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Plant purchases on the rise amid COVID-19 quarantine

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'How to Make a Plant Love You 'author Summer Rayne Oakes joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the recent boom in plant purchases as more people are sheltering-in-place during the coronavirus pandemic.

Video Transcript

JEN ROGERS: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance. Quarantine has people doing different things. They're adopting animals. All the little baby chickens are gone. People are hoarding seeds. And apparently, they are all buying plants as well.

I want to bring in our next guest, Summer Rayne Oakes, "How to Make a Plant Love You" author. So Summer, I have a plant behind me. This is how bad I am at plants. I was watering it for about three weeks until I found out it's fake. So I might not be--

- She's here all week.

JEN ROGERS: --the best person when it comes to house plants. I need your help. I've also felt this urge to buy plants, but they're sold out everywhere. What's going on?

SUMMER RAYNE OAKES: Well, you know, one of the things is that a lot of our garden centers and plant shops, in some states, are actually deemed essential, so they're either still open or they're operating very differently. So some of them are doing curbside pickup. Some of them are doing online.

But some of our plant shops have had to close or come up with different ways in order to sell, and sometimes that means us actually getting plants online, which is uncomfortable for some folks. But yes, people have not stopped buying plants. The buying of plants, both indoors and out, has been increasing quite dramatically over the last number of years.

Of course, you had mentioned in the beginning that millennials are a big driver for this, and there is. It's about millennials power about a quarter of the lawn and garden and about a third of the house plants. And that is increasing, you know, 50%, I think, in the last three years alone.

But with this advent of sheltering in, one of the easiest ways to make your house cozy and to nurture something is to obviously get a plant. And I think part of this is also going back to having to go out to buy your food in supermarkets. And so now you're seeing-- seeing a proliferation of Facebook groups, like on victory gardens and victory gardens for COVID-19. And I think people are having this new renaissance of-- of wanting to buy plants, both indoors and out.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey, Summer. Rick Newman here. I have a killer garden in the suburbs of New York City, and I'm concerned I'm not going to be able to get some of the stuff I've been able to, you know, just buy almost anywhere. You think we're going to have a shortage of garden plants for the summer?

SUMMER RAYNE OAKES: I don't know if we'll have a shortage of garden plants, maybe on specific kinds. I have been actually mass buying myself, both for indoors and out. And I've-- there is-- are definite-- there's definitely ones that are, I think, always hard to find.

And I think the challenge is that some growers have them, some wholesaler growers have them, but they can't get them to maybe the plant shops that we typically would buy at. I talked to one of my plant shops that I purchase from in Brooklyn, and the owner there said that they typically buy from eight to 10 wholesale plant sellers. Now, they're only doing three, for various different reasons.

And-- and so I think we're going to get a shortage of certain plants, but it might not be for some of the reasons that we're-- we're thinking of. And again, I think the data is so new right now to see whether we've bought more over the course of time and also the fact that, like, COVID-19 is happening during the time of spring when a lot of people would be buying seeds, and bulbs, and everything along those lines. But I-- I would-- I would imagine that people are buying more now, even though it might not be all the varieties that they want or all the species that they want because of-- of supply chain issues.

- Jen, a plant muted you.

RICK NEWMAN: Jen, we can't hear you.

- A plant muted your mic, Jen.

JEN ROGERS: So I muted myself. Summer Rayne Oakes, the author of "How to Make a Plant Love You." We want to get you back when you've got your plants and maybe you can give us some tips. OK?

SUMMER RAYNE OAKES: Yeah, I know. Actually, I'm at my friend's house, so you won't see the 1,000 plants that I live with in Brooklyn.

JEN ROGERS: That's the next time. We're going to get you back, and you--

SUMMER RAYNE OAKES: OK.

JEN ROGERS: --can do that with us. We're back in two minutes.

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