Interview: Green Fingers

Recently opened on Dumbarton Road, Green Fingers is a new plant shop selling plants and gardening supplies at reduced prices. Recycling plants that would otherwise go to waste, the shop sells healthy plants that might just not be aesthetically perfect. The concept combats plant waste and offers an affordable alternative to buying expensive houseplants.
I visited the store recently and spoke to Jordan Trainer (he/him) the owner of Green Living and Partick Mini Market.

Q. I was wondering if you could begin by telling us a little about yourself, and how you got into horticulture?
A. I was about 12 or 13 when I first got into horticulture. I started off doing hanging baskets and maintenance on gardens for friends and neighbours. This led to doing markets and selling plants and then eventually into the retail side. I’ve always loved the outdoors and gardening and have been doing horticulture for 7-8 years.

Q. Growing houseplants has become a hugely popular hobby. Could you tell us about how this has affected the indoor and outdoor plant market?
A. It has definitely gained a lot of popularity. I think people are seeing the health benefits of keeping houseplants, with young people seeing the mental health benefits in particular. It is a very calming activity, especially for people who have stressful jobs, and lots of people use gardening to relax. If they don’t have a garden that’s where houseplants come in. A lot of people like to grow their own houseplants; it allows people to feel like they have more green area around them instead of being stuck between 4 walls. It’s nice to have a bit of greenery around so I think that has got a lot of people, especially young people and students, into horticulture.

Q. Green Fingers will only sell discounted plants, pots and equipment recycled from local garden centres and nurseries. What made you interested in selling plants at a discounted and reduced price? Do you see this as a way to make growing plants more affordable?
A. Yeah, it is definitely more affordable for people. Obviously, in the last couple of years, the cost has gone up on everything. Plants and gardening have been especially affected and the current popularity has raised the prices.
But I just didn’t realise how much waste there was. A lot of our suppliers are in Europe, but some are in Scotland as well, and they have a lot of waste. Just like supermarkets discard products a lot of things get thrown out in the plant industry just because it doesn’t look as good enough to sell. They usually just go to landfill or are donated elsewhere. So, we came up with the idea of buying these waste products from nurseries and selling them at a much more affordable price that is accessible for everyone. We realise that growing plants can be an expensive hoppy, especially if you’re into rare plant types, so it is nice to have a different option.

Q. You have already delved into this slightly, but, have you seen directly the waste produced from discarding healthy plants that may not be aesthetically perfect?
A. I was a bit naive when I first got into it and didn’t realise how much wastage there is. But from looking behind the scenes there are big skips of plants. Obviously, it is correct to discard diseased plants, however, the vast majority are thrown just because they aren’t up to retail standard.
That’s how I realised there was a market for making use of these plants. For example, there is nothing wrong with the plant pots and equipment we will sell. Maybe they were thrown away because they are discounted, it’s the end of clearance or the plant inside them has died, but the pot itself is fine. So that’s the idea, we are reusing stuff that would otherwise get thrown out.

Q. Your new store is on Dumbarton Road in Partick. Was there anything in particular that drew you to this area?
A. I just love Partick! I’ve been here since 2020 and before that I’d actually not been this far into the west end as I’m from Cambuslang originally. It was just circumstances, I saw that it was available to rent, and ever since I started Green Living [his other plant shop] I wanted to continue here. Partick has really nice people, lots of lovely customers, and I have since moved here. It’s also really affordable for what we are doing; it is a great bit of the west end that isn’t too expensive and therefore it’s a great spot for start-up businesses.

Q. Seeing as we’re in a plant shop, I thought I should ask for some recommendations and advice. What houseplants would you recommend for a student? Or for someone who is just starting out with houseplants?
A. I would recommend plants that do not need much watering for people that are new to houseplants. As a student you’re always out and about and don’t want to be worrying about when to water a plant. I would usually recommend a snake plant, they are really tough and also great air purifiers if you’re stuck in a dorm room. Or cacti and succulents are good if you have a really bright window. Cacti are easy to care for and you don’t have to water them much. Or if you want something that flowers then peace lilies are great and they are also good at filtering toxins out of the air.

Q. What would be your advice for caring for those plants that may not be ‘aesthetically perfect’ to bring them back to ‘full health’?
A. That is the other side of it, if you buy a plant that might need a wee bit more care we provide care guides. If anyone messages us or comes into the store we can give them advice on how to care for their plants. In general, when it comes to watering I’d say it is better to neglect your plants. Don’t overwater your plants always let them dry a little bit, because you can always rehydrate them, but you can’t always bring them back from root rot. I always say don’t give too much love, you want to check the soil every 10 days and if it’s looking a bit dry then water it but don’t overdo it. It is better to sit back and watch.

Q. I thought we’d finish with fun question. If you were a plant, what plant would you be?
A. I think I’d probably be a cactus. I really love cacti and succulents. They are unusual, resilient and hard to kill

Green Fingers is located at 410 Dumbarton Road and is open on Saturdays and Sundays for now.

Rosa Gilder (she/her)


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