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

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday that the province may consider a regional approach to loosening COVID-19 restrictions if numbers continue to decline. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Province further easing health restrictions

Numbers of people hospitalized and in intensive care has dropped dramatically, says premier

Eric Rajah, co-founder of A Better World. (Photo Submitted)
Two Lacombe residents recieve award from Governor General for chairty work

Eric Rajah and Brian Leavitt co-founded A Better World, a charity which started in Lacombe in 1990

Kjeryn Dakin, owner of Bukz, Bukwildz and Doe(s) Pizza on Lakeshore Drive, has been nominated for the Women Entrepreneur of Distinction award by the Alberta Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake business woman nominated for provincial and national award

Kjeryn Dakin is nominated for two female entrepreneur awards on a provincial and national scale

File photo
Alberta’s central zone has 670 active cases

301 new cases identified Sunday

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

A ” Justice for Jeff” T-shirt. (Photo submitted)
Rally to be held outside Red Deer courthouse for slain Ponoka man

Sentencing for accused charged with manslaughter with a firearm set for March 4

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Time to check the mail: Every household to receive a Canada Post postcard this spring

Postcard can be mailed for free to any address in Canada

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

AstraZeneca’s vaccines are ready for use at the vaccination center in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb.28, 2021. (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP)
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

The first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday

People line up outside a vaccine clinic as seniors wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton Alta, on Friday February 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Health Services head sorry for glitches in vaccine booking system for seniors

AHS president said technical issues have been fixed and a virtual waiting room is in place

Vandalism is shown on Alberta NDP MLA Janis Irwin’s constituency office in Edmonton in this handout photo on Saturday, February 27, 2021. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney quickly condemned vandalism at an Opposition legislature member Janis Irwin’s Edmonton office after the MLA posted pictures showing her front window spray-painted with the words “Antifa Liar.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Janis Irwin *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

Edmonton MLA Janis Irwin posted pictures showing the front window spray-painted with the words ‘Antifa Liar’

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Most Read