Meet Leslie and Laurie in Houseplants

Laurie Kormesser (L) and Leslie Clark on the job

by Susan Harris
Leslie Clark has worked in Homestead’s Houseplants Department for two years now, and says her favorite part of the job is helping people succeed.   So she starts by asking customers about the conditions they have, how long they travel at a time, and how much work they’re able to do for their new plants, then recommends accordingly.   I say darn good thing, because most of us are pretty clueless about growing these tropical plants indoors.

The Easy-for-Beginners ZZ Plant

Asked about her personal favorite, Leslie  chooses what has to be the least flashy plant in the joint – the Zamioculas zamiifolia, or ZZ for short  (thank goodness).   Here’s a small one in her hands (they grow to 2 feet tall) and exhibiting its glossy leaves.  Why else does she love it?  It’s as low-maintenance as they come, being very drought-tolerant and resistant to pests, so people succeed at growing it.

Phalaenopsis or Moth Orchid

Laurie Kormesser came to Homestead’s Houseplants Department from her native Maine, by way of Miami (it’s complicated) and is happy to have seasonal color again, in not-too-cold Maryland.   Asked to pick a favorite in the department, she chose the Phalaenopsis Orchids, which bloom for her up to 5 months.  Considered the easiest to grow in our homes, it’ll bloom reliably from late winter into spring without much light at all.  But do pick up one of Laurie’s fact sheets about these guys because you need to water them when they need it, not on some set schedule (like weekly, no matter the time of year).  Watering mistakes are, after all, the primary cause of poor performance by houseplants, according to Laurie.  Mostly overwatering.

Asked what’s coming up for their department, the friendly duo mention a big foliage sale in mid-winter, and workshops about growing orchids.  Details about all that coming soon.

Orchid photo credits:  Pink by FlowerFreak; white by Philip Bouchard.

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