Top 10 Places for Houseplants in Orlando

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I kill houseplants. Ferns, aloe, ficus, cactus, succulent have all sacrificed themselves and gone to their deaths to avoid my plant-motherhood. I actually gave up on an orchid one time and flung it into someone’s side yard, only to have it be gorgeous and blooming just a few months later. My friend LeAnn Siefferman, professional ceramist and successful gardener, told me she’d teach me but I’m stalling. I’ve tried. I really have.

Hi, I’m Jenny, and I kill houseplants.

I’ve noticed that in the past year or so that something has happened to Orlando and the rest of America that has me wanting to try plant fostering again. My friends have all become plant parents; embracing the tiniest of cacti to the largest of fiddle leaf figs or tastiest fiddle fern. (Those are edible, btw.) They have dedicated themselves to keeping these small green beings alive. Beings? The blog, Plants are the Strangest People, seems to think so and gives names like Tyler and Jayvvon to Anthuriums. I know you came her for a list, so let me get on with it.

My picks for the best places to find houseplants and ceramics in Orlando:

  1. Porch Therapy is one of the best resources for not just houseplants or succulents or gardening, but landscaping too. If you’re thinking backyard oasis, get with these people. You can also pick up home goods and containers and gardening accessories here. Located at East End Market and The Heavy.

  2. Land of Alice Studio is available to ship you plants. That’s right, you can order plants by mail if you’re not able to get out to the shops. How convenient is that? Since very few people are doing it, she’s ahead of the trend. Go ahead, you know you want to.

  3. Palmer’s Garden & Goods is a beloved Orlando plant palace. Super duper cool and you can have events here too. Drive by at night to see market lights and dreamy garden parties happening within its fence. I did buy a lime tree here once that I planted in my friend’s yard over top of my dead cat. I have ignored that lime tree for two years now, letting my friend be the one to worry over it and water it and hope that fur or bone don’t resurface. I’m a good friend. Ha ha ha! (Sorry, Laura.)

  4. Palmer’s Feed Store where you can buy flats of peeps (baby chicks), a telephone pole, or vegetable plants and seeds. I’m just going to wait here while you click through to look at the picture menu. Scroll to ‘Pest Control’…impactful, right? I want that kind of pest control. They can tell you what’s safest to use around pets and best for your houseplants and gardens. It’s Florida, y’all, nature is b-r-u-t-a-l here.

  5. The Nook on Robinson is kind of a wild card entry but they have plants and amazing concrete containers provided by Till Plant Co. Go there and grab a kombucha and a new lil green friend if you’re far from the trailer location of Till.

  6. Florida Cactus Inc. is up in Apopka which is a teeny bit of a drive from Orlando. Maybe 40 minutes-ish. But SO worth the drive. Their greenhouses have zero competition around here. The colors and selection will blow your mind. So if it’s a cactus you want, it’s a cactus you’ll get.

  7. Craft & Common is where to stop in for delicious treats, killer coffee drinks and to find plants and sundries. It’s also where you can sit and sip for hours with friends under a neon sign in queen size wicker chairs. #Heavenly

  8. Hello Happy Plants is online and I want to think that she’s here in Orlando, so I just will. Best planters with messages that stick. Put on sunglasses and head to this website, unless you’re colorblind, and then just go ahead and click through.

  9. Orlando Pottery Studio is last but not least. The fact that you can actually learn to make and fire your own ceramics here in Orlando and that the place has been around for ages. After advancing to doing your own home ceramic work, check out Orlando artist Richard Munster’s kiln.

  10. The Sill is not in Orlando per se. It’s plants by mail. Gorgeously done with lots of resources. It’s the anti-Amazon of plant shopping online. They trademarked Plant Parenthood, I mean, can I even type that without paying them? Follow them on Insta with #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, also registered.

Instagram can’t be the only reason why people are suddenly becoming plant people. Plants are actually really cool. It’s what you can learn to take care of successfully before navigating a new relationship or getting a pet, or have a baby. Maybe it’s that they provide oxygen, and wellness is big business right now. So are plants though.

Since 2016, plant sales have actually increased 50% to 1.7 billion dollars according to the National Gardening Association. Fun fact, most of the growers are here in Florida but few of them sell online. Plant and garden stores themselves don’t have online shops available since they’re afraid of plants not arriving the way they were expected to. (If you’re looking to start a new business, this one is ripe for picking. Get it? So bad.) The article cited only underlines the fact that we can grow year round here. Our greenhouses are packed and lovely while the rest of the country suffers through something called seasons. The idea of gardening and growing your own food is just one leap further. Not such a big a leap from contributing your front yard to Fleet Farming to buying a little piece of land.

Lake County is just next door and has a few farms available. You could be like the Pasture Brothers and start raising your own chickens. Did you hear that Ikea is teaming up with designer Tom Dixon to come out with a new gardening tool line? The hope is that it will inspire urbanites to grow more food at home and in their communities. My dream has always been to be a goat farmer, but before jumping onto that path maybe I should start with something smaller. I could start with a succulent for my windowsill. I could…if I didn’t kill houseplants.

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Edible Education Experience

Say that five times fast and you've got a tongue twister.  The Edible Education Experience has a mission of "connecting students with seed-to-table learning experiences to build a healthy future."  And they do just that.  I took a walk with Garden Coordinator, Brad Jones who helped explain the mission further.  He really knows his stuff. 

