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.

 

Visit Mini Animals at Lil' Bit of Life Farm

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Lil’ Bit of Life Farm’s message is "Healing with a little help from our friends".  Owner Tracey Rinehart has poured her heart and soul into developing her mission to provide healing with four-legged friends.  "Horses train us to have balance, feelings of strength, coordination, confidence, grace, and peace." Tracey’s first horse, Bailey, taught her these very things, and she wants to share.

Also home to the G.R.I.T.S. 4-H Club, the organization is service oriented assisting living facilities and businesses in the Lake County area.  Our visit to Lil Bit of Life Farm was timed with a few events in mind.  Tracey had just gotten some ducks, there were new baby pigs, and the goats were about to give birth.  We saw it all in our tour.

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Check out these activities held at the farm:

  • Horsemanship - No riding involved. The experience is a hands-on course in learning how to care for your mini friend. You will bathe, groom, hoof care, and walk them while building a friendship relationship. Memory, fine motor skills, judgment, and focus are improved.

  • Obstacle Course - No riding involved. Designed with obstacles and patterns with you and your mini leading the way. Build relationship and trust. Learn positive leadership skills, team building skills, and build self-confidence.

  • Teaching Kindness - This program focuses on teaching empathy and compassion through interaction with small animals. The lesson plans are based not the principles of Humane Education. You will work with small farm animals, including goats, bunnies, and minis.

“There is something good about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.”

The benefit to Lil Bit of Life Farm is so much more than just the experience of meeting Tracey and her animals.  It’s the difference that they make in Mount Dora and Lake County. 

Schedule a visit to the farm:

Groups large and small are welcome!  There’s plenty of parking and the farm is easy to navigate. 

  • Birthday Party entertainment

  • Day Camps for Youth (5-13) on scheduled days

  • Photos for daycare and pre-school with a miniature horse

  • Schedule an hour of quality family time with a mini

Lil' Bit of Life 

(407) 461-3091
Mount Dora, FL
@lil_bit_of_life
http://lilbitoflife.com

Interview: Kim Fox, Artist and Urban Farmer

Kim Fox and I have known each other for over thirty years. We went to high school together and have been close friends ever since. She has always amazed me with her talented artistic ability, and has also inspired me with her urban homesteading skills. In thinking about what to write, all I can conjure up is the memory of tasting her fresh-baked bread slathered with melted butter and homemade Concord grape freezer jam. With that thought in mind, I'll let her tell you a bit more about her urban farm in Pittsburgh.

1. Tell me about your evolution as an urban farmer. How did you get into chickens and urban chicken farming?

I have long been interested in gardening.  I remember helping my dad in the garden as child and eating the lettuce leaves as I worked. Even then I was struck by how good that lettuce was - way better than the heads of iceberg from the grocery. In keeping my own garden I try to learn a little more, expand a bit, each year. I'm also a sucker for hand-me-down plants, flowers, herbs, etc. I figure anything is worth a try.

Years ago we were having drinks with friends and the woman said she needed to find someone to take over her beehives after her move. I had had just enough wine to make it sound like a great idea and I volunteered on the spot. I immediately began researching - taking classes locally, reading books from the library, ordering supply catalogs - anything I could do to gain knowledge about this new endeavor.

I loved everything about the bees so much; the smell of the hives, watching them wake up and get to work in the mornings and settle down in the evenings, the delicious honey they made. Unfortunately, the winter after my son was born I checked on the hives and the bees were all dead. It was awful. I'm still not exactly sure what happened but I don't believe it was Colony Collapse Disorder. Rather I believe that my neighbors had had enough of me and the bees and sprayed the hive. Whatever the truth is it was awful to see. I haven't had bees since then. I was wrapped up in raising my son and then we moved to a new neighborhood and, even after eight years here, I feel like we're still settling in.  I definitely plan to keep bees again in the near future but I want to make sure that our nearest neighbors are all on board with the idea so as to avoid any tension, fear or animosity.

