that active interaction with indoor plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress. And we saw this play out in our collective clinging to these “fronds” over the last year.
Local plant experts Kurt Meyer, marketing director of Logan’s Garden Shop, and Tina Mast, communications director of Homewood Nursery—who saw houseplant sales skyrocket during the pandemic—agree. “Our greenhouse was pretty awesome before COVID, but when COVID hit, we noticed we couldn’t keep it stocked,” says Meyer.
Mast acknowledges the natural appeal as well. “It’s a way to bring nature and life into the home,” she says. “Houseplants provide clean air, improve mood, reduce stress, improve productivity. It’s a part of all of those and making your personal space more inviting and improving the ambiance—in your personal space—making it cozy and bringing life into the home.”
And let’s not forget the next-level boredom we felt. So, also: think sweet escape. People had the extra time (and in some cases money), and general curiosity and itch to do something satisfying. While pandemic pups were also de rigueur, plants provided an additional less-muss, less-fuss option for abam-boo (get it?).
“We were all tucked in and trying to stay safe, and it was something to do at home that’s nurturing, relaxes you, that you perceive as a healthy thing at a time when you might be concerned about your health,” says Mast.
At Homewood, Mast reports that houseplant sales were up 70% in 2021 over last year at the same time, “and that was definitely pandemic-related, but also a continuation of the last few years of increased interest,” she says. And the buyers, Mast has noticed, include that huge upsurge in millennials and Gen Z customers, which, she reiterates, has a lot to do with social media.
“A lot of the younger generation is interested in the environment, sustainability and nature,” says Mast. “And [plants are] kind of like an extension of their interest in those topics. It’s a way of bringing that into the home. It has been so fun to see them get excited about plants!”
But don’t expect that excitement to wane any time soon. While plants were definitely of-the-moment over the year from hell, they clearly grew on us (had to)—and the seeds of this cult following seem to only be in sprout mode at this point. Plant parents are real—and they’re here to stay… so, we’ll continue to grow on and flex our green thumbs…
3 PLANT SHOPS CROPPING UP
After visiting travel shops the world over during his time as a travel writer and researching the “coolest houseplant shops,” founder J. Harvey spent his quarantine writing the business plan for his budding new plant shop, Urban Pothos. Officially open to great fanfare in June (with no signs of wilting), Urban Pothos was planted out of a love of houseplants and “a need for a sophisticated houseplant buying experience in the Triangle befitting of the modern city Raleigh has and is becoming.” Its mission, “in short, is to put houseplants in every household… for everyone who loves houseplants—and serve as a safe space for people across the spectrum of identity regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion, gender and other identities.” That mission is evident in the name: Pothos itself is one of the most approachable and easiest-to-care-for plants (hey, beginner or busy plant parents!). And Urban is a nod to our budding metropolis: “Since we were creating a modern, sophisticated shopping experience,” says Harvey, “we decided to go with combining the words Urban and Pothos into our brand name.” As other local plantsmen have cited, Harvey is also well aware of the Gen Z and millennial interest (as a response to climate change and for “a love of nature and a desire to live more wholesome, healthy lives”) that has helped spur the growth of houseplant parenting, and he wants to answer the call. “We want to be the source of high-quality plants for homes… and we believe people are happier when nature is part of their lives—and we make it easy for people to do that.” Beyond a range of houseplants and accessories, the Peace Street shop currently offers a potting service (repotting your plants for you)—and stay tuned for classes and workshops, a DIY soil-mixing bar, guest speaker series, events for children and more to be added in the near future. @urbanpothos
Fulfilling a long-held vision, Raleigh native Anna Grace FitzGerald dubbed her plant shop as a tribute to her love for Raleigh—a moniker she dreamed up while feeling homesick and walking with her dog in Philly (where she’d been living for two-ish years as a landscape architectural designer), listening to James Taylor’s—you guessed it—“Copperline.” “The overwhelming sense of ‘home’ swept over me,” she says. “The lyrics resonated with me in a way they hadn’t before—the feeling of nostalgia for the creeks, the flora, the fauna, the people. …. ‘Copperline’ is all about memories of home—a feeling that I hope folks get when they interact with my business.” Officially planted in February, Copperline Plant Co. had long been growing as a concept in FitzGerald’s mind. While the seed was planted at a young age, UNC alum FitzGerald spent years post-undergrad managing the greenhouse at a local garden center, “allowing the plant-love to fully root and grow,” she says. Fast-forward through her master’s in landscape architecture at NC State and the move to Philly (where she “met some incredible humans; worked on some world-class projects; and learned a whole lot about design, plants, construction and, most importantly, what makes me happy!”), and you can see the garden through the seeds. Then enter pandemic and, with that all-too-familiar feeling, “the monotony of quarantine