Vibrant Vines Collective: Home Of The “Plant Therapist”

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

When Sara Allen was a student at UNA, she had a spider plant that she successfully killed. The Grissom High School grad loved plants, especially exotic indoor plants, but had zero confidence that she would ever have a green thumb. Fast forward a few years, and Sara married Clements High School grad Matt, gave birth to two beautiful sons, enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom, and also wanted to have a business that would be compatible with her family’s needs as well as her dreams. So, she did a deep “Google/YouTube dive” into “all-things-indoor-plant,” and was able to put the pieces together as to how to successfully cause indoor plants to propagate and flourish. She essentially became a self-educated subject expert, was now a product of her own product, and ironically, it was spider plants that needed a home that “forced” her next step. Sara went from being a “plant killer” to a “crazy plant lady.”

First Sara learned that spider plants need purified water, and probably what had killed her UNA spider plant was tap water, and way too much of it. The irony is that the very type of plant about which she had no confidence turned out to be the litmus test of her expertise! She told me while laughing that they were drowning in super healthy spider plants that she had propagated, and Matt said, “We need to downsize.” So, last year when the Farmer’s Market was finally back in full swing, they sold indoor plants out of the back of the “Fam-mobile” on summer Saturday mornings in Athens. The business was called “The Jungle Booth,” (and I love the play on Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book). The endeavor did well, and raving fan customers wanted a place where they could come year-round.

After the Farmer’s Market season was over, Sara looked diligently for shop space, and about ten months ago put out her Vibrant Vines Collective shingle at 616 Hwy 31, S Suite D in Athens, right across from Athens Athletics. The place has taken off like her spider plants, and I love going in there. By the way, Sara is going to have a booth at Earth Day in ASU’s Carter Gym on Saturday, April 20 and will have some demonstrations for people who are in desperate need of “plant therapy.”

No story about Vibrant Vines would be complete without a discussion of a philodendron by the name of Biggy. “He” is the show plant of the shop, and I love to go stand under his branches. Biggy makes me feel for a moment like I am on vacation in the jungle, and dispenses his unique type of “plant therapy” to the part of me that was originally made to live in the Garden of Eden. Sara found Biggy at a shop in Huntsville, and cringed when she saw that he was in a 10-inch pot. “I asked if he was for sale, and we were not even sure if we could successfully get him back to the shop, let alone re-pot him without killing him. But we knew he needed to be rescued and come live with us, so we took the risk. I put him in a 20- inch pot, and he rewarded me with quickly growing not only one, but two leaves, which is exceedingly rare for a philodendron to do.”

There are all kinds of plants in Vibrant Vines that actually thrive on neglect. There is a snake plant that only needs to be watered two times a year, literally. Many more are anywhere from once a week to once a month. Sara also loves to bring plants back to life. To date, five clients have brought their “lost causes” into Sara to be resurrected, and so far, three are now flourishing, and sadly, two were too far gone. The good news is that the bereaved owners know what they did, and have been given a “second chance.” Sara loves to build confidence in people who self-identify as plant killers, and to that end, will be offering several workshops this spring that are as follows — each workshop will be from 6:30 – 8 p.m. on their given day.

Tuesday, April 30: Repotting — cost is $25, which includes session and a plant put in an appropriately sized pot

Friday, May 3: Terrariums — cost is $40, which includes session and all supplies

Friday, May 10: Moss Poles — cost is $40, which includes session and all supplies

Friday, May 17: Propagation — cost is $25, which includes session and a propagated plant

Come by Vibrant Vines Collective either at the shop or at Earth Day, and let Sara Allen restore your “broken link” to the (indoor) Garden! The lushness of Creation is awaiting you, and behold, it is “very good.”

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner