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A bird of paradise plant filters the air.
A snake plant regulates the temperature.
A ZZ plant enhances its owner’s financial energy.
Leung wrote the descriptions above—steeped in the Chinese philosophy of feng shui—for Facebook Marketplace, where she has sold home-grown plants for more than a year.
The shop started after a Dieffenbachia plant she’d nurtured grew 4-feet tall and needed to be separated into a second pot. Leung wanted to give it away but didn’t have a recipient in mind. She posted a photo of the waxy plant on Marketplace with an encouraging description: “This plant isn’t very easy to kill. It doesn’t need a lot of light, and it needs only a little bit of water.”
Minutes later, someone contacted her to buy it.
Leung has since sold more than 1,500 plants. She turned her dining room, which is showered in natural light, into a makeshift greenhouse. About 150 plants currently fill her home. She travels around the Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. area in her spare time, delivering her plants to their new owners and imparting feng shui and plant-rearing wisdom along the way. Leung does it all without saying much at all. She is deaf. She signs, texts, emails, writes notes, or leans on her 12-year-old son—if he’s volunteered to deliver plants with her on a particular day—to communicate with her customers.
“It makes me so happy to see how my customers love their plants,” Leung said. Buoyed by steady sales on Facebook, Leung recently launched her own website, Clara’s Greenhouse.
Leung grew up in Hong Kong. Her mother had the greenest of thumbs, clipping plants from the wild and coaxing them to thrive indoors. After high school, Leung moved to D.C. to attend Gallaudet University, a leading liberal arts university for the deaf.
Post-graduation, her career as an accountant took off, but Leung still felt unfulfilled.
“I love my profession, but I noticed that I worked all day in the office, and by the time I got home, I felt like there was something still missing in my life. For a few years, I wasn’t sure what that part was and what I was looking for,” she said.
She found it inside a grocery store with a garden center: “I would always find myself over at the garden center, staring at plants and realizing how beautiful they were,” she said.
One day, she bought a plant from the center and Clara’s Greenhouse took root shortly after.
When Karli Simmons moved from a large home into a two-bedroom condo outside of D.C., she happened on one of Leung’s Facebook posts and reached out. She bought two plants inside stylish pots that Leung carefully matched with her new décor—a signature service that Leung takes pride in.
“She is a wealth of knowledge,” Simmons said. “Indoor plants are not my strength, and her tips were so helpful—now I know not to put a plant in a corner. It needs to breath, and it needs energy.”
Leung doesn’t hesitate to give away her biggest gardening secrets.
“Honestly, not every plant needs to have a watering schedule,” she shared.
Instead of a strict regime, Leung recommends a periodic soil test, accomplished with nothing more than your index finger. “Pick up the soil. If it feels almost like beach sand and crumbles really quickly, that’s when you know you need to water it.”
And those plants from big retail stores? Leung believes they’re so hard to keep alive because they’re potted in generic soil. Different plants need different nutrients, so Leung makes custom soil for each plant she raises and sells.
Now that Clara’s Greenhouse is thriving, Leung’s life—and dining room—are full.
“I found a way to give back, human to human,” Leung said.
March 15, 2019 at 10:05AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs