Even if you’re a novice plant parent, you can probably recognize a snake plant or a palm without a second glance. But what about those more uncommon or rarer varieties?
“The biggest things that I get asked are like, ‘I want something funky,’ or ‘I want something that I’ve never seen before,’” says Reba Hamilton, owner of Virgil’s Plant Shop.
Hamilton started Virgil’s—named for her trusty border collie-boxer mix—last year as a mobile shop out of a renovated school bus that she bought from a depot in Belton. She spent a year selling houseplants out of the bus on First Fridays and parked in front of local businesses to relearn her hometown of Kansas City after spending ten years living on both coasts. As of June, Virgil’s officially has its own storefront at 27th Street and Troost.
From patterned leaves to structural blooms, here are a few offbeat houseplants Hamilton recommends for those looking to spunk up their urban jungle.
The funky leaves on calathea are a standout in any space, but Hamilton warns that this houseplant is a little trickier to take care of and might not be for beginners.
“Variegated monstera is very hot,” Hamilton says. “You can sell cuttings for like $200, which is crazy.”
“I really love having a selection of hoyas at the shop if I can,” Hamilton says. Grown in ideal conditions, these plants sprout eyecatching star-shaped cluster blooms.
Bromeliads bring a wild pop of color, and Hamilton recommends two varieties: guzmania and vriesea. She says vriesea has “a spear-shaped bloom that shoots up in different colors.”
Bird Of Paradise
“These are really great, but they’re a little trickier to get to bloom,” Hamilton says. It takes about five to eight years for these plants to reach maturity with the right nutrients, so fertilizer is key.