The sister duo is opening a green shop in downtown San Pedro

Brittany Montero and her brother Jose were not close growing up. With a 10-year age gap between them, they didn’t have much in common. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the siblings reconnected through their shared interest in plants.

Brittany, 33, said it started as a hobby to overcome isolation in quarantine, and a way to heal by bringing the outdoors inside. Jose said he would often drive to visit his sister and return home with a car full of plants.

“We were looking for free plants all the time,” said Jose, 23. “It was how we bonded in adulthood.”

In our Plant PPL series, we interview people of color in the plant world. If you have suggestions for inclusion through the PPL, tag us on Instagram @latimesplants.

This shared hobby quickly turned into an obsession with spreading their knowledge and love of houseplants to others. The Monteros began holding pop-up plant markets in March 2022, which they said was hit or miss but provided valuable lessons about what it takes to run a small business. By October of that year, they – or rather the brothers – had opened their own plant store in downtown San Pedro, Prop house plants.

Brittany, who worked in the film industry before starting this project, said the store’s name is a nod to prop houses used for movies, which tend to have an entire section dedicated to plants. It’s also a play on the word Spread, It is botanical language for the process of reproducing multiple plants from a single plant, usually by replanting cuttings from the parent plant.

Jose and Brittany say running a business as brothers is both fun and challenging. Brittany said there are times when they clash, but she credits their open communication as the driving force behind their ability to meet and overcome challenges. She said she loves working with her brother and seeing their dream of running their own business become a reality.

Their 300-square-foot store is small but mighty, with greenery inhabiting nearly every inch from floor to ceiling. Dozens of succulents hang from wooden shelves around the room, and colorful pots collected from estates and yard sales dot the floor. Quirky details like an old CRT TV, an antique yellow telephone, and an unassuming factory bearing a name tag reading “Frank” add to the store’s character.

A young woman and a young man lift a plant from the ground.  They are surrounded by pots and plants on the shelves.

Brittany and Jose Montero work in their store.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

There is a plant above the CRT TV.  There are other plants next to and below it.

An eclectic mix of period decor is featured at Prop House Plants.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Jose and Brittany began their entrepreneurial journey at a young age and taught themselves almost everything they know, often using the Internet as a resource, Jose and Brittany said. Naturally, their roles at work fall into place. Jose, who used to work in social media management, runs his online presence on TikTok and Instagram, while Brittany, armed with years of experience in the corporate world, handles finance and business strategy on the back end.

“Even when things are tough, we have each other,” Jose said. “It’s not scary, and it’s not lonely. A win is a good win, you know?”

Brittany and Jose proudly watched the ruby ​​chain (Otona capensis(climbing wall, donkey tail)Morgan seat(It grows from its pot and the Chinese money plant)Pilea peperomoid) She tossed her coin-shaped leaves from her stem all over the store.

Their grandmother had an exceptional green thumb, Jose said. Avocado, mango and guava trees and piles of roses flourished in her Hawthorne yard when they were children. The siblings said they enjoyed helping their grandmother water the garden.

Their father’s side of the family owned a ranch in Cuba before immigrating to the United States 50 years ago. The family grew much of their food on the farm, and her grandmother brought those skills with her to Los Angeles, Brittany said.

“My family lived in a low-income area of ​​Hawthorne, and there was concrete everywhere you looked,” Brittany said. “But then you see this lush green forest at our grandmother’s house. It was magical.”

Prop House specializes in beginner-friendly, low-maintenance plants like the snake plant (Dracaena RHis bandages were put back on), the jewel of pothos and Zanzibar (aka ZZ plant). Brittany and Jose said their mission is to teach people how to care for their plants and show them that plant ownership isn’t as scary as it may seem.

Two face-shaped pots, one white and one green, hold plants.

Exotic details like plants in expressive pots adorn the Prop House plants.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Young woman with long dark hair smiling holding a green plant.

Brittany Monteiro holds one of her favorite plants.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Their store offers affordable services including plant treatment, repotting and interior design. Starting at $5, Prop House will help you pot your plant by meticulously removing old soil, inspecting the roots, and adding new soil in store. Or starting at $10, the store will evaluate the overall health of your plant, diagnose any problems, remove unhealthy tissue, and clean the leaves to make it look like brand new.

“We’re like a plant doctor,” Brittany said.

Brittany and Jose can also recommend plants that will best suit your space based on light, temperature, maintenance, and of course, aesthetic. They offer free in-store consultations; Sourcing and installing plants starts at $100 per hour.

A pair of glasses sitting on the leaves of a green plant.

Exotic touches highlight the plants at Prop House Plants.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The store sends each plant buyer home with a personalized plant care card that includes detailed instructions on watering, humidity and light.

“We want to make sure our customers feel confident and excited about taking care of their plant,” Jose said.

there Many studies Which suggests that indoor plants may improve psychological and physiological health problems including Anxiety and depression Beside Stress and high blood pressure. Also, potted plants can reduce air pollution in homes and offices, according to researchers research From the University of Birmingham in England.

Given these potential benefits, it’s no surprise that people regularly gravitate toward Prop House Plants just to take a break.

Colorful pots holding plants line the floor.  Other plants are placed on shelves.

Prop House Plants has a wide selection of small and large plants.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

A young woman and a young man smiling outside the reading door "Prop house plants."

Brittany and Jose Montero outside their store.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

“People will come in for a few minutes and say they just need a moment of peace,” Brittany said.

Although they love their cozy storefront in San Pedro, the duo envisions expanding. As with propagation, they hope to take the original roots from the small business and replant them in a larger space, with the aim of making plant care knowledge accessible to everyone.

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