Why Right Now is the Perfect Time to Become a Plant Parent (and How to Get Started in Edmonton)!

Glass Earth Store

Interview by Tiana Kirk

The world is a scary and uncertain place to live in right now. With over 10,000 active COVID-19 cases throughout Edmonton and the four-week lockdown just beginning – now is the perfect time to fill your house with plants. If you need more convincing, according to Healthline.com, being around plants lowers levels of anxiety, increases attentiveness, memory, and productivity, reduces stress levels and boosts mood.

I have thirty-two (and counting!) plants in my 980 sq. ft. apartment and coming home to them after work or being surrounded during zoom meetings has definitely improved my mood – This wasn’t always the case.

Two years ago, in the budding months of my plant addiction, I ended up being more stressed out by my inexperience and stubbornness of not wanting to ask for help. I could’ve avoided the heartbreak of helplessly watching the finicky fiddle-leaf fig leaves plummet from the stems that I worshipped. I concocted a conspiracy that they (the leaves) had been offended by something I’d done – perhaps looking at it wrong or being too invested in its wellbeing.

I would’ve been able to recognize pest infestations and victims of over/under watering in the early stages before needing to create dedicated triage spaces – only to end up filling many garbage bag morgues. The emotional and financial toll, on many occasions, was nearly enough to scrap my hobby entirely but something stopped me each time. I really like how my house looks with the greenery and I really don’t like how fake plants look…

Cynthia Booth
photo: Glass Earth/yellowpages.ca

I interviewed Cynthia Booth, the owner of Glass Earth Inc, to get some professional insight into successful houseplant ownership and her experience running a popular local plant shop.

I’ve purchased at least seven plants from Glass Earth Inc since I moved to Oliver last year – it’s located inside Kingsway Mall on the second floor on the same stretch as Lush (if you want to double dip in serotonin purchases). Each time I have gone in intending to browse, even during the pandemic, has been pleasant and inviting; it is as if you are walking into a jungle – the air feels crisp. I always love walking by the (at least) seven foot tall white birds of paradise plants: it reminds me of past vacations to warmer countries – a welcome nostalgia as Edmonton winter encroaches.

The business is fairly young, at just six years old, but Booth has had a fascination with all things plants for as long as she can remember, giving possible credit to National Geographic magazines. I was blown away by her casual mention of her tricenarian horticultural career and collection of 155 plants (and counting!) in her home. She is now my plant-mom hero.

My curiosity was piqued as to which plant/plants were her favourite, she replied that “it changes all the time. Today, it’s my large ponytail palm…or maybe the Dragon tail epipremnum…but I really love my yellow variegated syngonium.  And I keep buying Brazil Philodendrons cause I love them too. Lol. I can’t decide!!”

I completely understood and when she added that a Mint Monstera was on her wish list – I looked it up and it’s been added to my own. I’m telling you, it’s an addiction but not one I ever want to break.

I asked Booth to break down some introductory advice for anyone, I received seven of her most important tips as well as suggestions for starter plants that are harder to kill:

1. Check which way the windows face in your house. Lighting is important.

2. Check where the plant you want is native to so you can copy the environment.

3. Always check the soil before watering by digging into the soil. Gadgets aren’t dependable and plants don’t normally do people schedules. They put YOU on the schedule.

4.  All plants need drainage. Rocks in the bottom of the pot DO NOT provide drainage. Water still pools in the bottom of the pots and creates root rot.

5.  Always look on the undersides of leaves for pests. Yes, some bugs need their veggies too!  The question is, do you feel like sharing?

6.  Keep most tropicals out of direct harsh sun or they will burn.

7. House plants are used to temperatures above 20c. Don’t take them outside when it’s -30.

8. My favourite starter plants are pothos, snake plants, draceanas, monsteras.*

Had Booth not mentioned #3, I would very likely have continued to have plants succumb to root rot. I tend to be an anxious over-waterer during school months or busy periods at work when I can’t focus my allotted amount of attention on my plants. 

As well as following Booth’s advice, if you are slightly absentminded like me, there is an app called Planta: Keep Your Plants Alive that lives up to its name. There is subscription fee for this miracle worker, but at about ten cents per day ($35.99 for the year) it’s well worth it to help remove the stress of remembering when to water.

If you’re not familiar with houseplants, you can always be sure to find them in grocery stores, at IKEA, Home Depot, Lowe’s, on Facebook Marketplace, in Facebook Groups, or at one of over twenty plant shops that Edmonton boasts.

I would recommend joining the Facebook group Edmonton Plant Club if you are interested in being a little more social with your new hobby. These groups are filled with lovely, passionate plant people who have answers to any questions you might have, and excitement to share when your baby sprouts a new leaf! They are also moderated by a dedicated team to try and ban the scammers and keep the space as welcoming as possible.

At the end of my conversation with Booth, she graciously summed up her natural ideologies:

“I guess the thing to realize is that humans came from nature. We lived in forests and jungles before we became so civilized. We need plants psychologically and physically. I think most people are becoming aware of that even if it’s subconsciously. And let’s face it, if plants make us feel good outside, it only makes sense they make us feel better in our homes as well. 💕❤️”

I was inspired and have bought three more plants since we spoke.

Here are a few of my personal favourites stores that I frequent and some services they offer for COVID precautions:

13851 127 St NW 2nd Floor (in Lucky Supermarket)
Curbside Pickup · Delivery

10826 95 St
Curbside Pickup   

Little Plant Shop
8116 Gateway Blvd NW
Curbside Pickup

Lace and Leaves Studio
5408 53 Ave NW #2
Curbside Pickup · Delivery

Ellerslie Gift & Garden
10330 Ellerslie Rd SW
780 988 6622
Curbside Pickup

And of course:

Glass Earth Inc
1 Kingsway Garden Mall NW
In-store Shopping · Online Store
Curbside Pickup · Delivery

*I own at least one of each of these and had my pride over their heartiness taken down a notch. I still love them very much and will gladly continue to take credit for their durability.