Indiana Daily Student

Bloomington nursery owners fulfill pandemic-driven houseplant demand

<p>Dozens of plants appear on display inside the houseplant greenhouse at Mays Greenhouse, located at 6280 Old State Road 37, on Jan. 11. Many local nurseries, including Mays, have benefited from people choosing gardening as a new hobby during recent months. </p>

Dozens of plants appear on display inside the houseplant greenhouse at Mays Greenhouse, located at 6280 Old State Road 37, on Jan. 11. Many local nurseries, including Mays, have benefited from people choosing gardening as a new hobby during recent months.

Mays Greenhouse owner Jason Fulton was surprised this summer to see many of his plants had sold out by the beginning of the season. Oak. manager Alexis Six and students attributed the increase in sales to a pandemic induced demand for houseplants.

Bloomington residents can purchase a variety of houseplants from a few businesses around town. 

Oak. is a retail boutique specializing in houseplants and plant decor located on the corner of Fourth and Grant streets. Six said the owner, Talia Halliday, signed the lease in March, right before the country-wide COVID-19 shutdowns. 

“We couldn’t open our doors until around August,” Six said.

Six said he noticed increased attraction to plants during quarantine. 

“I definitely have a lot of people tell me that they didn't have anything else to do in quarantine, so they just took care of plants,” he said. “I know that’s kinda what happened with me.”

The houseplant greenhouse is open to customers at Mays Greenhouse, located at 6280 Old State Road 37, on Jan. 11. Nurseries have been a popular destination in recent months, as many people are finding comfort in caring for plants during the pandemic. Mallorey Daunhauer

“I definitely have a lot of people tell me that they didn't have anything else to do in quarantine, so they just took care of plants,” he said. “I know that’s kinda what happened with me.” 

Six said the trendiness of houseplants will most likely continue in the new year, attributing their draw to younger people’s attraction to nature and the outdoors.

“I think it's going to keep happening,” Six said. “Younger people are wanting more nature, more sustainable leisure options in their lives, so they’re going to get into this, it’ll just take some time.”

Mays Greenhouse is a garden center and plant nursery that supplies many popular houseplants. According to May’s website, founders Marshall and Emma May first began selling plants from the side of their yard. They opened up a shop in spring of 1965. While the greenhouse sells a variety of houseplants, it also offers gardening supplies and other outdoor essentials. 

Houseplants hang on display at Mays Greenhouse,located at 6280 Old State Road 37, on Jan. 11. Mays Greenhouse is one of a few local nurseries that sells houseplants and other plants year round. Mallorey Daunhauer

Fulton said traffic in the store has been heavier than normal last spring. 

“Definitely a lot of people sitting at home thinking about plants,” Fulton said. “Things we normally wouldn’t sell out of until the summer went really quickly last spring.

Although Mays Greenhouse supplies many of the plants younger people are buying, Fulton said the business also drew in many older customers during quarantine, mostly homeowners looking to fill extra time with home and garden improvements.

“It wasn’t just plants, everything for the yard too,” Fulton said. “People looking at a dead patch of grass and thinking ‘oh, we can do something about that,’ all the way around.”

Varieties of cacti are ready for new homes at Mays Greenhouse, located at 6280 Old State Road 37, on Jan. 11. Mays Greenhouse offers a variety of houseplants, tropical plants, gardening supplies and more year round. Mallorey Daunhauer

IU junior Sophie Langfitt was one of the many college students who chose to follow the trend of gardening throughout the pandemic. 

“My family has always had plants around the house, and during quarantine over the summer I became really invested in taking care of our outdoor garden, so much that it developed into a minor obsession,” Langfitt said.

Langfitt said she brought a few plants from home when she came back to IU last semester. She said she buys more plants when she has the time and money. 

She finds the hobby therapeutic in a time when other outlets are limited, she said. Since she spends a lot of time inside, Langfitt said taking care of plants is a cheap and easy way to destress.

“Seeing the plants healthy and growing is really rewarding,” Langfitt said. “It has become really important to find an outlet for stress, and also just to find other things to focus on.”

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