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Fancy Plants growing a following

The pandemic encouraged a Timmins woman to start a home-based plant business

Indoor plants have several benefits for one’s wellbeing, including uplifting your mood, increasing work productivity and eliminating harmful toxins.

Houseplant ownership has increased significantly among residents of Timmins over recent years, especially with the COVID-19 lockdowns having people working from home more often and wanting to brighten up their space.

Melissa Anne Silverson, the moderator of Timmins and Area Plant Swap community on Facebook, said she has seen increased interest in owning and propagating indoor plants — maybe because people see collecting plants as a “safe” and “therapeutic” hobby.

“Almost everyone was home. Many businesses were closed. It was a hobby we were still able to do, especially when we were able to do contactless plant trades…It helped keep us together as a community, at least I feel," said Silverson.

The Facebook plant community in Timmins was started in April 2020 by Silverson’s friends, Shauncy Gelineau, Erika Johnson, Emjay Perreault, Brittney Larocque, Keisha Keown, and Sarah Evans, with 250 members. It then quickly increased to 500 members, and by the end of the year, when the pandemic hit, the plant enthusiasts ballooned to 1,000. Currently, the group has 1,100 members.

Through the Timmins and Area Plant Swap, where all “planties” get together virtually and talk about plant sales, plant jokes or memes, and have a weekly plant swap or selling, Silverson was encouraged to start a home-based plant business.

Silverson, a former child and youth worker, shared that the pandemic pushed her to be a stay-at-home mother and focus more on taking care of her children, especially guiding them with their distance learning. This encouraged her to start a home-based business, the Fancy Plants Timmins in April this year.

“My business began after I was moderating Timmins and Area Plant Swap (Community) on Facebook for about a year. I had already been selling or trading plants for months, and decided to take a leap and make it official,” she said.

Silverson has a variety of plant collections of pothos, monstera, begonia, alocasia, and cactus. Her favourite plants to take care of are monstera delciosa and alocasia frydek as these plants work well when placed along a north-facing window with normal humidity.

She advised individuals planning to own and take care of a plant that during the winter season, indoor plants do not need more attention and more watering.

“For overwinter care, plants don’t need quite as much attention. You taper off fertilizing over the fall, they need less water over the cold months, and it is not recommended to repot. Make sure they are not too close to a cold winter and are still getting light,” she said, adding that “planties” need to continue trimming any dead and dry foliage.

Good starter plants, she said, are the ones that do not require much special care, lighting conditions, or occasional watering, like ZZ plants, Christmas cactus, sansevieria and pothos.

“Do your research on the plants before buying and bringing them home if possible. Double-check its light, water, humidity, and soil requirements. Quarantine your new plants, even if you do not see bugs, no exceptions. Trust me. Have fun with it! Bring home that weird plant that no one else likes. Ask plant friends for some cuttings and join an internet plant group,” she added.

Aside from selling plants, she helps her customers, especially those new plant-parents, on how to fix or take care of their plants. Recently she organized a donation campaign for Orange Shirt Society, where donors can win a plant and an orange shirt.

She will be hosting a Succulent and Cactus workshop in December, and will be focusing more on teaching “planties” on plant maintenance and care guides for the cold winter months.

“Most of my customers are repeat customers, and often have nice things to say. I actually encourage people to reach out if they are having questions or problems. If someone has an issue I would much rather know about it so I am able to fix it to the best of my ability and learn/improve from the experience,” she said.

In the future, Silverson plans to create the Fancy Plants Timmins website and eventually open a brick-and-mortar shop.