The Florida Chronicles
January 16th, 2023
Today, we flew to Florida to find the rarest, most beautiful, and most exciting houseplants for 2023! Our group from Tonkdale included Hayden, our Greenouse Manager, Hannah, our Greenhouse Team Lead, and of course me, Jessie, (cause I just can't help myself) on our yearly plant scouting expedition.
First stop Loxahatchee, just north of Ft. Lauderdale. With Hayden at the wheel our destination is a grower specializing in rare hoya. Upon arrival, we see hundreds of hoya just hanging in the trees. These are the mother plants from which they take cuttings. Our favorites include the Hoya latifolia, commonly known as the dinner plate hoya and Hoya patcharawalai, commonly known as the seaside succulent. We also loved their rare collection of Bird's Nest Ferns and randomly came across and unknown collectors' species that the owner was willing to sell for only $40.00! Growing in droves were table upon table of bonsai starter plants and mini orchids. Further investigation needed to figure out how to get our hands on some of these beauties. Hayden left with a very reasonably priced Philodendron veitchii and Hannah got her hands on a Hoya AH-074 Silver.
We would have loved to stay longer, but they needed to close up the greenhouses and turn on the supplemental heat 'cause alas, the low was in the 40's that night. Brrr if you're a plant or person living in Florida.
Next, it was time to drive across the state to land at home base in Tampa. 3.5 hours later, we arrived, rode hard and put away wet, at our hotel. There, we had a simple dinner and watched the Bucs loose to the Cowboys. So sad. Off to bed to dream planty dreams.
January 17th, 2023
Today, we drove to Apopka to visit tropical plant growers. There are greenhouses and shade houses as far as the eye can see. Some sophisticated, but most are quite rustic.
Our first stop was a grower we have purchased from for 20+ years. Very organized. Green as far as the eye can see. We buy over 3,000 ivy plants from this grower in the spring - mostly for outdoor planters. We found several other gems along the way. My favorite was the Calathea roseopicta 'Green'. Hannah loved the Hoya kroniana 'Black', and Hayden was all about the 6" Mohawk Sansevieria of which we have only been able to source 10" plants in the past.
Stop number two was a large growing range, half of which had succumbed to fire in the last year. Devastating, but they are slowly rebuilding. The greenhouses that remained did not disappoint. The grower there was working on building up stock of several rare, never before seen to us specimens and we couldn't be more excited. Top of the list included the variegated heart-leaf philodendron, a one-of-a-kind variegated bird's nest anthurium, an entire house of bird's nest ferns, and so many specimen monstera. There were so many gorgeous staked and stacked philodendron and pothos. Those will certainly be on a truck to Minnesota soon! What was really unique were the 4" and 6" assorted philodendron mixes. There were like 10 different philodendron cuttings in each pot. Time will tell how that turns out!
On to grower number three. This place was growing peperomia, cryptanthus, hoya, and aglaonema as far as the eye can see. I fell in love with all the varieties of aglaonema - a highly underrated plant in my opinion!
Off to lunch, lots of tacos!
The last stop of the day was a grower who specializes in growing 2" plants, mini succulents, and cactus. So darn cute! Hannah fell in love with all the carnivorous plants. We finally found a sundew plant variety that is available and ready to ship! Hayden loved the Aeonium nodosum beneficios. We had to practice a bit to spit that one out! My favorite was the Peperomia caperata 'Quito'. The foliage was like a January sunset in Florida!
January 18th, 2023
Today was the Day 1 of TPIE. This is the premier Tropical Plant Expo put on by the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association. We arrived right at 9 am ready to tour the trade show, but to our chagrin, it didn't open until 10:00 am! Not to worry, we got to meet up with Casey and Kale, the Botanical Brothers from Fargo, ND! They have so many cool ideas about events and classes to host in the greenhouse. Plant trivia night anyone?!
Sol Soils was representin' Minneapolis with a last minute temporary booth in the atrium of the tradeshow. Way to go boys! Sell that gritty mix!
Finally, 10:00 am rolled around and we were let loose on the floor! Gasp, an entire convention center full of the latest and greatest tropical plants. Giant, mature Aroids as far as the eye could see!
This year's show was bigger and better. With 25% more vendors to visit, we noticed more availability in the marketplace, competitive pricing, and so many new plants coming down the line. Our top ten picks in no particular order:
- Variegated Hoya macrophylla
- Vriesia 'Tangy'
- Variegated Vanilla Bean Orchid
- 8" Ficus Standards, perfect for the patio
- Peperomia 'Velvet Tree'
- Alocasia cheinlii 'Anthro Velvet'
- Alocasia Jacklyn
- Tri-color Anthurium
- Variegated Alocasia Frydek
- Philodendron melinonii
A quick trip to Florida is just what we needed to get inspired and refreshed for the year ahead. Hayden and Hannah feverishly writing orders as we speak. They are some of the best and the brightest when it comes to plant sourcing. Bring it on 2023!