The Plant Lady, Elsa Jarrett, grateful for growth and opportunities
Starting her green nursery two and a half years ago, Elsa Jarrett is grateful to be reaping the fruits of her labour. The growth and opportunity received has not been enlightening, but motivating for the entrepreneur, who made this cross-over from the nine-to-five life.
“My earliest memory with nature was seeing my father plant all around the yard,” she told The Gleaner.
The journey, which began in the heat of the global pandemic over two years ago, has been bittersweet thus far. The venture became a saving grace for Jarrett who was home during Covid-19.
“I had purchased a few plants while working at the airport (Sangster International) and because I like posting, I started posting them on Instagram. Persons started liking them and started asking if I’m selling,” she explained.
The decision was made soon after to create a page dedicated to plants. And she credits her wonderful son for coming up with the name Elsa Plant Lady.
Since becoming an official business, Elsa Plant Supplies and More, in June 2020, Jarrett has grown in stride, providing a wide variety of plants for purchase. She has already sold 500 monstera plants, which “I have a few varieties of the monstera. Those are my favourite plants. I like lucky bamboo as well,” she said.
When it comes to selecting indoor plants, the professional listed zee zee, peace lily, and areca palms as great options for plant enthusiasts. For outdoors, roses are a wonderful choice, as well as cacti, palm tree plants, snake plants, and succulents.
While there are plants like fiddle-leaf figs and birds of paradise, flowers that can function in indoor and outdoor settings.
The most common problems novice plant owners face are overwatering and underwatering. People, she said, believe that all plant lovers do is wake up each morning and water their plants. “That is not so. You have some plants that love water. Those that are like that, their leaves will start drooping when it is required.”
Then there are other plants that can go two to three days without water. Jarrett normally gives her customers detailed care instructions. But she recommends doing extensive research and observing the plants in your habitat, to see how they respond and parent accordingly.
“You have to study and take care of the plants; they take a lot of attention. Sometimes you will place a plant in a particular area of the room and it doesn’t like the placement. You can shift it around a little and watch to see where it thrives best.”
She went on to note that each plant, in the instance of watering, is very different. For the monstera, she always tells her customers not to water until the soil is dry. And how they will know that is by sticking their finger an inch or two in the soil; when it feels extremely dry, then water is needed. The peace lilies, on the other hand, desire another approach, “Anytime the leaves start drooping, just water them”.
The plants know when you love them, she confessed, adding that they will return that love tenfold.
The major hurdles she has jumped over as a ‘solo-treprenuer’ include transportation, as well as sourcing and securing capital.
“I reached out to institutions for financial assistance and I was always turned down, up to this day. I just decided to do it on my own, without transportation.”
When the business started picking up and she didn’t have a ride, Jarrett turned to renting vehicles. To facilitate sales out of town, she set her dates to transport requested plants from the nation’s second city, Montego Bay, to make deliveries in the island’s first city, Kingston.
Despite the challenge, she continued to be grateful for the growth and opportunity planting has afforded her.
Checking on her plants at night and first thing in the morning, she engages in heart-to-heart conversations with them, so that they can make her proud and thrive. “I love large plants. If you watch a monstera plant grow from a baby to its full size, getting those big leaves, then you will know what love is. I love foliage. I love greenery. Green plants are my favourite; I prefer those to colour.”
From a planting standpoint, Jarrett is a big fan of cutting plants, planting them, and seeing them grow. “I feel like a queen, like I’ve created life. Nothing is more beautiful than when you make some clippings, tip them in a little rooting powder, stick them in the soil, and watch them for a week or two, and you see life, they start growing.”