Green Expectations, based in Zephyrhills, Florida, was founded in 1996 and has undergone many changes over the years. One of their latest changes has been the addition of a plant shop and garden center.
Derrick Paredes, owner of Green Expectations, started the plant shop in August of 2020 and has taken advantage of the COVID-driven craze for house plants.
“What we saw was that one of the popular trends going on was house plants and we just happened to have moved into a bigger building that had this showcase room,” Paredes says. “We had no idea what to do with it. We had our back offices. We had our warehouse. We had places for trucks to be parked. And then we had this awkward showcase room that the previous tenants were using to store everything from gloves to garden equipment.”
Green Expectations transformed the space by creating a rustic, farmhouse aesthetic and filled the place with plants as a nice retail location.
“It’s doubling as a place we work out of, but also we’re getting the most we can out it, so we jumped on the popular trend of house plants,” Paredes says.
Currently, they are just selling house plants since it’s the most in-demand. For locals, Paredes says eventually the space will be a full garden center because they have a lot of space but for the online shop it will be house plants only.
Green Expectations monitors forums and Facebook groups to see what house plants are popular and which are not. Paredes says rare aroids are selling a lot and then the staples like ZZ plants, calatheas, and Pilea peperomioides are also selling well.
“A lot of the people are looking for low maintenance, like the beginners, and then you have your people who are looking at more rare stuff,” Paredes says. “It’s a good mix of novice houseplant people that want to get started and then you have your people that are collectors that want the rare stuff.”
He says it hasn’t been hard to source the plant material so far as Florida is a hub for places that grow and get unique plants from overseas. He says it did take some time getting to know these wholesalers though.
Green Expectations offers local delivery as well as online shopping and delivers across the country. He says having these shopping options has increased the usage of their plant shop.
“Nationally, Florida’s a hub for cool exotic plants people don’t have access to so they come and shop from us and we’re able to deliver it around the country,” he says.
When it comes to shipping plants across the country, Green Expectations has developed a method that keeps the plant in soil.
“We learned a lot this past winter,” Paredes says. “Going to the cold, we have to use insulation. We have to use 72-hour heat packs and Priority Mail. We emphasize to the customers that they have to get Priority Mail.”
With the current shipping crisis, Paredes says there have been instances of delays of seven or 10 days even with Priority Mail. They offer their customers a credit in instances where the delay was dramatic and something else could have been done differently. He says for the credit they will postpone mailing the plants until the warmer months.
“We do have a stipulation where we say it is a live plant,” Paredes says. “We don’t control shipping.”
With people being cooped up due to COVID-19, Paredes says house plants are one way to bring the outside in. Even once the pandemic subsides, he says they’ll keep selling house plants at the shop.
“I think it’s a niche that will continue to grow, pun intended,” Paredes says. “House plant people are a different breed. There’s a lot of people that know each other from across the country and it’s a real tight-knit group of people that just love everything to do with house plants. It’s been something that we’re definitely going to stick with because we’ve hired staff that have become really knowledgeable and put systems in place to make sure that we have fresh plants, that they’re being taken care of and maintained. It’s just become part of our budget now to make sure that we have that for the plant shop.”
He says they’re going to grow the shop a little bit more by selling pots, soil and fertilizers. The plant shop also helps feed into their other services. Paredes says people who buy house plants from them will ask about Green Expectations doing design and installation for the outside of their house as well. He says they’re also looking to get into interiorscaping for commercial clients.
“A lot of people are looking at ways to make their office space more inviting,” Paredes says. “There’s been scientific studies that show that house plants reduce stress and make you more innovative, more creative and more productive.”