I remember my grandfather Orie working in the greenhouse, wearing overalls and a denim apron as needed to keep off peat moss, perlite and any other debris from his work. Actually it wasn’t work for Orie; it was his passion. Like Dad, I don’t remember Orie having traditional hobbies, no hunting, no fishing. Maybe travel was what they both enjoyed outside of the garden center. After spending a couple of years in a pup tent during WWII, Dad wasn’t ready to camp anytime soon.
Orie was the plant propagator during his time at the garden center. For our spring plant sales he would sow multiple varieties of tomato, pepper, and all sorts of annual flowering plants. We had tables with bottom heat for vegetative propagation of mostly foliage plants - Joseph’s coat, lantana and santolina cuttings originating from the ‘W’ on Wichita Hill. (Who remembers where that was located?)
Plant propagation has come a long way in the decades since Orie was in the greenhouse. Not only has our industry developed automated seeding of plants into small thimble sized plugs for automated transplanting, tissue culture is used to mass produce plants in the laboratory. Many of our nursery, ornamental and tropical foliage plants are propagated by tissue culture. The process involves using a small plant part to grow cells in a nutrient solution in a sterile environment in a laboratory. It’s a very fast way to produce many plants in a small space. Where we grew dozens of plants in the past, growers today are able to produce hundreds of transplants and, fortunately for retailers and consumers, produce them at a fraction of the cost.
A good example of this just arrived on our most recent plant delivery from Florida. A few short months ago Pothos ‘White Princess’ and ‘Pink Princess’ were considered rare (and very expensive) house plants. On social media they were the hot topic, and we had a tough time sourcing just a few plants. With growers now producing these collectible plants by tissue culture, the quantity available has now increased and they are available at a much more affordable price.
I hope you’ll stop by and check out our selection of not only basic foliage plants but also unique offerings for your home or office.
It’s time to get back to work; I’ll go put on my bibs and denim apron. I’m truly fortunate to be able to do that!!
Your friend in the garden,
Owner - Johnson's Garden Center