Exotic Angel Is Where Houseplants Are Born

Exotic Angel Is Where Houseplants Are Born

A tour of the Exotic Angel production facility reveals the care and passion of growing houseplants. 
Earth Star (Cryptanthus) at Exotic Angel PlantsLast spring I visited the place where Exotic Angel® Plants are born: Costa Farms' Exotic Angel growing facilities in Apopka, Florida. (That’s me in a jungle of hanging plants, above, taking my 1,000th photo. And, at left, that's a galaxy of earth stars growing bigger and better every day.)

As a plant lover since the age of 8, seeing this facility was like the plant version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. From mother plants to cuttings to fully grown plants awaiting shipment to stores, the tour revealed the process, the passion, and the expertise of growing plants -- by people who love plants, for people who love plants. Here are my takeaways:

Family-business passion.

When the Costa Farms family business purchased the Hermann Englemann family business, there was a seamless transition. Because the two companies had the same business goal: to grow the best quality plants for all of us passionate plant lovers. The superior plant genetics and time-tested production methods developed by Hermann Englemann was transferred to the capable hands of the Costa Farms family. Now there’s nearly a half century of growing and plant production methodology in action with every plant grown.

Successful plants start with superior genetics.

If you want the electric chartreuse color in your ‘Neon’ pothos to be bright and exciting, you need to start with bright and exciting genetics. All the mother plants for Exotic Angel® Plants are grown at the facility. Exotic Angel production members are control freaks (in a good way). By growing their own plants, they control all their genetics. That means their plants are disease free and genetically squeaky clean. No surprises. That’s why plants are so pretty and so robust and healthy.

Golden MossViva la selection!

The company breeds and grows more than 200 varieties of houseplants. And they add to the collection each year. Walking through the greenhouses, it’s exciting to see so many different types of plants. I haven’t been so inspired since I was hiking in Costa Rica! And I saw species that I’d never seen in person before. (I’m talking about you, adorable teddy bear vine.)

Great soil grows great plants. 

I always think of chocolate cake mix when I work with potting soil. And that’s what I thought of when I saw the giant bales of potting soil mixes being distributed into pots. The soil room smelled great too -- clean and fresh the way new soil smells. Great potting soil is the key to healthy container plants. And just like with baking, if you start with a great recipe, you’re going to bake a great cake. The soil is a custom mix of Canadian sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite, and nutrients, so plants grown in the medium have everything they need to develop strong roots, stems, and leaves.

There is a wisdom to watering.

Growing plant cuttings into beautiful plants takes the right amount of moisture -- at the right time in the plants’ growth. Cuttings like moist soil, so pots get constant showers, helping to grow strong root systems. But when the plants are larger, the pots are watered at the soil level, so the leaves don’t have water marks or become prone to disease. Strategic watering at each step helps plants grow successfully.

Low-light growing conditions means better acclimation to your home.

The first thing you notice inside the Exotic Angel greenhouses is how shaded it is. (When you walk into an all-glass building, you expect it to be bright.) But Exotic Angel paints the glass roofs an opaque white to create lower light levels. Although the plants inside grow more slowly in low light, they are used to the same light inside homes and offices. Low-light growth is extra insurance that Exotic Angel® Plants will excel in home environments.

Teddy Bear vine - Cyanotis kewensisMore cuttings per pot make bigger plants.

Now I know why Exotic Angel® Plants are so lush and full -- there are more cuttings per pot. Look at this crowd of cuttings at left! No wonder these cuttings grow into full pots of foliage. There’s strength in numbers!

Written by Karen Weir-Jimerson