Rare tropical plants put Detroit on the world stage

Rare tropical plants put Detroit on the world stage

For plant lover Jocelyn Ho, what started as a hobby during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown has evolved into more than she ever expected.

Known as the rare plant fairy, Ho, 36, quickly gained international fame after she opened a tropical plant nursery inside an old truck depot on Detroit’s east side.

“It started out as a hobby that got out of control,” he said, laughing. “I was collecting a lot of plants and my husband was saying, ‘You’re spending a lot of money on these plants.’ We couldn’t even look out the window. The plants covered the window sills in our small apartment. I told him it was an investment, because I know how much I spent on these plants.” “.

She and her husband, Sean O’Neill, moved to Detroit after he was transferred to work on the Hudson skyscraper project. That’s when they both fell in love with the city.

The atmosphere in Detroit is different, he says. She and her husband have lived all over the world but Detroit is where they decided to call home and open the factory business. She says she admires how people in Detroit want to do something to improve the city, and she wants to be part of that movement.

She grew exotic tropical houseplants inside her guest bedroom. In an effort to declutter her house one weekend, she decided to sell her plant cuttings on Facebook Marketplace.

She made $1,000 selling two plants and that was the start of her new venture, Rare Planet Fairy.

Rare Plant Fairy specializes in growing and selling rare tropical plants that are difficult to find in nurseries or garden centers. He sells and grows more than 100 species of exotic tropical plants in a 2,000-square-foot, temperature- and humidity-controlled greenhouse in a warehouse.

“I am very famous for my variegated Monstera, especially my Monstera Thai. I am also known for my variegated philodendron trees and variegated banana trees,” she said.

She added: “My plants are not only green, but they have different types of colors, which makes them unique.” “Every plant looks different even if it has the same color.”

When Hu came up with the idea of ​​launching a plant business, she had no formal plant training or a guide on how to grow tropical plants. As of now, she is self-taught and cares for over 100 different plants within her nursery including tropicals, hoyas, monstera, and other rare and exotic tropical plants.

Each plant averages about $200 at her nursery, but some sell for up to $10,000. Expensive plants, such as the large variegated Philodendron pelletia, sell for $10,000, Ho said.

“I have another Philodendron pelletia available for $15,000,” she said. “There are also Philodendron Caramel and Philodendron Elsemani marbles that regularly go for $10,000.”

Plant prices are expensive because growing a single plant can take from three months to at least several years.

“It’s not a regular plant where you plant some seeds and it grows,” she explained. “I bought my own mother plants and propagated from them.”

Propagation is the process of reproducing plants from a single parent plant. There are a number of plant propagation techniques, including division, budding and grafting, but cutting is the most common.

For people who don’t have a green thumb, he believes a timer can help them become successful plant parents.

“People tend to love their plants to death,” she said. “They tend to water them too much and then the next week they forget about it. I think inconsistency is what people struggle with.” To keep your plants thriving, set timers to remind yourself to check your plants every few days or every week.

When she started her business in 2020, she was the only person in the area growing rare tropical plants. It is currently a supplier to other small plant growers and small shops across the country, supplying over 80 garden centers with its tropical plants.

“My business really supports other businesses, because we are the suppliers,” Ho said.

She said she is now being asked to ship her plants all over the world to places like Norway, France, Thailand and Dubai.

“The majority of plant collectors are women, but all the industry leaders are men,” she explained. “I feel compelled to be a good role model for women in business. I often receive emails and messages from women who want to build their businesses and tell me how I inspired them to do the same.

Rare Plant Fairy employee Lauren Bradley, 36, says she learned a lot after working at the plant nursery.

“I learned many different ways to care for plants, which gave me more confidence in my ability to care for plants in the nursery, as well as my own collection,” she said. “I’ve also learned that packing plants for shipping are no longer as stressful as they felt in the past, before I was hired by the Rare Plant Fairy Company.”

“We work hard as a team to keep the plants thriving, but I really enjoy working in the nursery and surrounding myself with the amazing team of people here,” Bradley added.

John Park, 28, of Westland is a frequent shopper at Rare Plant Fairy.

“Jocelyn provides high-quality plants that are reliable in terms of growth and color, and are ready to start thriving in my home on day one,” Park said. “She makes sure to prioritize customer satisfaction and success over making a quick buck. I also believe in supporting small businesses, especially those owned by women and minorities.

Ho’s goal is to become one of the best suppliers of tropical plants in the country and create a new industry for Detroit.

Visit the Rare Plant Fairy and other vendors from 2-6 p.m. on August 13 at Detroit’s Eastern Market.

Rare plants fairy

1111 Bellevue Street, Detroit

Visit RarePlantFairy.com

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