Bay Ridge ‘plant doctor’ to celebrate family-run store’s 50th anniversary

Bay Ridge's "plant doctor" celebrates store's 50th anniversary on April 6th.
Helena De Paola will celebrate The Indoor Outdoor Gardener’s 50th anniversary on April 6.
Photo courtesy of Juliette De Paola

Bay Ridge’s resident “plant doctor” and owner of The Indoor Outdoor Gardener will use her green thumbs to celebrate the store’s 50th anniversary this weekend.

When it comes to taking care of plants, no one in Bay Ridge knows more than Helena De Paola, who has run the Fifth Avenue shop for half a century.

To celebrate the storefront’s longstanding legacy, De Paola is inviting all of Bay Ridge to stop by The Indoor Outdoor Gardener on Saturday, April 6 to check out her backyard full of plants and discover the intricacies of the botanical world. De Paolo also hopes celebrants will enjoy some wine and dance along to 50s tunes — the shop’s unofficial soundtrack.

De Paolo’s shop dates back to 1974, when she and her late husband Peter opened a small store, selling just flowers and shrubs. As the business — and its plants — bloomed, the pair branched out to open a larger plant and hydroponic store on Fifth Avenue in 1977, where The Indoor Outdoor Gardener still stands today.

Helena De Paola poses next to her blooming shrubbery at her Bay Ridge storefront.
Helena De Paola poses next to her blooming shrubbery at The Indoor Outdoor Gardener in Bay Ridge.Photo courtesy of Juliette De Paola

Juliette De Paola, daughter of the plant enthusiast, said the celebration is not only for the shop but also to honor her mother’s expertise and love for the community. 

“What sets my mother apart is not just her expertise but her genuine love for teaching. A former teacher herself, she shares her knowledge enthusiastically on social media and with everyone who walks through our doors,” she told Brooklyn Paper. “Some [customers]  have even gone so far as to leave their ailing plants on our doorstep with desperate notes, trusting in my mother’s ability to revive them.”

Small businesses tend to be a product of love and this family-run shop is no different.

When De Paola’s husband died in 2006, her oldest daughter, Eva Landy, partnered with her to keep the shop running. De Paola says that Landy, much like her father, runs the hydroponics, irrigation systems, lighting and the high-tech aspects of the store. All the while, De Paola provides expert advice to plant-lovers while working to help their greenery reach its full potential.

No one has a better green thumb than these plant experts.
The De Paola family takes their green thumbs very seriously.Photo courtesy of Juliette De Paola

“My mother’s passion for plants and her extensive knowledge in the field has earned her the endearing title of the ‘plant doctor’ among our customers,” Juliette said. “With a solid reputation reflected in numerous five-star Yelp reviews and a loyal customer base that spans far beyond our local community, our store has become a destination for plant enthusiasts seeking expert advice.”

The shop’s 50th anniversary celebration will take place on from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday at the 8223 Fifth Ave.