Paradise Palm: 45 Years of Interior Plant Care & Sale
Paradise Palm first began as an interior plant care contractor and indoor garden store in 1977. John Mueller, current owner of the business and plant-obsessive who worked for the Bureau of Land Management, started working for Paradise Palm in his early 20s before purchasing the business when he was 23. “If you get him talking about plants, he never stops,” says Bailey Mueller, John’s daughter and manager of the store.
John began selling plants at Paradise Palm’s Sugarhouse storefront in 1998 then moved to the current location on Broadway after outgrowing the original. “He definitely saw a pocket in Salt Lake, especially where there was a lack of resources to buy high-quality house plants,” Bailey says. The business gradually grew over time, but they saw a huge boost in the late 2000s after two year–long construction work on Broadway was finished and the speed limit was decreased from 30 mph to 20 mph. “We had more walking traffic instantly as soon as they were done. It was a marked difference,” John says.
“If you get him talking about plants, he never stops.”
As their storefront has become more popular in recent years, a key component of Paradise Palm is providing advice to customers. When it comes to plant care, Bailey says people tend to overcomplicate it. “We’ll have people coming in really overwhelmed at the prospect of taking care of plants when really the least intervention possible is usually the best route to take,” Bailey says. She advises only repotting once every one to three years at most and fully saturating your plant once a week. Beyond plants, Paradise Palm also sells a variety of different pots and saucers, as well as bonsai shears, bonsai wire and organic insecticides and fertilizers that aren’t harmful to the environment.
Paradise Palm’s core business is the plant care services they provide to approximately 100 buildings all over the valley, recommending certain plants by considering budgets, the lighting and building interiors and if the customer wants contemporary or classical foliage. “Everyone in these buildings has to have every single one of their plants watered the same day. That’s trim, water, rotate, fluff with moss,” John says.
“Everyone in these buildings has to have every single one of their plants watered the same day. That’s trim, water, rotate, fluff with moss.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Paradise Palm storefront has experienced a massive boost in customers, with their number of customers nearly tripling. John says sometimes customers would come in during the week when it was snowing, expecting nobody anywhere near the store on those days. “But then, there’s like 20, 30 people in there buying plants … After a year, we would just have people in their pajamas mass buying plants to the point of extreme and then our suppliers were in shortage, so we couldn’t get half of what we normally could get,” John says. Their suppliers would have plants but they would be smaller than normal and limited in supply on all of the exotic, more coveted plants. “Everything was more expensive or non-existent, so we were just working every angle to bring in the right plants to meet that demand.”
“It’s something you take care of, a reason to get up in the morning. Connecting and communicating with your plants is a huge part of it.”
Bailey thinks part of the reason for the recent boom in interest in plants is due to plant trends on social media, as plant life gives people more nuance with interior design and responsibility to sustain life. “Plants are the new pets, right? It’s something you take care of, a reason to get up in the morning. Connecting and communicating with your plants is a huge part of it,” Bailey says. She adds that buying a plant as a gift can be really thoughtful and personal. “I think that the intention behind taking the time to pick out a plant and pot or multiple plants and showing us how they want them arranged speaks volumes,” Bailey says.
You can find Paradise Palm on 307 E. 300 South and on Instagram @paradisepalmslc and Facebook at Paradise Palm, SLC.
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