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This is the time of year when many people think about making a change in their homes or in their gardens. They may ask, “How can I make my home more beautiful?” A variety of indoor and outdoor plants can do just that, and Matthew Lang knows more about them than most people. He’s the owner of The Plant Boat, a garden center and landscaping business located at H&G-PlantBoat_copy212 E. Oakland Park Boulevard in Wilton Manors. He has owned his own business for the past six years, and through his knowledge and love of plants, his business not only survived the recession, but has continued to thrive.

I spoke to Matthew Lang about his love of plants and how you can best decorate your home with all different kinds of plants in this Hotspots interview.

How long have you been interested in plants and how did it all start?

I’ve been interested in plants pretty much my whole life. I was born and raised in South Florida and since I was seven years old, I was tending to the plants outside. As I got older, I knew I wanted to do something with design, so I decided to open up a plant store. I knew it was my passion. So I took all of my plants that I owned, and I brought them to the store and opened it up.

H&G-PlantBoat_copy3There was a bad accident that disrupted things for a little while a few months ago. How are things now?

A car went through my building and I had to shut the doors. I didn’t know where I was going to go, but everything turned out for the best. I ended up at my store’s first location, and we opened the doors back in November, so we managed to reopen in two months’ time.

What’s the difference between a plant you need to plant or keep outside versus a plant you can have inside?

It’s funny you asked that, because people come in to the shop and they will say, “Oh, I want an indoor plant.” When it comes down to it, all plants are outdoor plants. Now the ones that grow in shade in outdoor settings are usually the ones that are okay to bring inside.

How can plants change the ambience of a room?

They do that in two ways. First, they bring color to a room. A lush shade of green is the finishingH&G-PlantBoat_copy1 touch to any room in your home. There was a customer who came in to the shop and he wanted a piece that would finish up his room, and the green from the plant just warmed it up. Also, there’s the smell. You can definitely tell the difference in a room with a plant as opposed to one without a plant because plants smell sweet and they oxygenate the air around them.

Which plants are perfect for Florida weather, especially considering we’re going to be entering some very humid months?

A lot of plants are good for this kind of weather. A lot of your ficuses are good choices, and then there’s also bamboo, which does really well here in Florida. It stays wet a lot, and the tube does wonders for irrigation. Then there’s the Dade County pine, which is native to Florida. It does extremely well in our climate. Even during the dry season, it continues to thrive. So I think those are pretty cool plants to have.

I saw something called “living walls” on your website. What are those? How affordable is it to install one?

Living walls are for spaces where there may not be floor space to place plants, but people may want that touch anyway. So we work vertically. The way living walls work, they’re all self-contained, so there’s no risk of water leaks. It’s a great way to add something special to the walls, kind of like an art piece. You can do this inside or outside. They cost between $1,000 and $10,000, depending on how big the space is, and it can be installed in days.

H&G-PlantBoat_copy4What would you say to someone who is interested in purchasing plants for their home or landscaping but are afraid of the upkeep?

I believe a plant is an investment, so when people come in, I always like to know exactly where the plant’s going to go and I can tell them how much water the plant’s going to need. I would say 90% of the people I encounter over-water their plants. When they learn they don’t have to water as much, it takes a lot of stress and anxiety away.

How often should you water plants? Every day?

No, not at all! Maybe once a week or once every two weeks, depending on the plant. Less is more, especially considering the A/C is running in the house, because the wetness will stay inside the plant. There are so many people out there who are now successful in keeping their plants alive because they followed my advice.

The Plant Boat prides itself on finding any kind of exotic plant for your home. For more information on their products, and how you can get plants delivered to you and maintained for you, call (954) 591-5009.