As Garden Coordinator of Edible Education Experience, Jones handles everything related to the 1,500 sq.ft. Culinary Garden, from planning the crops and coordinating edible lessons with teachers to providing hands-on experiences for garden visitors and harvesting the garden’s produce.

Edible Education Experience 

26 E. King Street, Orlando, FL 32804
info@EdibleEd.org
http://instagram.com/EdibleEdExp
http://edibleed.org

 

Want to help out?

Edible Education Experience is always looking for a few good volunteers.  If this mission appeals to you and you'd like to get involved, you can click here.  

LOOKING FOR:

  • Committed volunteer gardeners to help cultivate the Culinary Garden.

  • Committed volunteer kitchen helpers.

  • Volunteer Chefs to be involved, leading a variety of sessions for a range of programs.

  • Educational liaisons to help build the foundation for field trips; to connect interested educators with our Edible Schoolyard Teacher Academy.

 

Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida

I used to live in Sarasota and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite places to wander.  Named for Marie Selby who lived on the property with her husband, William, for over 50 years.  She loved nature and when she passed in 1971, she left her home and gardens to the community "for the enjoyment of the general public." 

Selby Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to epiphytes.  They research, study, display, and conserve these plants that live on other plants.  Like air plants, they don't harm the host plant but rather just hang around as pals.  Some of the best examples are orchids, bromeliads, and gesneriads.  (Say that three times fast!)

It's a place of research and the scientific staff here have discovered more than 2,000 plant species. The collections on property include an herbarium of more than 110,000 dried and pressed specimens and over 30,000 preserved in fluids with some of the rarest dating back to the 1700s. 

If you're in Sarasota, take a couple hours to visit Selby Gardens.  The LIVE video below takes you on a walking tour through this living museum and shows the unique Warhol: Flower in the Factory works all over the property.  The exhibit is open from February to June 30, 2018 and "explores the surprising, and little known, role of nature in Warhol's art and life."

Exploring Nehrling Gardens

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Tucked away in Gotha, twenty minutes outside Orlando, you'll feel like you've teleported to some charming Northern city. Nehrling Gardens is a six-acre, botanical, exploration garden that famed German horticulturist Dr. Henry Nehrling began cultivating in 1895. This hidden gem is a pretty big deal since it's a Florida National Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Nerhling Gardens once covered 40-acres sprawling with tropical and subtropical plants that Nehrling would study year round. The 1880s Florida wood frame vernacular style home and semi-detached kitchen Nehrling and his family lived in, is still on the property, but in need of some fresh (lead-free) paint and refurbishing. All the upkeep, touring and addition services provided at Nehrling Gardens operate on a volunteer basis. A non-profit group established in 2000 work to keep the place running and keep visitors informed about its great history.

Nehrling is kind of an underrated legend. Having studied 3,000 new and rare plants for the Bureau of Plant Industry, now known as the USDA, he was the first to bring bamboo to Florida. Some of his plantings, including a 100-year old tree canopy, are still alive and well on site.

The property is near Lake Nally and has a wooden seating area that overlooks the water. Aside from majestic towering trees and beautiful, vibrant flowers, there's also a really unique tree, fallen from a storm, that is now an art piece with animals like gators, turtle, birds and fish carved into it.

This was a really interesting place to visit and learn about for me because Nehrling and I are both German! I had heard of Gotha, but had never been to the city and was surprised to know this small community was founded by German Americans in the 1870s. I very proudly rep my Caribbean heritage (Trini dem girls!), but learning about Nehrling made me more proud of my Deutschland people too. 

The garden is open to the public on the first and second Saturdays of each month. Private tours can be made by appointment with a $5 suggested donation. 

On April 28, the gardens will host one of its few special events for the year with Corks, Caladiums & Canvases. This is a chance to stroll through the grounds while trying food and wine from regions where some of the garden's plants originated. There will also be live music and a silent art auction. There's an open call for chefs and artists to supply talent for the event, if you're interested send an email to info@NehrlingGardens.org 

A bonus stop I would say you have to make when visiting Gotha is the burial site of famous TV painter and all-around chill dude Bob Ross. I never knew Bob was from Daytona and grew up in Orlando and I definitely didn't know he was buried so close by. 

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In the back of Woodlawn Cemetery in Section O you'll find Bob's marker. It's two rows up from the road between two sections of lawn and near a single tree with a bench-like marker. (Editors note: Nicole, they're never going to find it. I'll post the video below. LOL)

Leu Gardens: LEGO Bricks and Botanicals in Audubon Park

"Just as LEGO pieces interconnect, everything in nature is interconnected in a delicate balance. Insects and plants have important relationships; different species of animals have connections with their families just like we do."

Leu Gardens has a very special event happening called Nature Connects and it involves over 450,000 LEGO Bricks. Artist Sean Kenney is a self-proclaimed professional kid and he uses LEGO Bricks to create contemporary sculpture. This traveling exhibition has been touring the world since 2012 and truly is an incredible sight to see. 

It's available here in Orlando until April 22, 2018 so be sure to visit before it moves on. Brendan and I took a walk through the garden and saw every single one of Kenney's creatures. Did you know:

  • Over 464,770 LEGO Bricks were used for the exhibit.

  • There are 16 sculptures, so grab a map to find them all.

  • It took Kenney over 4,500 hours to build all the sculptures.



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Be sure to look up!