Jeffrey Waggoner of The People's Plants
First of all, thank you so much for reaching out to me. I’m really looking forward to reading about others in the industry. It’s so exciting to see so many peers jumping into it! As for me, I grew up on a farm in NE Oklahoma. Think cows, goats, and field crops, like corn and wheat. When I was a kid I played t-ball and was usually put in the outfield. Well, instead of playing baseball, I would pick clover and dandelion flowers (remember those first grade flower crowns?). Needless to say, my plant obsession started at a young age.
After high school I studied Horticultural Science at the University of Arkansas and had the opportunity to work in a tissue culture lab (we hybridized Gesneriads, for my fellow plant nerds) alongside a professor who opened my eyes to the diversity in tropical plants. Fast forward a few years and I’m living in Oklahoma City running my own little business, The People’s Plants!
Lastly, I really enjoy plants. As in, I plan my vacations around visiting nurseries I admire! Actually, one of my favorite vacations was a trip to Oahu, Hawaii where our days began at 8am so we could run around the island from nursery to nursery, to botanical garden to botanical garden. I’m not kidding when I say we visited every nursery possible, including the ones we randomly drove by! But my favorite was when I thought my boyfriend was going to kill me when I made him drive 30 minutes to a nursery and told him, “I’m just going to run around and have a quick look!” TWO HOURS later, I’m standing in this incredible greenhouse full of Tillandsia and Neoregelia bromeliad hybrids. It was pure bliss and a moment I will always treasure.
Where did the idea for The People’s Plants come from?
The People’s Plants was born out of the idea that plants should be accessible to everyone, The People. I’ve never had too much interest in having my own storefront, to be quite honest, so it naturally made sense for me to be an online shop. After all, more time in a shop would mean less time spent in the greenhouse with my plants!
Mother In-Laws Tongue
If your home doesn’t have a mother in-law’s tongue, what are you doing?! I even have two specimens in my home! I commonly refer to Sansevieria as closet plants. Throw them in for a few weeks and they’ll look the same when you open the door. They really are some of the best houseplants and they’re readily found in a wide range of leaf colors and patterns at nearly any nursery.
My second plant recommendation for everyone would be a Philodendron. Low light? No problem. Don’t like to water too often or maybe too much? No problem. There are always new and exciting Philodendron hybrids coming out, like ‘Prince of Orange’. New leaves are vibrant orange and mature to a dark hunter green.
For those who have a bit more light (maybe an eastern window), Watermelon Peperomia are a great choice. Lower light levels aren’t too much of an issue for this plant either and it can tolerate a bit of overwatering, making it not overly fussy for busy homeowners. If you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, it is easily propagated by leaf or stem cuttings!
Fourth suggestion would be some type of Anthurium. They can be a bit picky about drainage and light, so not exactly beginner plants. Leaves can be deeply lobed, like A. pedato-radiatum, or grown primarily for their gorgeous flowers. Just keep in mind that varieties grown for their flowers require fairly high light levels to produce those gorgeous blooms.
Finally, everyone needs a Bromeliad (or dozen)! Next to orchids, it’s the second largest family in the plant kingdom and certainly one of the most varied. Their foliage can be hot pink, solid orange, or the most beautiful hunter green. I’m not so secretly obsessed with Tillandsia, which are a type of bromeliad. Not only is there an enormous variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, they’re strikingly architectural. My favorite way to display them around the house is in varied clusters of 3, each having different foliage color and growth habit. A few seconds under the sink and a brief shake afterwards typically keeps these plants pretty happy.
But, my core belief has always been that there’s probably a plant better suited to your space. Don’t try to make a plant work in a space that it isn’t meant for. For example, don’t put a maidenhair fern in a southern window. It’s probably not going to thrive! You should always strive for plants to thrive in your space. Trust me, you don’t want to be dragging that maidenhair into the shower with you every day.
Photography by Kerri McMahon