Blooming and Booming: South Florida entrepreneurs’ rare houseplant business thriving during COVID-19 pandemic

(WSVN) - Since the pandemic forced us to spend more time at home, many of us have brought a touch of the outdoors inside, and for a South Florida entrepreneur who sells some of the rarest houseplants in the world, business is blooming and booming. 7’s Kevin Ozebek has our special assignment report.

Welcome to the garden of Enid!

Kevin Ozebek: “This is a very Instagram-worthy leaf, I would say.”

Enid Offolter: “Oh, yeah, it’s on there.”

Enid Offolter is the owner of NSE Tropicals.

Through her website, she sells the most exotic, the most coveted, the most Instagrammable houseplants, and they are all grown in her Broward County backyard.

Enid Offolter, NSE Tropicals: “I really have always gardened and always loved plants, and I like weird plants and different things.”

In Enid’s greenhouses, you will find bright begonias, fancy philodendrons and amazing antheriums.

Enid Offolter: “I thought when the pandemic first hit: ‘That’s it. There goes my business. The world is falling apart. No one is going to buy plants,’ but people were home, and they just needed things that made them happy.”

As South Florida streets became empty, many of us cultivated indoor jungles.

In 2020, I grew my houseplant collection from about three to 30, and I’m far from the only one with a new houseplant hobby.

Craig Stevens: “Big fan of having plants around the house, especially the kitchen, adds some life. I like to consider myself a little bit of a green thumb.”

Alex de Armas: “Here’s another one behind me, and here’s another one down here. I’m telling you, you kind of become addicted to them.”

Enid cannot keep up with the demand.

Her rare plants often sell out within minutes online.

Enid used to announce when she was restocking ahead of time, but her 109,000 Instagram followers would flood and crash her site.

Enid Offolter: “It’s stressful to even restock the website. I put stuff on, and then, I run!”

Demand may be through the roof, but houseplants need time to grow. It takes four to six weeks for these cuttings to turn into plants Enid can ship and sell. When she starts from seed, it takes six months to a year.

Enid Offolter: “I used to grow everything much bigger, but everyone wants stuff yesterday!”

Sharina Tallade (on YouTube video): “Oh, my God! Oh, wow!”

It also doesn’t help that plant influencers — yes, that is a thing — post on YouTube videos of them unboxing Enid’s plants.

Heart Shaped Leaves (on YouTube video): “I can see a piece of it!”

These videos rack up thousands of views.

Heart Shaped Leaves (on YouTube video): “Oooooooooh! Babe, it looks so good!”

Influencers and hobbyists alike love Enid because she grows plants they dream of owning.

Kevin Ozebek: “I’ve got to tell you: to see this in person, it’s amazing. Look at the structure of that leaf!”

Enid Offolter: “They say like it’s more holes than leaf.”

This is monstera obliqua, one of the rarest of the rare houseplants.

Kevin Ozebek: “Out of curiosity, what’s the price tag for this?”

Enid Offolter: “Do I have to put that on there?”

Kevin Ozebek: “They aren’t cheap, are they?”

At a current price of $1,800, this is the holy grail of houseplants, and Enid is now a name known around the world.

Enid Offolter: “I see people in Indonesia saying, ‘I got it from Enid!’ I’ve sold hundreds of thousands of plants over the years. After a while, I guess it adds up, and people know who you are.”

And it all stems from a business that’s blooming and booming in South Florida.

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