Exploring the Forest: expert advice from Deptford and East Dulwich-based plant shop

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We hears some top tips for caring for your plants from the plant shop owner who even hosts workshops

What is your best tip for looking after house plants?

Alice Bailey: The key to plant care is understanding your home environment and finding the right plants to suit it. Thinking about where a plant comes from and how it might grow in the wild is really useful when it comes to choosing plants for your space. 

For example, cacti and succulents are found in the desert, so prefer hot, dry air and lots of bright sunlight. A south facing windowsill or conservatory would be perfect. In a shaded bathroom with lots of humidity, they would suffer.

Alice Bailey is the managing director of Deptford’s Forest, and comes from a family of horticulturists, “so I’ve been surrounded by plants and flowers from a young age”.

She says: “My grandpa is a Dutch grower of cut flowers and had a nursery and allotment where we would spend much of our time growing up. My mum is a florist and grows cut flowers from her flower farm in Kent. I started working with her as a teenager and my interest in flowers and plants grew from there.”

Tell us more about Forest…

My sister and I had been experimenting with growing and caring for indoor plants for a while before we decided to start selling them.

At first this was from our Mum’s flower shop, but when we noticed the interest and demand start to grow, we decided to open a dedicated space – and that’s when the Forest shop in East Dulwich opened. 

The popularity of houseplants seemed to boom, and after four years in Dulwich we decided to open in Deptford.

We both went to school in New Cross so knew the area well and had seen how it was changing. That was seven years ago now and we’ve loved watching Deptford evolve ever since!

What do customers visit Forest looking for?

Plants, of course, but our customers know they can come to us for help and advice, re-potting tips, and all their houseplant care accessories.

Outside of plants, we offer a wide range of homeware, skincare and spa products, scented candles, Aesop, cut flowers, and furniture! 

We run workshops from our Deptford shop as well – candle making, flower arranging, modern calligraphy… the list goes on. We’rea also taking wedding bookings now, too.

How do you help in advising customers on looking after their plants? 

We have a really knowledgeable team who have a broad understanding of plants in general but are particularly great at getting to know our customers “plant care styles” and which plants will work best for them.

And what is a common mistake that people get wrong when it comes to looking after plants?

Too much water! Houseplants need very little watering, and many would prefer to dry out before they’re watered again.

Instead of crazy cat lady, some people become crazy plant people – why do you think owning and looking after house plants is so popular?

Many of us in the city have little-to-no outdoor space. Having plants in your home is a fantastic way to connect to nature, and the act of nurturing your plants has been proven to improve your mental health. Indoor gardening is very rewarding and therapeutic!

And how do you think plants can elevate a space in a home?

The life they give to a space is something you can only get from plants. They’re a fantastic way to fill an empty spot on a sideboard or create a point of interest in the same way a piece of art would.

And finally, what are your local Deptford recommendations?

So many it’s impossible to list them all!

We love the sense of community in Deptford – we all know our neighbours and support each other in helping the local community thrive. 

We love a glass of natural wine after work with one of our neighbours, Hop Burns & Black. Dinner at KiliG followed by a cocktail at Bluethroat is a regular occurrence for us, too. 

Deptford Does Art is my go-to spot for the most beautiful locally made gifts, and Petit Village for all our food shopping. But really you should take the time to visit as many spots as possible, because the food and drink here is incredible!

Arch 4 Deptford Station, Deptford Market Yard, Deptford, SE8 4NS



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