left me with a feeling I couldn’t shake. I realized that something was missing in my day-to-day. … I needed to get my hands back into the soil, play with some plants. And while it has been an incredibly difficult time, the pandemic gave me a wonderful opportunity to think and plan and dream up what I really want to be doing and how I can go about doing it.” So she returned to her Raleigh roots and planted Copperline. Currently devised as a digital plant shop and pop-up shop (think Wye Hill Pints + Plants, Triangle Pop-Up at First Friday and more), with plans to create a brick-and-mortar, Copperline specializes in how to care for and keep your houseplants. It’s a store that feels like home—a place for anyone (black thumbs welcome!) to come and ask questions, explore the world of indoor plants (many grown by FitzGerald right here in Raleigh) and learn the know-how needed to help them survive and thrive. (Her repotting video on Insta saved one of our own houseplants!) “It’s a place for folks with a self-proclaimed black thumb to learn the skills and find the right plant for their space so they can turn that thumb green,” says FitzGerald. “It’s a place where there are no dumb questions and there’s an endless sense of curiosity. It’s also a go-to for experienced collectors to find some uncommon tropical plants at a great price!” All plants posted online, local delivery on offer, shipping available outside of the Triangle, copperlineplants.com
We first intro’d you to this revolutionary plants-on-wheels sitch by Kaylynne Leggett in the spring—but, as promised, the brand is, well, growing. As a refresher (or ICYMI) self-described “houseplant fan girl” Leggett hit the road in March with her Houseplant Hippie truck (after returning home to her Raleigh roots from NYC—where she had been pursuing her pro dance career—because pandemic) with an MO of demystifying plants, making them more accessible (both literally and figuratively), educating plant parents, and ultimately giving back to Black farmers—aka just having a kickass concept all about “good vibrations, clean air and good energy.” Rooted in Haven Farm in Knightdale (owned by her mom—Leslie Logan Brown of Logan’s Garden Shop fame), Leggett’s plan to add hours of operation at the farm (plus wine, brews and on-site yoga) has come to fruition. In September, look for Leggett to officially roll out new features, including indoor houseplant consultations, as well as greenhouse goodness (think: greenhouse space rentals, yoga classes, potting classes and continuing with greenhouse happy hour), plus new services like houseplant delivery and gifting houseplants, and a self-care monthly subscription box. And look for an online store to be added soon. Clearly, as predicted, she’s on a roll. thehouseplanthippie.com
POPULAR PLANT NAMES
+ ORLANDO BLOOM
+ SPIKE MASTER
+ MORGAN TREEMAN
+ SPIKE LEE
HARDEST PLANTS TO KILL
+ PEACE LILY
+ ZZ PLANT
+ CORN PLANT
+ SNAKE PLANT
PLANT SUPPORT GROUP
Looking to cultivate and grow your plant knowledge? Join the flourishing Raleigh Plant People Facebook group. Originally started as a community of plant experts, this page has grown to include novice plant parents and seasoned botanists alike. With posts about outdoor gardening, plant-care tips, plant swaps and plant identification, this group is perfect for anyone who needs a little more greenery in their life!
PRO TIPS FOR PLANT PARENTS
When it comes to getting into the plant game, Mast and Meyer have some advice for that as well. For Meyer, it’s doing your research. Before you run to the garden shop to pick out the prettiest, most colorful plant, look up what kinds of houseplants are best for your home environment and personal life—think: lighting, the bandwidth to water it as often as it needs, etc. “We always say buying a plant is like buying a pet,” says Meyer. “You have to know what’s going to work for you and what’s going to keep it alive.” And, of course, garden shop employees are a great resource too. “Most of us got into this because we love talking about plants,” says Mast. “Come pick our brains—we love it
SIP + SHOP
Fact or fiction: You’re 2 times more likely to buy extra plants after you’ve had a couple of drinks (what is it with alcohol making us want to spend more money?!). Well, there’s only one way to truly find out. Plant moms and dads can pop in to Atlantic Gardening Company’s Garden Bar, which became all the rage after going viral on social media (a shoutout to those millennials and late Gen Zers who have hopped on the plant craze), to enjoy an adult beverage while they shop for more plant babies to add to their collection. The bar is open every day (yes, every single day), and features local craft brews (Red Oak Bavarian Amber Lager, Clouds Hop Jam Blood Orange IPA and Crank Arm Road Hazard IPA are mainstays, while others rotate from time to time), wine and fruity-flavored mimosas. A little liquid encourage-mintnever hurt anyone… atlanticgardening.com
3 APPS FOR “POT HEADS“
Self-billed as “the app for people with plants,” Smart Plant Home features photo plant ID, a real-time chat feature with plant experts, and a care calendar. Basic free, premium $35/year, App Store, Google Play
Remembering to water your plants is hard. Enter Vera, which allows you to create a profile for each of your frond friends, plus make schedules and get reminders for watering, fertilizing and more. Free, App Store, Google Play
Set yourself up for success with Florish, aimed at helping your houseplants, well, flourish by scanning the light in your home to ensure you’re picking the best plants for space—and keeping them alive and well. Free, App Store
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