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'It's like the 1970s': seed, plant sales growing to new heights during pandemic

Last Updated Jan 18, 2021 at 8:07 pm PST


The plant business continues to bloom, with one shop saying the interest brought on by the pandemic hasn't slowed growth

Thomas Hobbs who owns Southlands Nursery says he has already re-ordered more seeds

'It's like the 1970s all over again when plant boom hit that time and there were plant shops and fern bars,' Hobbs says

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Nearly a year after interest in home gardening sprouted at the beginning of the pandemic, some of it appears to be perennial, according to a local plant nursery.

“It’s just been insane since COVID started,” Thomas Hobbs, owner of Southlands Nursery in Vancouver, tells NEWS 1130.

“It’s like the 1970s all over again when plant boom hit that time and there were plant shops and fern bars.”

Hobbs says the interest in gardening has continued since last March when pandemic shutdowns left many people with extra time on their hands.

“People who never gardened in their lives have nothing to do, and they all decided, ‘I’m going to start gardening, I’m going to show the kids how to grow tomatoes,'” Hobbs says.

Around March is usually the time gardeners will start stocking up on seeds, but Hobbs describes it as a “tsunami” of interest.

He says wholesalers couldn’t keep up with the need for seed and had even run out of packaging at that time.

In 2020, he estimates sales were up 50 per cent compared to the previous year.

No rush to plant, but seeds going fast

While it’s still too early to try to plant vegetable seeds in the earth, it seems like it isn’t too early to start planning a garden, Hobbs says.

This year, he says people have learned their lesson, and they’re shopping early.

“There’s no panic to sow the seeds yet, but there is a panic to get hold of what you want,” he says.

Despite it being the middle of January, Hobbs says he has already had to re-order vegetable seeds.

Hobbs says he has noticed a trend around indoor plants, particularly among young people, around 18 to 27 years old. He says there has been an uptick in rare begonia and rare orchid sales with more people building indoor cabinets and humidity cupboards.

He says he feels a sense of connection with the younger generation’s eye on rare plants.

“I’m going, ‘Wow, you’re like I was when I was little,'” he adds.

For anyone with a specific seed in mind, Hobbs recommends heading to a gardening store soon before stock runs out.