Photography by Dan Austin
The Green House Garden Store provides a friendly and local experience to discover the perfect plants for your home to fit your lifestyle and budget.
The Lakelander celebrates The Green House Garden Store as one of the longest-standing independent garden stores in the city. Florida natives Jarman Peacock and his wife, Sara, began The Green House Garden Store with the dream of sharing their love for plants and creating an oasis where all are welcomed. Located just off South Florida Avenue, the store has been in business for almost 20 years.
“Plants have always been a big part of my life — maybe just growing up in Florida where we can have papaya and pineapple plants growing in our yards made that initial interest blossom,” Jarman says. “In my early 20s, I took a gap year during college and moved to Costa Rica, and that definitely cemented my love of all things tropical and green.”
Jarman grew up in Lakeland but later moved to Miami in order to pursue a career in horticulture and landscape design. He and Sara returned to Lakeland to raise a family, as they prefer it to the metropolis of Miami.
“Since we started the store before we had children, I didn’t realize how wonderful it would be to have our kids there. It is so cool to have something tangible that they can visit and help out with. We are lucky to have two girls, and they love playing at and helping with the store,” Jarman says.
While it might be intimidating to grow houseplants, having a green thumb is simpler than it sounds, especially when it comes to Monstera deliciosa, also known as the large Swiss cheese plant. It’s a matter of choosing the right plants and knowing how to care for them.
“Monstera are so easy to grow, but since they have those gigantic split leaves, they appear delicate and challenging. In reality, they don’t care if you forget to water them or put them in a dark room, they will thrive and grow no matter where they are in your house.”
The Green House Garden Store is best known for its variety of orchids, one houseplant staple that Jarman highly recommends. “Orchids are so amazing. They flower like crazy and have gorgeous leaves, making your house look better in any room. My favorite, and by far the easiest to grow, are moth orchids, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.”
Whether you are knowledgeable in horticulture or not, The Green House Garden Store welcomes everyone. Jarman is notorious for knowing exactly what you need and helping customers navigate the world of plants for their homes and gardens. He also recommends pothos and calatheas for houseplants.
Whether you are knowledgeable in horticulture or not, The Green House Garden Store welcomes everyone.
“Pothos are the black T-shirts of the plant world: You can’t have too many, and they can be used anywhere. At the moment, neon pothos is my favorite with its electric-green leaves, but I love them all. Calathea are heliotropic which means their leaves move around all the time depending on if it’s day or night. It’s so cool to see them move around in the house. Some of my favorite species are the peacock, the rattlesnake, and the Bolivian prayer plant.”
Overall, Jarman’s current favorite plant is the bat plant.
“There are a ton of species native to places like Tibet and Borneo. They are all beautiful and weird, but the white bat plant flowers are just the coolest. They are easy to grow but a little challenging to get to bloom. However, they are worth every ounce of effort. Here’s a tip: They love water, sometimes need fertilizer, and don’t want any direct sunlight.”
A bonus about having a family-run business is that everyone can be involved. The Peacocks’ children have favorite plants that have originated from their traveling ventures to botanical gardens. Sara is from South America, “one of the world’s plant wonderlands,” says Jarman. Many species of philodendron and anthurium that we sell at the store come from her home country of Ecuador, making them extra special to me.”
Jarman and Sara also share a unique perspective on climate change as they see the effects of it firsthand through their business and horticulture industry.
“It’s really obvious that something is going on when you’re aware of plants and how they’re responding to the changes around us. Temperate trees and shrubs are becoming less common in Central Florida at the same time that the numbers of subtropical species are increasing. The numbers of royal poincianas and mango trees growing in Lakeland are just incredible.”
While small businesses have faced many unforeseen challenges due to COVID-19, shopping for plants at a local greenhouse store, rather than a commercial home improvement store, helps these local businesses, and the local plant stores show which plants thrive specific to Florida weather.
If you stop by The Green House Garden Store, bring your kids, family, and friends, and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere where you can listen to all kinds of music, including some from local artists like Emily Jones, Hannah Dobson, Van Plating, or Michael McArthur. Plants are not as intimidating to grow as they appear to be, and the Peacocks are excited to share their knowledge of being a plant parent with their customers.