Houseplants ‘a hot, hot trend,’ and a lifeline in the pandemic

Stuck at home for months on end during the pandemic, it seems many people have turned to houseplants for solace.

For some picking up a plant or two was a new way to pass the time. For others what had been an interest grew into a passion.

It couldn’t have come at a better time for Sharon McIntyre, the owner of Bloom House in Kensington. McIntyre opened her business in November 2019, with no idea of the storm she was sailing into.

“COVID did give me a boost, believe it or not. I thought we’d have to be closing the doors. But being a new business, I really needed to find a way to stay open,” she said.

Sharon McIntyre in her shop in Kensington. (Submitted by Sharon McIntyre)

“Plants really took off. It’s just such a hot, hot trend. And it actually worked out to be a very good time to start.”

Eileen Conboy, administrator of the popular Facebook group P.E.I. Plant Pals, saw that interest grow in the popularity of her page, which she started just so she and a couple dozen friends could share tips. It now has almost 4,000 members.

Conboy, who is a psychological counsellor in her professional life, believes people saw a lot of benefits to taking care of plants during the pandemic.

“I think everyone is really, you know, feeling that lack of control in the world and looking for opportunities to, you know, to have a little life in front of them that they can influence and care for,” she said.

‘We’re really looking for the green,’ says Eileen Conboy. (Submitted by Eileen Conboy)

“Also we’re stuck at home. So I think we’re really looking for the green and the life to bring into our spaces.”

McIntyre said with the growing popularity of houseplants suppliers have stepped up their game, and she is seeing more varieties becoming available even in the short time she has been in business.

But Mel Guray, an enthusiast with more than 100 potted plants in his home, including some rare specimens, said he doesn’t recommend people who are thinking about getting into houseplants start with anything unusual.

Mel Guray has more than 100 potted plants in his P.E.I. home. (Submitted by Mel Guray)

“I usually tell them you go with the peace lily,” said Guray.

“They are a good indoor, low-light, you know, set and forget plant. But if they need water, they just droop, and water them and they come back.”

After spending some time with your peace lily, if you’re still interested in a higher risk/higher reward plant, then you’ll have some experience to work with and will be less likely to be disappointed.

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