Pandemic. Quarantine. Long winter days. All recipes for the blahs as we look for the first signs of spring. The surprise cure? Plants. Yes, those green luxuries that seem to breathe life and color into a room.
Plants indeed breathe into a room. According to Danny Parker, owner of The Plant Parlor, plants remove chemicals from the air using their natural respiration processes. Studies, he said, show that plants reduce dust in a room by up to 20% by adding humidity to the air.
If that’s the case, The Plant Parlor, the business he opened in late 2018, has got the cleanest air around. Parker has filled the small store on Wealthy Street with a wide range of tropical plants from Piper Peperomia to Aglaonema, from cacti to Snake Plant. Prices range from as low as $6 for a tiny succulent to as high as $375 for a giant cactus.
“My motto is ‘right plant, right place,’” said Parker, who has a background in commercial plant production. He did his higher education in Orlando after graduating from South Christian High School in Grand Rapids.
“Plants have exploded over the last couple of years. My personal view is that millennials can’t afford children, so plants are something to nurture and care for,” he said. “Also, social media keeps the trend going as one person sees posts about plants and then wants to have plants, too.”
“Having something to nurture and be responsible for can have wide-ranging benefits.”
While Parker may be tongue-in-cheek about plants and millennials, he’s serious about the physical and mental benefits of adding plants to any home. “Indoor air pollution is usually up to three times higher inside than outside due to off-gassing from building materials, furniture, carpet, flooring and flame retardants,” he said. “Plants help remove those chemicals from the air.”
There also can be mental health benefits. “Having something to nurture and be responsible for can have wide-ranging benefits,” he said. “Self-esteem grows when a plant flourishes, anxiety and depression can be reduced as you care for the plant, and plants can bring back a connection with nature.”
Parker says he hasn’t seen a decrease in sales throughout the pandemic. In part, he credits workers who saw plants at work moving home and wanting to replicate that look in their homes. “Once a person brings a plant into his or her home, he begins to see the aesthetic value of plants and how they liven up a room,” he said.
The Plant Parlor is the only solely tropical indoor plant store in Grand Rapids, selling plants through the physical store, 1059 Wealthy St. SE, and online and offering a loyalty program. Parker doesn’t sell annuals such as begonias or petunias — those are cheaper at a greenhouse — nor orchids, but this spring he will have citrus trees, olive trees and herbs added to the mix of tropical plants.
For those interested in adding plants to a home, “my advice is to talk to someone who is knowledgeable to maximize your chance of success,” Parker said. “This can help with in-depth information when buying, as well as afterward if you have a problem with your plant.”
This story can be found in the April 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox each month, subscribe here.