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The winter solstice has come and gone, but daylight still feels fleeting in Kansas City. One way to combat those pesky wintertime blues is to care for a living thing — a green, growing plant, for instance.
From polka dot begonias to the always-popular pothos — not to be confused with the philodendron, which has a different leaf shape — it seems more folks are on the hunt for the perfect plant companion. Is this a sign of the times? A bit, perhaps.
But the brighter perspective is that humans and plants were always meant to thrive together, which is good news considering time outside has become limited due to dropping temps.
Whatever your reason for digging around in the dirt, this guide highlights a sampling of terrific Kansas City greenhouses, fresh flower purveyors and pop-up shops.
Virgil’s Plant Shop
Little known fact: Virgil’s Plant Shop is named after owner Reba Hamilton’s pup, whose photo hangs inside her shop in Kansas City’s Longfellow neighborhood.
Virgil’s is coming up on its three-year anniversary, but some of that time was spent in a green school bus popping up at markets and events around town. Even though Hamilton has her own brick-and-mortar now, she says the bus is a staple. You’ll see it parked out front when you swing through.
Inside, a neon sign hangs above the large, wicker selfie-taking chair. Rows of gleaming plants and pots line the walls and floor. The wallpaper is extremely aesthetically pleasing. But Virgil’s is more than just aesthetics — the staff takes great pride in community involvement. Hamilton says she plans to host a handful of pop-ups and block parties come springtime.
Additionally, the shop curates frequent Plant 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 gifted items.
Paradise Garden Club
Speaking of aesthetics — if it’s a cactus, succulent, or tropical house plant you’re after, look no further than Paradise Garden Club.
Even the merch is satisfyingly attractive, and there’s nothing like walking in from the city to a setting that looks like the desert. Hanging above the interior cactus garden is a giant, sun-like lamp that works to dissipate any and all forms of seasonal depression.
Paradise has it all: Stylish t-shirts and mugs, terra cotta pottery, bags of hand-mixed soil, birds of paradise, giant aloe vera, ric-rac cacti and all sorts of rare alocasia. With so many plants to choose from, half the fun is picking your way through the shop. There’s even a propagation station full of baby plants up the stairs.
The shop also offers weekly Planting 101 classes, which cost $40 and are available in Spanish. This class teaches you the skills of basic plant care and propagation techniques. You can catch the next one on Feb. 18. There’s also a $45 second-tier class, Planting 102, that goes beyond the basics to teach you all about “the wonderful world of mammillaria cacti.”
Another event you might find interesting is the Valentine’s Day class, where for $45, you can build your own succulent bowl. All materials are provided, and you’ll leave feeling wealthy in newfound plant knowledge.
KC Tiny 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 KC Tiny Greenhouse.
The greenhouse is co-owned by dynamic duo Austin Mosier and Tristan Carlson, who opened in the Bottoms in June of 2021. Before that, they’d operated out of the original tiny greenhouse in Hyde Park.
Collaboration and fair-mindedness are the driving forces behind KC Tiny Greenhouse, made apparent by Mosier and Carlson’s dedication to displaying work from 30 or so artists in the shop. Not only will you come away with some special variety of variegated hoya, but you’ll also know you’re giving back at the local level.
Follow the KC Tiny Greenhouse Instagram page for information on pop-ups, new plants in stock and more.
Verdant & Convivial Production
Stepping into Verdant is like being enveloped in a cozy plant hug.
Imagine Mother Nature parting the clouds and radiating sunbeams down over Crossroads, where the botanical gift shop is located. OK. Maybe that’s a lot. But the only thing overshadowing Verdant’s vibe is the staff’s level of dedication to craft.
Verdant is the brainchild of Chentell Shannon, owner and designer of ceramics manufacturer Convivial Production. As Convivial’s first retail location, Verdant is meant to help customers find the perfect gift or match a plant to one of Convivial’s stunning ceramic vases. It should be noted, too, that Convivial offers private tours of its factory space in the West Bottoms, where you can see the whole process from start to finish.
Verdant has a collection of prayer plants and vibrant bird’s nest ferns for sale, but customers have options.
Other offerings include refillable soy candles in handcrafted vessels, greeting cards and puzzles, vases and seed packets. You can create a personalized bouquet of dried flowers or pick from the fresh, sculptural arrangements kept in a cooler. Assistant manager Melissa Mulford designs these and says folks can also bring back their ceramic pieces to fill with more flowers at a discounted price.
Mulford says she feels fortunate to be included among a close-knit group of Kansas City artists, makers and farmers.
Verdant partners with Woolly Bee Farm, a family-owned operation out of Wamego, Kansas, and Prairie Birthday Farm, of Kearney, Missouri. Both farms hope to educate the public on sustainable farming practices.
“We’ve been blessed to have these relationships with local farmers,” Mulford says.
Shop Local KC and rOOTS KC
Few people know the Kansas City maker community quite like Katie Mabry van Dieren does. She owns Shop Local KC, a retail gift and flower shop that functions as the addition to a craft fair you may have heard of: The Strawberry Swing, which was also conceived by van Dieren.
Located in Midtown, Shop Local houses hand-painted jewelry, candles, artwork and linocut prints, as well as apparel from a diverse bunch of local artisans. The in-store and online selections are always changing, and the retail space — instantly recognizable by its splashy blue and green exterior mural — is welcoming and friendly. It’s a space designed by artists, for artists.
What’s more, van Dieren makes a point of arranging her own bouquets of fresh flowers, available for in-store purchase or delivery. Locals can also order dried flower stems to pick up and arrange themselves or place an order for a dry bouquet online.
In addition to bringing handmade items to the public, Shop Local works with plant shops such as rOOTS KC to organize pop-up sales such as the one recently held on Jan. 22.
Created by the Oots family, rOOTS KC is known for its well-appointed booth space on the third floor of Bella Patina. As long as 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’t find what you’re looking for? rOOTS will even order a particular plant for you. Check out the shop on Instagram for more on upcoming giveaways and pop-ups.
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