Polly Creech thinks that plants positively affect mental health, especially in the middle of a pandemic. As the owner of Hyacinth Bean Florist, 540 W. Union St., she’s heard customers say that they feel depressed or anxious, but when they're taking care of their plants, they feel grounded. Creech also tells her customers that plants clean the air, so it's beneficial to have plants in their home environment.
“I think plants are really, really helpful during this pandemic,” Creech said. “They give people something to look forward to. I would highly recommend plants to anyone feeling anxious or depressed or at odds with reality right now.”
Hyacinth Bean has had an increase in plant sales, even more so than flower sales. The shop has sold a lot of Pothos, an easy-care plant that vines. If customers want to start a collection of them, they carry five or six different kinds and can have different variations in different rooms.
“People have also really loved succulents and so we've sold quite a few succulents, especially to students that only have maybe a small amount of room in their apartment,” Creech said.
Hyacinth Bean isn’t the only plant shop in town where succulents have been popular. Tyler Schloss, co-owner of White’s Mill, 2 Whites Mill Dr., agrees that houseplants are popular.
“Anything to do with gardening and growing this year has been pretty big,” Schloss said. “A lot of house plants, but also a lot of just outside plants and mulch and soils. Across the board, succulents have definitely taken off in popularity. Just before this hit, it was kind of a trend and then I think this is now kind of a therapy.”
Lindsey Long, the retail manager at Greenleaf Landscapes, 340 Columbus Rd., also said that Greenleaf’s plant sales have been up this year.
“Even things like annuals, vegetables and herbs, especially, sold out even through my vendors very quickly this year,” Long said. “So normally, I'd be able to reorder those things through June and many of those things were sold out right around Mother’s Day. From what I've heard, everybody in the garden center industry had a pretty good year. You know, I assume more people were home and had time to garden or were looking at their yards and wanting to do something.”
At Greenleaf, the shipment of bigger tropical plants flew off the shelves. They had several Monsteras that were popular.
“I just got in this past week a shipment of foliage plants and all the hanging baskets are going really fast,” Long said. “So, things like Pothos, Wandering Jew, Bridalveil, all those things have been really popular.”
To many people, plants can be a form of therapy. For example, microbes in soil increase serotonin, a chemical that increases happiness in the body. Mycobacterium vaccae is a bacterium in soil that has “been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide,” according to Regeneration International. “Studies were conducted on cancer patients and they reported a better quality of life and less stress.”
“A lot of people have expressed that they are spending more time at home, and they love taking care of plants and having plants in their home,” Creech said. “And so, they have (come) in to buy more plants; it’s kind of like therapy.”
Long has been a gardener for over 20 years and said that when people have plants, they feel nurturing and that they are tending to something.
“It's nice to care about something and maybe feel like you have a little bit of control over something when a lot of things seem like they're sort of out of our control,” Long said.
Schloss also agrees that having plants is therapeutic. “I think it's just an escape and… to watch things grow and keep it living, it's just kind of a therapy for people.”
For Long, having plants can be healing and meditative because gardeners have to be in touch with nature and pay attention to outdoor or indoor conditions, light and humidity, amongst other things.
Long has a green thumb but thinks that killing plants is all a part of it. People who have a tendency to kill plants should look at it as a learning experience.
“I have a plant that I killed in the past (and) I tried to figure out what happened, what went wrong and then trying again,” Long said. “I feel like it's a really rewarding experience when you kind of troubleshoot and you figure out that learning…because (some plants) really are divas and they're just going to be difficult.”
Long also suggests belonging to Facebook groups, communities of people that are caring for plants and to listen to podcasts.
“Even just kind of scrolling through people's questions or what other people's experience is, I feel like you learn a lot of that trouble-shooting method,” Long said. “Brown leaf edges and tips tends to be a humidity issue…and that's something that maybe you wouldn't know if you didn't see ten different people asking about it and that's the common answer. So, I always tell people to sort of belong to plant communities, whether that's in person communities or online communities.”