Online house plants brought to your doorstep: the new area of home delivery has seen fresh growth as homebound urbanites gravitate toward green.
Striped, curvy snake plants and bright-green fiddle-leaf fig are in demand not just because they’re the hot new décor trend but because they offer benefits to a population coping with the stress of a pandemic.
“We’re coming out of a 20-year struggle,” Kevin Tholenaars, of the new Plantsome Canada estore, says of the business. “If you talk to some of the nurseries and second- or third-generation growers, there’s been a lull for the last 20 years. But it’s really reinvigorated now.
“There have always been people who are into plants, but it’s definitely attracting a wider audience now,” he continues. “I get questions every day from people saying, ‘I’ve never had a plant; what should I get?’ And because people are spending so much more time at home, they want a more calming environment.”
Tholenaars points out that people are wanting to elevate the look of their home—something even more important as Zoom brings your coworkers to your living room.
“People are sharing more of their personal space onscreen and plants help elevate the entire look,” Tholenaars says.
Over at Vancouver’s Plant Therapy, Narin Ramcharitar and Elaine Simandl have seen similar demand. They set up their bricks-and-mortar shop in 2019, when they were already seeing the beginnings of an uptick in the home-greenery business, but they had to shut it down due to COVID-19 this spring and move everything to an online estore that offers pickup and delivery.
“We didn’t know what to expect; we weren’t sure what we’d be doing,” Ramcharitar says, “but it’s helped people and they’ve opened up and told us how much they’ve loved the plants.”
“It’s therapeutic watching a new leaf open,” Simandl adds.
She’s right. Science has shown several reasons for why houseplants are helping us cope right now. NASA research has revealed that home greenery can remove up to 87 percent of air toxin in 24 hours.
Other academic studies have proven indoor plants reduce stress levels and boost your mood. They are even supposed to improve concentration and productivity by up to 15 percent—a plus during the pandemic’s work-from-home mandate.
Then there are the less quantitative reasons for the rise in plant geekdom. Let’s start with Yoga With Adriene, the YouTube sensation that has shot up to 6.6 million subscribers since COVID-19 hit. Who doesn’t covet her majestic Monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant) and spikey Dracaena marginata (dragon tree) as they try to stretch away their home-office aches and pains?
You can also thank social media, which has been driving the plant trend. The Facebook group House Plant Hobbyist has more than 327,000 members from across the globe, and free apps like GardenTags and GrowIt encourage users to interact with other green thumbs. Just search houseplants, indoor jungle, or simply Monstera on Pinterest for an idea of how leafy home décor has become.
Online retailers, too, have been able to leverage the digital sphere to connect people and plants. Plantsome, which launched in Canada in March—nerve-rackingly, right as COVID-19 was hitting—delivers AAA-grade plant babies from local nurseries throughout B.C. and delivers them to your door.
The easy-to-navigate site features little icons over photos: a cat for pet-friendly, snapping fingers for ease of care. It also has its own app that monitors local weather (temperature, humidity, and more) to let you know when and how much to water, plus when to give it fertilizer. Plants arrive in a specially engineered box that keeps your new green friend intact.
“There’s a little more that goes into a plant than shipping a laptop or something,” Tholenaars says.
Plant Therapy, on the other hand, relies on its own team of couriers to give the plants the care they need for the journey.
“We couldn’t really be doing what we’re doing right now without social media and an online store. We don’t even have a store phone number; we find it easier to respond by social media or email,” Ramcharitar says.
Making plant-care info easy and accessible is also key.
“We want people to have success with their first and second plant. It goes back to mental health as part of it as well, just seeing success,” Ramcharitar explains. “One thing we try to express is there’s basic care tips for every plant, but every home is different. Some people keep the house warmer; some keep it cooler. So we do a lot of follow-up with our customers as well, utilizing social media and technology.”
With those variables in mind, here are two of the easiest-care varieties recommended by the home-delivery experts, followed by one for slightly more advanced plant lovers.
There are more than five dozen species of this sleek, serpentine, and ridiculously easy-to-care-for plant. Coming in different shades of green, snakes have vertical yellow or horizontal white stripes.
“They are very, very hardy and can take heat or take cold, low light or bright light,” Tholenaars says. Seek out the Sansevieria trifasciata, so dramatic it has served as prominent set decoration in cult flicks like Being John Malkovich and Blue Velvet. Or try the demure S. laurentii, with its dappled gray-green leaves.
The Zamioculcas zamiifolia adds height to empty corners, sprouting dark-green, shiny leaves. It can handle even the most dismal of light.
“It’s great for people starting to join the plant community who want to have something new in their home,” Simandl says.
Dubbing it the “camel of plants”, Plant Therapy includes it on its Easy Care Plants list with this straight-to-the-point Owners Status description: “I’ve never owned a plant before / I kill everything (Novice).”
The Ficus lyrata, or fiddle-leaf fig, is all the rage these days, its burst of large, shiny leaves a gorgeous foil to minimalistic, all-white décor.
“They’re stunning to look at. However, they do require you to spend a little more time and care to make sure the plant is thriving,” Tholenaars warns.
“You don’t want to overwater or underwater.”
And from Simandl: “We call it the Goldilocks of plants: it doesn’t want too much wet; it doesn’t want too much light. It’s pretty finicky.”