In this new (old) house I started right away putting in perennials. I think nothing makes a house look more lived in than established plantings. We moved in mid-September and in the rush of beginning a major renovation I insisted on getting a few perennials in the Fall ground. Each year I add more (including any orphan plants the neighbors drop off!) and it's really beginning to take shape. We inherited old, old grape vines that I'm working to bring back to glory. They yieldloads of fruit in the Fall and I make jars and jars of freezer jam for neighbors, friends and family. We have planted apple trees and raspberries. We built a large raised bed in the garden off of the kitchen. That is planted with garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs like cilantro, tarragon, rosemary and basil.

Five years ago I decided it would be fun to raise chickens. I am not patient and when I get an idea in my head, it's all over. Within weeks, armed with books from the library, I ordered my chicks by mail, pestered random chicken-keepers for information and left over supplies, and set up a brooder in the basement. Once the chicks arrived we began to build a hen house in the back yard to be ready in time for them to outgrow the brooder and move outside.

I knew I would enjoy the process of raising and keeping chickens but I wasn't prepared for loving the hens. I love them. I look forward to seeing them in the morning. I let them out each day to roam our yard and the yards of some nearby neighbors. I take them treats (kitchen scraps) throughout the day just to be able to watch them run to me excitedly. They are pets that happen to lay 4-5 gorgeous, delicious eggs each day. How can it be better?

My dad and step-mom were in town a few weeks ago and we made a feast of fresh pasta with eggs from our hens, sauce made from the tomatoes in the garden, and ground venison from my uncle's recent hunt. We knew exactly where our meal came from and it was heavenly to taste. A true feast.

2. Tell us about your flock.

I have five hens. A Speckled Sussex named Lady Whistle, a Barred Rock named Louise, an Easter Egger named Ms Jackson, a Grey Laced Wyandotte named Frannie, and a Buckeye named Marie. The Easter Egger is a mixed breed who lays a lovely blue-green egg and is the sassiest and goofiest looking. Lady Whistle is gorgeous and strong and independent. 

3. Have you run into any resistance from local government or neighbors? How did you handle it?

Thankfully, my municipality is one that allows hens. They don't allow roosters which make for nuisance neighbors but the hens don't need a man around to lay eggs so we're in luck. The majority of my neighbors seem to love the hens. They get the benefit of fresh eggs without having the burden of the labor so what's not to love? The hens aren't super noisy except when they boast about the eggs they just laid. They are great natural pest-control in the garden and they fertilize like crazy. I have had only one negative run-in with a neighbor who seems to be afraid of the hens. It was totally my fault as I let them free-range but I didn't realize they'd free-range four houses away! The woman called Animal Control as she didn't know to whom the hens belonged. Animal Control came around and interviewed some neighbors and visited me. The Animal Control man loves chickens and said, "If I had my way they be roaming everywhere but in the streets." He lives in the next town and is envious of the fact that my town allows hens and his doesn't. It all was very friendly, but I've taken to minding my hens much more closely in an attempt to be a better neighbor.

4. Are you a member of any urban farming organizations in Pittsburgh?

I am loosely affiliated with a group of Bee and Chicken Keepers. I am working with another woman to start a local group here in the South Hills and we'll attempt to raise awareness about the benefits of raising chickens and also try to work out a good source of organic feed for our area. There are a lot of active agricultural groups here in PIttsburgh and I feel one of my next steps will be to reach out and get involved in one or two of them.

5. How does the urban farmer gig mesh with the other roles you play? (Wife, Mother, Artist, Citizen, Community Member, Etc.)

I think the Mama Farmer role suits me and meshes perfectly with the rest of my life. It was been a joy to get my son, Whistle, involved in every aspect of raising and keeping the hens. It's a terrific way to meet neighbors as they come by and say "Oh my gosh, are those CHICKENS?" which results in a tour of the garden and hen house and often times, a promise to meet at the Saloon up the street for a drink. My artwork is always based on the simple things around me so now it just naturally includes chickens which fit perfectly into my existing stable of birds, bees, farm equipment, etc.

6. What three pieces of advice would you give someone who is considering becoming an urban farmer?

Learn the rules in your town first. I know someone who spent a bunch of money on a hen house set-up only to learn he wasn't allowed to keep hens in his town.

Do your research! Volunteer, read, take classes, get online. There are a million resources for anything you want to get involved in.

Take a leap! Nothing will happen if you don't.