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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Valley woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

First in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Comox woman on fence books vaccine due to brother’s death

Leela Harrop says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Most categories of crime held steady from year to year in Cumberland. File photo
Cumberland crime numbers hold steady year to year

A few categories had notable changes but many were similar to 2019

The colourful Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly has been reintroduced on Hornby Island, BC. Photo courtesy the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project.
Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project releases more caterpillars on Hornby Island

Chris Junck Special to Black Press The number of Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies… Continue reading

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

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

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Most Read