Indoor gardening finds new fans • Sacramento News & Review

Exotic Plants is seeing growing interest in unusual houseplants

Posted by Debbie Arrington

Call it the “Plantdemic”. Spending more time at home sparked a new interest in gardening and plant shopping, especially houseplants.

During the pandemic, Exotic Plants – Sacramento’s favorite indoor gardening store – saw tremendous interest in houseplants and succulents as more people discovered the pleasure of gardening indoors.

“Plantdemic was very interesting,” says owner Kifumi Keppler. “It was a learning experience for me too.”

Why the renewed interest in indoor gardening? Houseplants have been shown to have a positive impact on mental, physical and emotional health – all important benefits during stressful times like a pandemic.

Many of these newbies to Plantdemic gardeners had little or no prior knowledge, but they had clear ideas of what they wanted. Inspired by Instagram and other social media, these buyers were looking for unusual flora, noted Keppler.

“They didn’t want generic plants like Chinese evergreens; they wanted something rare, ”she said. “I had to switch.”

Keppler and her team of experts opened up their widely dispersed sources, including those in Hawaii, Tennessee, Italy, Indonesia and here in Northern California. They filled the spacious Exotic Plants store with thousands of living treasures.

“Interest continues,” she said. “We are getting more and more rare plants to meet this demand. … Young people in particular are into new things and unusual plants. “

Why stop with indoor green? “We’re starting to offer more outdoor plants like bamboo, maple and some other unique plants,” said Keppler. “People ask about plants outside. People also want unusual edible plants that are used in Japanese and Thai foods like wasabi, Meyer lemon, and kaffir lime. “

Houseplants can add a lush, tropical feel to any room, noted Keppler. “With plants you expand this tropical ambience from inside to outside.”

Founded in 1972, Exotic Plants has grown into a regional destination nursery for rare and sought-after plants, attracting buyers from across California and Nevada. It also offers a variety of facility-related services, including rental of commercial, residential and specialty facilities.

Recognized as Northern California’s best indoor plant expert, Keppler has seen many trends in her decades of experience.

“I’ve been through a lot of changes in the plant industry,” she said. “(When she started) it was wandering Jews, piggyback plants and Swedish ivy, lots of Boston ferns. I’ve made a lot of designer houses with three to five plants in each room. Designers used indoor plants in show homes because they helped sell the property faster. “

Now Keppler adds house appeal in a different way. Her handmade moss “walls” are living art – with ferns and other plants that are incorporated into the richly structured background. Interior designers rely on exotic plants to give rooms that certain something – life!

“Lots of people started in the plant business after me; it’s getting more and more competitive, ”she added. “But we were strong and still are.”

In 2019, Exotic Plants moved to its current location on Fulton Avenue. The 4,000-square-foot building is filled with colorful bromeliads, vibrant crotons, and statuesque palm trees. The selection of exotic orchids is the largest in the greater Sacramento area. Many other plants, including countless succulents, fill a 3,000 square meter terrace. There is also space for workshops and special events.

All plants are very healthy, fresh and, for ethical reasons, come from new stock that is handpicked by experts at Exotic Plants.

But his shop is much more than a place to buy plants. With its spaces filled with art and antiques, Exotic Plants is – as one buyer put it – like “an oasis where customers escape the hectic pace of their busy lives and come home refreshed”.

Keppler continues to innovate while nurturing her business and educating its customers. Exotic Plants recently resumed in-person workshops and other events. (For more information, see the Exotic Plants website.)

After almost half a century, Exotic Plants is firmly rooted, said Keppler. “Sacramento is becoming a city of plants.”

Exotic Plants is located at 1525 Fulton Ave., Sacramento. Call 916-922-4769 or visit

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