Plant Healing: The Haus Plant in Los Angeles

Owner Robert Moffitt blends a background in nursing and passion for plants for a greenhouse on wheels.

  • Category
    People + Profiles
  • Written by
    Jennie Nunn
  • Photos by
    Edwin Santiago
  • Above
    The Haus Plant mobile truck

During the pandemic, Wisconsin native Robert Moffitt, owner of The Haus Plant in Los Angeles, took destiny into his own hands and turned a pipe dream into a reality. “I initially got more into plants after a difficult time in my life, and working with plants provided a pause and became sort of therapeutic for me,” says Moffitt, who has worked as a nurse at UCLA for eight years. “That passion was noticed by my friend who asked me to come work with him. After a few years this same friend encouraged me to go off and start my own plant business. During the beginning of the pandemic [and with things shutting down] I wanted to think outside the box with how I was going to approach this.”

Owner Robert Moffitt inside his mobile shop gone greenhouse

But, for Moffitt, opening a standard storefront came with a host of pros and cons. “A brick-and-mortar was expensive in Los Angeles,” explains Moffitt. “And I couldn’t afford to open the space that I would be happy with.”

The Haus Plant

So, eight months ago, he began scheming, designing, and sketching his solution: a mobile truck replete with a greenhouse roof, track lighting, hardwood floors, and shelving. His converted mobile shop, once a blank white delivery truck, wasn’t exactly easy to find. “That was another hurdle when starting [because of the pandemic], it was difficult to buy a truck and it took me a few months to even find one,” recalls Moffitt who worked with a stable of graphic designers and builders for the seven-month-long transformation. “It came together as this sort of little boutique plant shop on wheels that enables me to go all over Los Angeles from your trendy areas of Venice and Silverlake, to more of your high-end neighborhoods like Malibu, Pacific Palisades, and Brentwood.”

Moffitt inside The Haus Plant truck with a custom, greenhouse-like roof

Moffitt, who stocks a mix of plants spanning Snake plants and Cypress trees, believes in having something for everyone. “We carry everything from your basic plants like a Pothos or Snake plant up to your rare collector plants,” says Moffitt. “I am always on the hunt for unique specimens. I have always loved some of the rare South African plants like my favorite, the Operculiarya decaryi, known as the Elephant tree [it’s easy to care for being drought-tolerant, and the more mature ones have a neat bonsai look to their trunk.] I try to have something for all experience and skill levels.”

The Haus Plant parked in Los Angeles

While he carries plants for different skill levels, he explains one of the single most important bits of advice he can offer is: to check the soil. “Check the soil of your plants either with your finger or a chopstick to see if the soil is still wet before you water again,” says Moffitt. “One other thing I see a lot is people misting their plants. Misting actually doesn’t really help with the humidity that so many houseplants prefer, instead it just leaves moisture on the leaf surface and makes them more prone to fungal diseases. If you want to provide humidity for your plants, the best thing you can do is group them and run a humidifier that will aerosolize the water.”

Moffitt on the road with The Haus Plant

When it comes to plant health and cultivating a green thumb, he also believes it’s important to stay positive and accept the learning curve. ” I always tell people try not to get frustrated,” he says. “I have killed more plants than probably any of my customers, but you learn as you go and as long as you are enjoying it that is what is important. We have to remember, we are taking these tropical plants that are supposed to be growing in the jungles of Brazil and Southeast Asia and placing them in our apartments with no humidity and rarely enough light, so give yourself some slack if your plant doesn’t make it on your first or second try.”

For now, Moffitt has landed right where he wants to be. “Not being able to afford my initial dream of a brick-and-mortar plant shop was a true blessing in disguise,” says Moffitt, who has since hosted events for Netflix and Instagram and attended weekly farmers markets and grand openings in West Hollywood. “Having to think outside the box and open this mobile greenhouse truck has allowed me to move around throughout Los Angeles and to meet and work with so many other small business owners, artists, and companies.”

The Haus Plant in Los Angeles

But, most of all, Moffitt is reaping the personal benefits of seeing his two passions intermingle. “I love being able to encourage first-time plant parents and help them pick out a plant that they are going to be successful with,” says Moffitt, who ultimately hopes to launch a second truck, and later, a storefront as a home base. “Nursing has been such a great profession, however, I have this creative side of me that I have been wanting to explore. The Haus Plant has allowed me to start being more creative with building arrangements and doing some interior plant design. I think nursing and caring for people is a rewarding experience much like caring for plants and watching something grow. Sometimes caring for others and going through something like a pandemic, we as caregivers often forget to care for ourselves. Plants have, and I think always will be, my self-care.”

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