Owner Kait Waugh is shown at her store called the Fat Plant Farm in Regina on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

‘Plant boom:’ Working from home, pandemic stress has people turning green

“I definitely did not expect sales to double”

As Kait Waugh closed the doors of her indoor plant shop when COVID-19 hit in the spring, she thought “uh-oh.”

“When people are out shopping and almost panic buying and looking for toilet paper, houseplants I definitely thought would not be on top of people’s minds,” says Waugh, owner of Fat Plant Farm in Regina.

Nine months later, when her shop reopened with limited customer capacity, pickup and delivery service, she says her “doom and gloom” worries didn’t materialize.

Instead, it’s been a “plant boom.”

“I definitely did not expect sales to double.”

Waugh and others in the plant world say millions of Canadians working from home and dealing with pandemic stress have spurred a growth in demand for greenery from big, leafy houseplants and cacti to seeds for gardens.

“It’s probably one of our best years yet,” says Bryan Moffat, retail operations manager at West Coast Gardens in Surrey, B.C. “We’ve never seen so many people want to start growing seeds.”

READ MORE: Conceived and born in a pandemic: December babies show unique experience of pregnancy

He attributes that to people’s anxiety about access to groceries and wanting to grow their own vegetables.

The Canadian Garden Council reported an increase in people tending their gardens, although some greenhouses struggled under provincial COVID-19 restrictions.

Waugh admits it has been difficult to get her hands on plants and even pottery because of demand and supply-chain challenges.

She says many requests have come from people looking to set up home offices and wanting to bring some of the outdoors inside.

Snowbirds who are forgoing their annual escape south to warmer temperatures also seem to be making a return to houseplants, Waugh adds.

“Nurturing houseplants really nurtures yourself.”

Waugh believes her business boom is due to her having an online presence and to customers shopping locally.

Moffat’s garden centre sells a mix of plants, lifestyle items and decor. He believes “people just need their home environment to feel good” or may be seeking air-purifying plants.

“If they were short of money, it didn’t seem to be holding (them) back when it came to spending on that.”

He says more people in their 20s and 30s have been coming in. There have also been more customers who are new to houseplants.

Moffat notes an uptick in the sale of tropicals, which he believes homeowners like because their lushness provides the feeling of being somewhere else.

“I think that’s what people are looking for.”

Cheney Creamer of the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association says people talking to their plants used to be a joke, but that may be the only option now for workers stuck at home without colleagues.

Creamer says a simple houseplant in a windowless room can reduce stress. Therapeutic gardening is helpful to those who feel alone, like seniors.

“Being able to have gardens or a houseplant to be able to care for, that sense of caregiving is a really big aspect of people not feeling so isolated.”

There are some plants that haven’t seen as much demand.

The president of the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance says sales of some flowers were down because weddings were postponed. And shutdowns that include flower shops with cut blooms are also problematic.

“Highly perishable plants don’t wait … when they need to go to market,” Dave Captein said in a statement.

Sue Baker, a vice-president at Sheridan Nurseries with eight stores in Ontario, says being unable to socialize has meant fewer sales of blooms such as potted lilies or daffodils often given as gifts.

It’s why over the holidays the vibrant red leaves of poinsettias are missing from many countertops.

“Corporate offices aren’t decorating. A lot of schools … every year used to do a fundraiser with poinsettias.

“That didn’t happen this year.”

READ MORE:People yearn to connect across borders amid pandemic holiday

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 25, 2020.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Surrey Mayor delivering “virtual” State of the City Address on Tuesday. (Screen shot)
Surrey Mayor says city is ‘earning accolades from near and far’

Doug McCallum delivered his second State of the City Address on Tuesday since being elected in 2018

Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society volunteers stand on the train platform in Cloverdale in 2020. A new exhibit about FVHRS and Surrey’s train history opens at the Museum of Surrey June 2. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
New exhibition on Surrey’s train history to open at Museum of Surrey

Separate two-day event welcomes kids June 25-26

Shannon Claypool, president of the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association, stands outside the Cloverdale Rec. Centre. The rec. centre has been set up as a mass vaccination site by Fraser Health and the Association has decided to cancel the rodeo in order to offer the fairgrounds for public parking. (Submitted)
Second year in a row it’ll be quiet on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds over May Long Weekend

Shannon Claypool says planning for next year is already underway

The George Massey Tunnel will be closed overnight May 28 and 29 to test the tunnel’s fire suppression system and overhead lane control signals. (Black Press Media file photo)
Overnight Massey Tunnel closures coming May 28, 29

Closure to allow safe testing of tunnel’s fire suppression system and overhead lane control signals

North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex. (Photo: larkgroup.com)
North Surrey rink, Newton playground earn B.C. excellence awards

Awards presented by BC Recreation and Parks Association

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Cat who chases away coyote asked to join Port Moody, Vancouver police 

Caught on camera Friday, the black cat jumps out from under a parked car and runs the wild animal out of a vacant lot

White Rock’s Marine Drive is being restricted to single-lane one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants, with indoor dining restricted from the end of March to some time after the May 24 weekend. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Names of those aboard the ship are seen at Komagata Maru monument in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

Vincent Doumeizel, senior advisor at the United Nations Global Compact on Oceans, as well as director for the Food Programme for the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, pulls up some sugar kelp seaweed off the French coast in April 2020. He was the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony of the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival. (Vincent Doumeizel/Submitted)
Let’s hear it for seaweed: slimy, unsexy and the world’s greatest untapped food source

Experts talks emerging industry’s challenges and potential at Sidney inaugural Seawood Days Festival

Troy Patterson, a Cadboro Bay 15-year-old, got a virtual meeting with B.C.’s environment minister months after he started an online petition calling for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to stop. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
B.C. teen’s 23,000-name Coastal GasLink petition gets him an audience with the minister

15-year-old Saanich high school student and George Heyman discussed project for about 30 minutes

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

Those who disobey could be subject to a $230 fine

Most Read