If these walls could talk, they might say: Man, is it humid in here.
It’s the perfect setting for Seattle’s newest plant shop, Cultivate Propagate, a little Lower Queen Anne specialty store for everything from hard-to-find Hoyas to the elusive lipstick plant (Aefchynanthus radicans). There are cacti in the windowsill and Venus fly traps on the shelves and even an ant plant or two, all of which thrive in the warm, humid climate created inside.
It is a literal urban oasis.
It’s also the brainchild of Chelsea Grace, a former video game concept artist who shifted her focus a few years ago from small screen illustration to greenhouse inspiration. A Southern California native, Grace had been around plants virtually all her life—her grandmother was a botanist—and so she eventually found herself hawking atypical plants online. When that took off, a brick-and-mortar shop seemed like the logical next step.
“With houseplants in general, people are having this grand awakening about how great they are to have,” she said. “[The online business] was doing so well—I was just: ‘Alright, people seem to be into this.’”
That didn’t mean setting up shop in the colder months would be easy. Grace held the store’s grand opening in January, which was promptly followed by Seattle’s snowiest month in 50 years. But just like a hardy jade or rubber plant, Cultivate Propagate weathered the storm.
“People respond well when it’s kind of cold outside and it’s cozy and humid and it’s bright inside,” Grace said. “Now we’re seeing more consistency and we’re seeing more return customers, which is awesome.”
Much of what you’ll find in the shop, too, is locally sourced: pots are handmade and hand-picked at Snohomish County’s Bruning Pottery, while the Platycerium ferns and some of the other nearly 1,000 plants are also grown in the Pacific Northwest.
In addition to stocking unusual finds, Grace is planning to host workshops and classes in her not-so-secret garden.
“I feel like there are so many awesome constructive parts to [the shop] and it’s having such a positive impact, which makes me feel good,” Grace said. “When I lock the shop up at night and I see the neon and the plants, you’re like, ‘That’s a thing. I did that.’”
Cultivate Propagate is open seven days a week at 312 W Republican St.