April 2, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
Spring is in the air and a new store that sells rare and exotic houseplants has just opened in Long Island City.
Planted by Christy, located at 24-11 41st Ave., opened Saturday and offers a range of extravagant houseplants sourced from Southeast Asia that fetch as much as $10,000 each.
The store is also stocked full of regular plants, herbs, seeds, vegetable plants and flowers. There are around 3,000 plants in total inside the store.
Owner Peter Palagian said houseplants are in high demand because people are spending more time at home due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“The whole plant industry has exploded because a lot of people started focusing on gardening and purifying the air and oxygen in their homes,” Palagian said. Plants, he noted, absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
He said that the store sells all types of houseplants but focuses heavily on rare items.
Palagian, who previously worked in Nelly’s Flower Shop in Brooklyn, said that he decided to open his own store because he noticed the demand for rare plants while working there. Nelly’s is also owned and operated by his wife’s family for 50 years.
He said he saw a gap in the market and is looking to tap into it.
“It’s like a craze going on right now with rare plants… the high-end collector market is a very niche market,” Palagian said.
Palagian, who was born in Astoria, said he wanted to open in Long Island City because it is close to his old neighborhood. He currently lives in Maspeth with his wife and three-year-old daughter Christy, whom the store is named after, and they are expecting their second child in the summer.
He orders the rare plants from Indonesia and Thailand via air cargo which means they can be at the store within 24 hours. He said collectors would usually have to wait weeks waiting on shipments.
Rare plant collectors also find it difficult to source the items and often come across scammers, he said, adding that he offers a safe and secure service.
When the plants arrive they are placed in a special grow room to be acclimatized. The room, which is around 500 square feet in size and located at the rear of the store, protects the plants from the elements and consists of humidifiers, grow lights and tents. He said the plants need extra care since they come from warmer climates.
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Some of the rare plants include the “Indonesian Mint Adansonii,” the “Strawberry Shake” and the “Amydrium Variegata.”
The store’s retail space is around 1,000 square feet and is stocked with plants that are ready to be sold including favorites like cacti, snake plants and ZZ plants. Plant lovers can also purchase the Labisia Turtle Back – which looks like a turtle shell – hoyas, pinnatipartitas and anthuriums.
Palagian sources the regular plants from California and Florida mostly from local suppliers.
“We have something for everyone. We have basic common house plants to the very high-end types for collectors that are hard to find and hard to grow.”
The items can be purchased in-store only, Palagian said, noting that the in-person experience is a big selling point for his business. However, he said he will consider online and delivery options in the future.
The store is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.