“That guy is super simple; he can handle very little light and water once a month. When you do water it, I want you to fully saturate that soil,” Ellie Wilke instructs a customer about her newly purchased Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ) plant. She then shares how and when to repot it. It’s a typical Wednesday afternoon at The Budding Florist, the plant and floral boutique Wilke launched at Findlay Market in November 2017 and moved into an Elm Street storefront in April. Armed with a degree in art history from UC’s DAAP, Wilke says she’s always had an innate love of plants, flowers, and the outdoors, thanks to her mother and grandmother, both talented gardeners. “I was the child that was always getting yelled at for picking flowers out of the garden,” she says, but owning a plant shop wasn’t a part of her master plan. Instead, it happened organically.
During college, Wilke worked for a floral and event design studio at Findlay Market (that occupied the same merchant space she’d move into in 2017), where she fell in love with creating flower arrangements. After graduation, she tried her hand at interior design but realized she’d rather “do design using natural elements.” So she left the firm and took a job at a greenhouse, where she further developed her knowledge of plants. She continued growing her passion and skill set as a designer for a local plantscaping company, her final role before becoming a merchant at Findlay Market.
It’s these experiences, plus her unique design style, that set Wilke’s dog-friendly plant shop apart from others. Her offerings are standard—tropical houseplants, wedding and event arrangements, grab-and-go bouquets, and a buy-by-the-stem flower bar—but her designs are anything but. Her arrangements are “inspired by Mother Nature” and have an organic, wild, boho-chic feel. “It’s not forced. I let [the flowers and plants] be what they need to be,” says Wilke, who, instead of buying in bulk, hand-selects flowers and plants from local and national greenhouses on a weekly basis. She prides herself on being affordable and having a knowledgeable all-female staff. “It’s trendy now to have a plant shop, but a lot of people don’t have experience with it,” she says. “People want their plants to survive and they want them to be happy.” Walk into her shop, and Wilke and her friendly staff will ensure you and your plants leave wiser and happier.
Good to Know: A helpful piece of advice Wilke shared with a customer during our visit: It’s best to repot plants in times of growth and change, like spring and fall, not summer or winter.
The Budding Florist, 1817 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 562-7185