This story was first published in KCUR’s Creative Adventure newsletter. You can sign up to get stories like this delivered to your inbox every Tuesday.
The winter solstice has passed, but daylight still seems fleeting in Kansas City. One way to combat those pesky winter blues is to care for a living thing – a growing green plant, for example.
From the ever-popular spotted begonias to the pothos – not to be confused with the philodendron, which has a different leaf shape – it seems more and more people are looking for the perfect plant companion. Is this a sign of the times? A little, maybe.
But the more positive outlook is that humans and plants were always meant to thrive together, which is good news given that time outdoors has become limited due to falling temperatures.
Whatever your reason for digging in the dirt, this guide highlights a sampling of Kansas City’s terrific greenhouses, fresh flower vendors, and pop-up shops.
Virgil’s Plant Shop
Little known fact: Virgil’s Plant Shop is named after owner Reba Hamilton’s puppy, whose picture hangs in her shop in Kansas City’s Longfellow neighborhood.
Virgil’s is approaching its third birthday, but some of that time has been spent in a green school bus appearing at markets and events around town. Although Hamilton now has her own brick-and-mortar, she says the bus is a must. You’ll see it parked out front as you pass.
Inside, a neon sign hangs above the large wicker chair for taking selfies. Rows of sparkling plants and pots line the walls and floor. The wallpaper is very aesthetic. But Virgil’s is more than just aesthetics – the staff take great pride in their involvement in the community. Hamilton says she plans to host a handful of pop-ups and block parties in the spring.
In addition, the shop frequently organizes vegetable drops on Instagram, where potential plant parents can scroll through photos to claim the Monstera deliciosa of their dreams. Virgil’s will even hand-deliver the greenery or include personalized notes on the items offered.
Paradise garden club
Speaking of aesthetics – if you’re looking for a cactus, succulent or tropical houseplant, look no further than Paradise garden club.
Even the merchandise is satisfyingly appealing, and there’s nothing quite like walking from the city to a desert-like setting. Hanging above the indoor cactus garden is a giant sun-like lamp that dispels all forms of seasonal depression.
Paradise has it all: stylish t-shirts and mugs, terracotta pottery, hand-mixed earth bags, birds of paradise, giant aloe vera, ric-rac cacti and all rare kinds of alocas. With so many plants to choose from, half the fun is making your way through the shop. There’s even a propagation station full of baby plants on the stairs.
The shop also offers weekly Plant 101 classes, which cost $40 and are available in Spanish. This course teaches you basic skills in plant care and propagation techniques. You can catch the next one on February 18. There is also a second level class at $45, Planting 102which goes beyond the basics to teach you all about “the wonderful world of mammillaria cacti”.
Another event you might be interested in is the Valentine’s Day course, where for $45 you can build your own luscious bowl. All materials are provided and you will leave with new knowledge about plants.
Small KC greenhouse
No matter what you hope to find there, the West Bottoms is an adventure in its own right. Kansas City’s historic industrial area, which flooded once in 1903 and again in 1951, is home to an abundance of rare gems, including Small KC greenhouse.
The greenhouse is co-owned by dynamic duo Austin Mosier and Tristan Carlson, who opened in the Bottoms in June 2021. Prior to that, they operated from the original small greenhouse in Hyde Park.
Collaboration and fairness are the driving forces behind KC Tiny Greenhouse, evidenced by Mosier and Carlson’s dedication to displaying the work of approximately 30 artists in the shop. Not only will you walk away with a special variety of variegated hoya, but you’ll also know you’re giving back locally.
Follow the small KC greenhouse PageInstagram for information on pop-ups, new plants in stock and more.
Verdant & Friendly Production
Go in Verdant it’s like being enveloped in a cozy vegetal embrace.
Imagine Mother Nature parting the clouds and beaming with sunbeams on Crossroads, where the Botanical Gift Shop is located. OKAY. It may be a lot. But the one thing that overshadows Verdant’s vibe is the staff’s level of dedication to craftsmanship.
Verdant is the brainchild of Chentell Shannon, owner and designer of a ceramic manufacturer User-friendly manufacturing. As Convivial’s premier outlet, Verdant is dedicated to helping customers find the perfect gift or pair a plant with one of Convivial’s stunning ceramic vases. It should also be noted that Convivial offers private tours from its factory space in the West Bottoms, where you can see the entire process from start to finish.
Verdant has a collection of vibrant prayer plants and bird’s nest ferns for sale, but customers have options.
Other offerings include refillable soy candles in craft containers, greeting cards and puzzles, vases and seed packets. You can create a custom bouquet of dried flowers or choose from the fresh, sculptural arrangements kept in a cooler. Assistant manager Melissa Mulford designs them and says people can also bring back their ceramic pieces to fill them with more flowers at a reduced price.
Mulford says she feels lucky to be part of a close-knit group of artists, makers and farmers in Kansas City.
Verdant partners with woolly bee farma family business based in Wamego, Kansas, and Prairie Birthday Farm, of Kearney, Missouri. Both farms hope to educate the public about sustainable farming practices.
“We were lucky to have these relationships with local farmers,” says Mulford.
Buy local KCs and KC rOOTS
Few know Kansas City’s creative community quite like Katie Mabry van Dieren. She holds Shop local KCa gift and flower shop that complements a craft fair you may have heard of: The Strawberry Swingwhich was also designed by van Dieren.
Located in Midtown, Shop Local is home to hand-painted jewelry, candles, artwork and linocuts, as well as clothing from a diverse group of local artisans. The in-store and online selections are constantly changing, and the retail space — instantly recognizable by its vibrant blue and green exterior mural — is welcoming and friendly. It is a space designed by artists, for artists.
In addition, van Dieren makes it a point of honor to compose his own bouquets of fresh flowers, available for purchase or delivery in store. Locals can also order dried flower stems to pick and arrange themselves or place an order online for a dry bouquet.
In addition to bringing handmade items to the public, Shop Local works with plant stores such as KC ROOTS to organize pop-up sales like the one recently held on January 22.
Created by the Oots family, rOOTS KC is known for its well-appointed booth space on the third floor of Beautiful Patina. While First Friday weekends are in full swing in the West Bottoms, locals can access an array of porcelain ceramics, fertilizers and a rotating stock of tropical plants.
Can not find what you are looking for ? rOOTS will even order a particular plant for you. Discover the store on instagram to learn more about upcoming giveaways and pop-ups.
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