Farmingdale State alumnus launches Port Jefferson haven
WILD Plant Shop is every plant lover’s dream.
Port Jeff’s new venture is full of succulents, tiny potted plants, and larger plants with massive leaves, thorny stems, and budding flowers.
But it’s not just a store for experts. WILD is a welcoming place for planters of all skill levels, even those who say every plant they touch dies immediately, says store owner Caitlin Carlstrom.
Her own personal obsession with plants began while working for her father, who is a horticulturalist.
She first went to interior design school, she said, but dropped out of that program to study horticulture at Farmingdale State College.
“I have always worked outdoors,” she says. “As an interior designer, I felt like I couldn’t come to town every day. I cannot work indoors every day.
Her store, located at 116 East Main Street, is essentially an extension of her own personal collection at home, where there are about a hundred additional plants.
The Rocky Point resident has been a landscaper for 15 years and owns her own landscaping business called Carlstrom Landscapes.
During the winter, she usually has about four months off due to lack of planting and landscaping during this season in the northeast.
So eight years ago she started collecting houseplants. During the winter, she would drive around looking for stores, but realized that there weren’t many options for plant lovers.
She envisioned places like New York, which inspired her to open her plant shop.
“There were mostly garden centers, but they didn’t have the variety, or they close in the winter, so I was like, let me try it,” she said.
Her love for the outdoors and her work for her father’s landscaping business pushed her to pursue a career in growing plants.
In August, she opened her shop and obtains her plants from wholesalers, as well as overseas.
For example, a type of potted plant that she imports from Indonesia.
The owner maintains all the plants in the store, which is a tedious task. She sprays them all and provides different types of care depending on the plant.
Buying plants to stock a store is not as easy as it may seem.
There is a lot to consider.
“It’s hard because I have to think about everything, not just what I like,” she said. “For the most part, people like small plants.”
Carlstrom said she believes the COVID-19 pandemic and its household orders have created more plant collectors.
At the height of the outbreak, with everyone on lockdown, people turned to plant care as a household activity, which benefited Carlstrom and his new business.
“It took me years to get to this stage of owning a factory because I wanted to make sure I knew how to take care of it,” she said. “All these new plants are going downhill.”
WILD Plant Shop gained almost immediate attention on social media. Carlstrom now has clients from all over Long Island.
It also brings in clients from all levels of gardening. She’s there to offer insight and her expertise to match every visitor with the right plant.
“Everyone who walks in just says to me, ‘Oh, I have a black thumb’ or ‘I want to crash, but I’m still killing them.’ And I help them choose one that is easy to maintain, ”said Carlstrom.
Carlstrom said Port Jefferson Village has been incredibly welcoming and feels supported by the many other women-owned businesses in the area.
“They give me advice and ideas,” she says. “Everyone is so nice.”
She meets people who come into the store to buy a new plant but end up staying for a few hours just to discuss greenery.
“I’ll talk to anyone who wants to talk about plants,” she says.
WILD Plant Shop is open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Follow the store on Instagram for updates on the plants added to WILD’s collection. Below is a glimpse of the interior.