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Blooming boutique: Explorganics in Bel Air nurtures plants, customers and female entrepreneurs

Some of Shannon Greaver’s happiest childhood memories are of visiting her grandmother, Pauline Marsh, who lived two doors away, to help water her plants.

Ten years after Marsh died from breast cancer, Greaver, 29, has founded the kind of boutique plant shop her grandmother would have loved. Explorganics, which focuses on using natural products to grow strong and healthy plants, opened its doors Nov. 1 in the Bel Air Armory.

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“I definitely got my green thumb from my grandmother,” Greaver said. “She was always tending to her plants. Being around them reminds me of her.”

Shannon Greaver restocks macrame pieces at her plant store, Explorganics in Bel Air. She gets some help from her two-year-old daughter, Cora.
Shannon Greaver restocks macrame pieces at her plant store, Explorganics in Bel Air. She gets some help from her two-year-old daughter, Cora. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

For a time in her teens and early 20s, Greaver focused on other interests. But she went through a rough patch a few years ago and rediscovered how soothing it could be to surround herself with greenery.

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“I had health problems and other stress,” she said. “Then I started hiking and began bringing plants back into my life. I realized they made me feel good.”

Greaver began selling plants online and at farmers markets. But when the opportunity arose to set up a brick-and-mortar shop, she jumped at it, though it was in the middle of the pandemic, and though she is the mother of an energetic toddler, 2-year-old Cora Rose.

“I thought I was crazy for starting a business during COVID-19,” she said.

“But a lot more people are home right now. My favorite thing is to see all little kids obsessed with plants. It makes me so happy that we are teaching them to respect the planet.”

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Many calathea plants are sold at the Explorganics plant store in Bel Air.
Many calathea plants are sold at the Explorganics plant store in Bel Air. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

Greaver’s friends and customers — and there isn’t always a clear distinction between the two — say the shop reflects its owner’s personality, from the recycled furniture decorating Explorganics (everything in the store, Greaver says, “once belonged to someone else”) to such products as the organic soil she created herself using knowledge gleaned from botany and chemistry courses, to the “Artisan’s Corner” that offers for sale jewelry and other crafts created by local female entrepreneurs.

A velvet couch serves as the shop’s centerpiece. Behind it is a wall of hanging plants.

“I love this store,” said Danielle Mohr, 31, of Jarrettsville, a frequent occupant of that couch. “It doesn’t feel like a regular retail store. You can hang out and drink coffee and talk about plants. It’s extremely comfortable and relaxing.”

While Explorganics offers such familiar and easy-care houseplants as philodendrons and pothos, Greaver eventually hopes to specialize in rare tropical plants, including intricately patterned calatheas and vivid anthuriums.

Explorganics is a plant store in Bel Air that is owned by Shannon Greaver. Besides plants other items such as soy candles are sold.
Explorganics is a plant store in Bel Air that is owned by Shannon Greaver. Besides plants other items such as soy candles are sold. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

Mohr swears by a Neem oil spray that Greaver developed that revived a prized plant infested with red spider mites — a destructive pest that’s difficult to eradicate.

Greaver wants Explorganics to nurture people as well as plants.

During her farmers market days she became friendly with several local craftswomen whose talents she admired. When she opened her store, she set aside space to sell their wares. The result, “Artisan’s Corner,” was an immediate success.

“I am so proud of them,” Greaver said. “We all help and support each other.”

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