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

Dallas Lajimodiere is wanted by the Abbotsford Police Department.
Man wanted by Abbotsford Police domestic violence unit

Dallas Lajimodiere has three arrest warrants, including for assault with a weapon

Russell Jonathon George Gurney was last seen in Chilliwack in mid-December. (RCMP photo)
RCMP ask for help to find missing Abbotsford man last seen in Chilliwack

Police and family are concerned for the well-being of Russell Jonathon George Gurney

Grade 6 students at Eugene Reimer Middle School have been participating in the Equity Backpack Project. (Submitted photo)
Equity Backpack Project in Abbotsford addresses inclusion and anti-racism

Grade 6 teacher Nerlap Sidhu says she wants students to develop ‘strong sense of self’

The UFV Cascades women’s basketball program has announced the signing of Langley’s Esther Allison and Edmonton’s Charley Arnold for 2021. (UFV Cascades photo)
Langley’s Allison, Edmonton’s Arnold signed by UFV Cascades

Women’s basketball program adds pair of recruits for 2021, reporting to Abbotsford later this year

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

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

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Most Read