Jessica Cohen has her roots in plants. Combining her knowledge of tropical vegetation from her mother’s Colombian heritage with her knowledge of desert vegetation from her father’s Mexican roots, she said she can confidently pair plants with people.

Cohen owns and runs Dirt Bag, a Montrose-based plant shop selling plants, pots and dirt while partnering with local artists to sell their products in the shop. It offers resources for every step of plant care: purchasing, potting, pruning and protecting from disease. Before opening Dirt Bag, Cohen worked in brand management. Inspired by shops filled with plants during a visit to a client in Belgium, she realized selling plants inside was perfect for Houston.

“Who wants to shop for plants outside? It’s 100 degrees,” Cohen said.

Fast forward to 2020, and Cohen found gardening therapeutic during the coronavirus pandemic and wanted to share its benefits with others. Realizing she had kept work and gardening separate for too long, she married them in Dirt Bag, opening its doors Aug. 20, 2020.

“We didn’t know anything about retail, but we knew plants, and we knew Houston,” Cohen said.

Cohen’s family owns the 1919-built house Dirt Bag occupies. She grew up in the Montrose neighborhood and wants to protect the old house from demolition, she said.

Cohen said the house provides a perfect set of conditions for the plants. With natural light, high humidity and low ventilation, the plants thrive.

Staff at Dirt Bag match customers with the right plant for their level of plant care experience, lifestyle and home lighting. Staff will also repot plants for free, drill drainage holes in planters, diagnose and treat plant sicknesses, and even do site visits for larger plants. Workshops taught by shop staff or vendors educate budding plant parents on plant-related topics, including potting, plant care, soil mixing and propagating.

It also makes and sells dirt in house—hence the name Dirt Bag. Cohen emphasized the importance of using high-quality dirt to keep a plant healthy, comparing it to eating food.

Cohen said she is selective about the nurseries the plants are sourced from. She prioritizes healthy, high-quality plants over quantity. Dirt Bag sources its plants from specialty farms in the Texas Hill Country, Florida and California.

The shop also helps local artists get a foot in the door by offering them a market to sell their products, including candles, planters and hanging pots made from a variety of materials. Dirt Bag also joins markets and pop-up shops around the area to bring its plants and artists’ creations to more of the community.

“We make it a point to carry stuff you’re not going to find anywhere else,” Cohen said. “It’s our way to support the community, keep the money in Texas, keep the money in Houston.”

Dirt Bag

701 Gray St., Ste. 1, Houston


Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily