REXBURG – Nearly two years after the onset of COVID-19, there’s been a massive shift in the way people think and behave.
Supply chain shortages and an uptick in cases of mental illness are an ongoing side effect of the pandemic. Many businesses and health professionals look for ways to combat it.
At the peak of the outbreak when isolation requirements were being mandated, people found relief in outdoor hobbies. Throughout 2020, EastIdahoNews.com reported on massive spikes in outdoor recreation — specifically biking and RV sales. Another activity that’s generated renewed interest is gardening and caring for house plants.
For Alex and Alexys Owens of Rexburg, indoor house plants have become a mutual interest over the last several years. As they’ve perused the annals of social media, they’ve gained a particular fascination with tropical plants.
“When we got married, we bought a coconut tree. We just wanted to have something fun and exotic,” Alex tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Alexys grew up in St. Anthony and is a lifelong plant connoisseur and horticulture enthusiast. But for Alex, a Logan, Utah native who works full-time as a software developer, potted plants are an acquired taste.
Over time, he’s become enamored with having them around the house and he’s now at a point where he “feels a high” from acquiring, maintaining and selling plants.
A wildly successful effort in selling plants at the Rexburg Farmer’s Market last year made the duo realize there were others who shared their affinity for botanical foliage and they started exploring other ways to make money at it.
Fast forward a few months and the Owens are now the owners of a house plant shop in Rexburg. AA PlantHouse opened Monday at 155 West Main Street, Suite 9 and Alex says it’s off to a great start.
“Business was really good,” he says of opening day sales. “We didn’t advertise at all. It was all word of mouth and … we got a lot of support from the community. We were selling plants left and right. It was awesome!” he says.
The shop specializes in common and rare indoor plants and most of the offerings are tropical plants from around the world. Among them are Monsteras, a Hawaiian plant commonly known as the swiss cheese plant because it has leaves covered with holes.
The store also offers Philodendrons, a perennial plant native to Central and South America with large green and glossy leaves, and Hoyas, a plant grown in semi-arid climates that has deep green vining foliage and produces fragrant, light pink and red star-shaped flowers.
“They do very well here in Idaho — indoors, of course,” Alex says of the Hoya plants.
Most of the plants are shipped from Florida and Canada.
When it comes to shopping for indoor house plants in eastern Idaho, there are numerous options available to customers. Alex says the main motivation for opening their store was to help combat mental illness.
“We feel like it’s important, especially in our community … being in the dead of winter with low humidity and very little sunlight, mental health is a really big deal here,” Alex explains. “My wife and I both have our challenges with mental health but growing these plants in our house and watching them thrive has helped us a lot.”
Affinity Health Corp points to a 2007 study that determined a bacterium in plant soil triggers the release of serotonin, which lifts your mood and reduces anxiety.
Like the plants they own, the Owens are putting down roots and they hope to see their shop continue to thrive and grow. They’re planning to host workshops to help educate people about taking care of plants and they’d like to eventually have multiple greenhouses and provide jobs for college students.
AA PlantHouse is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday with a 9 p.m. closing time Friday and Saturday.