Decorating with houseplants has become a really big thing again — with the trend rivaling that of the 1960s and 1970s when they helped characterize the look of interior design.
The pandemic caused a lot of people to crave signs of life, beautiful things and a connection to the outdoors, and they found what they were looking for in plants, experts say. And they add that’s continuing as people are feeling happier and more optimistic as summer arrives.
A lovely little houseplant here and there can bring the outside into a room and give it just the right touch if you’re going for a refresh of your home for summer — and whether you’re a longtime plant parent or feel you don’t have a green thumb, you might want to give shopping at one of Long Island’s boutique plant stores a try.
"Houseplants were super popular in the '60s and '70s and they’re super popular now," says Ina Visich, the owner of North Fork Plant Co. in Wading River. The evidence is all over social media. "People were stuck at home and didn’t have an outdoor space to garden," Visich says.
If you want to go smaller when shopping for a houseplant, here’s a sampling of local stores that you might want to try.
WILD PLANT SHOP IN PORT JEFFERSON
The wildest thing about WILD is it’s a gem that’s been kept sort of secret. There’s no large identifying sign on the store, no phone number for the public, and the shop’s open only on weekends. Owner and landscaper Caitlin Carlstrom is a popular go-to for plant advice, so she fears she’d constantly be on the phone or fielding emails if she didn’t keep a low profile. Carlstrom opened the store in August and she’s filled it with lush houseplants from as far away as Asia. Look for her fab new propagation station stocked with free cuttings that customers share with one another.
"I’m a big plant person and I realized there was nowhere to go" locally for someone wanting a small plant store experience. "I was ordering plants online … The pandemic created a lot of plant people — people wanted something to care for, to watch grow, and they wanted to make their home offices beautiful." INFO 116 E. Main St.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Instagram: @wild_portjeff.
NORTH FORK PLANT CO. IN WADING RIVER
If you’re obsessed with houseplants, so is the owner, Ina Visich. She has dozens at her home in Baiting Hollow and she regularly FaceTimes with her grandmother in Russia so they can compare their plant babies. Visich’s plant shop is actually located in her yoga studio (Solntse Hot Yoga) in The Shoppes at East Wind in Wading River so there’s a Zen vibe — and a matcha bar too. Her yoga students can shop for plants during studio hours, which on some days begin as early as 5 a.m., but everyone else can shop during pop-up hours on weekends. The pop-up hours vary and are announced weekly via Instagram.
"Everything but ferns are good for beginners, they require a lot of humidity, spraying and watering," Visich says, so sans ferns, the new houseplant craze is something anyone can be a part of.
She says the houseplants selling most at her shop are succulents. "Succulents have rare and unique blooms now," Visich says. "String of pearls are super fragrant and burro’s tail, or donkey’s tail, have a bright red bloom." INFO 5768 Route 25A, Unit U; 631-965-8334; check Instagram for hours @NoFoPlantCo
MAIN STREET NURSERY IN HUNTINGTON
The Main Street Nursery website reads that it's "the one-stop shop and don’t miss destination for all things pertaining to indoor plants," and you can find a large selection of decorative pots there too. Lots of hanging plants are among the choices, and they’re a perfect option for someone who wants a lot of plants around but doesn’t have a lot of floor or surface space to accommodate them.
"We have all kinds of houseplants — palms, succulents, pothos … high light and low light plants…," says Kristen Inkpen, the greenhouse horticulturist. "We keep our greenhouse filled with healthy plants and we take into account what types of plants the customers want." She adds, "Houseplants can bring color into a home for summer, they help purify the air and they can put you in a better mood." INFO 475 Main St.; 631-549-4515; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
ZAINO’S NURSERY & GARDEN CENTER IN WESTBURY
"Providing expert advice is our pleasure" is the motto of this family-owned and operated store. They get a new batch of houseplants in on a regular basis and pep talks can be given to prospective plant parents nervous about not being up to the task. Suggestions can be made about plants that might work best in apartments or houses, and you can be pointed in the direction of those that don’t demand a ton of attention.
"You have a lot of people who live in apartments and want to decorate with plants," says Bryan Chopyk, a salesperson at the store. "We have snake plants and spider plants that don’t require a lot of water and much light, and we try to talk to customers about the proper care for plants," Chopyk adds, "We don’t want customers sticking a cactus in water and then wondering what happened to it." INFO 900 Jericho Turnpike; 516-333-7097; Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.