How We Grow in South Florida

Ever wonder what it’s like at Costa Farms in Miami? You might imagine rows and rows of greenhouses brimming with houseplants. Here’s a peek behind the curtain of how we grow!

Starting Strong

We use various forms of propagation for our houseplants, based on what our growers find give us the strongest, healthiest results. A few houseplants are grown from seeds. And a few are grown from tissue-culture (which we get from leading tissue culture laboratories around the world). But most are started from cuttings. These cuttings are harvested from our Mother Plants (which we grow on our farm in the Dominican Republic). We ship the cuttings here to Miami, where they're planted. And then the cuttings get a few months to root in and grow before they’re ready to find their forever home with you.

With more than six decades of experience growing plants and thorough testing by our Research and Development team of new varieties, we have a "recipe" for every plant. This recipe allows us, when we plant it, to predict how many months (or years in the case of plants like Majesty Palm or Norfolk Island Pine) it will take before it's be ready for you. This recipe includes time for rooting to make sure cuttings have well established roots, as well as shoot growth.

Fun Fact: Crop timing varies by time of year. In the spring and summer months, a lot of our plants grow faster than they do in winter, so our recipes for growth include seasonal adjustments. 

Under the Florida Sun

Because of South Florida’s climate, we don’t need greenhouses. Rather, we grow most of our houseplants in Miami under shade houses. We have different types of shade. There's denser shade for plants like Calatheas that need more protection from the sun and lighter shade for plants like Dracaenas that prefer it a bit brighter.

Because the summer sun is more intense than it is in winter, we sometimes have to grow our plants in different areas at various times of the year so tender varieties get denser shade in summer than they do in winter. 

Growing outdoors like this means our growers keep a close eye on the crops to keep them healthy after a period of heavy rains or when there are sudden temperature changes. We have a full team of Growers and Assistant Growers, Crop Scouts (who watch for pests and problems), IPM Managers (who select the best way to prevent and control pests/diseases), Irrigators (who oversee that the plants get as much water as they need), Consolidators (who space plants as they grow so they're not too crowded), and other plant-loving professionals who help keep the plants growing their best. 

Fun Fact: Because we don’t use greenhouses here in South Florida, we use less energy to grow our houseplants than other operations. (We do grow some of our annuals and perennials in greenhouses at some of our other farms farther north). 

Growing Plants and People

Since we grow outdoors, both our plants and our team experience Florida’s summer temperature. But we have a robust policy to keep them safe in the heat.

Our team gets scheduled breaks based on temperature (the warmer the temperature, the more frequent the breaks). In addition to these breaks, our team is empowered to take a break whenever they feel they need it. Cold water is provided at every work location, and any team member can get to a shaded or air-conditioned location in 5 minutes or less. (Since we grow a lot our plants under shade, a lot of the team works in shaded spots!)

When hot weather is forecast, managers are empowered to be able to change work hours, so the team isn’t working during the heat of the day.

We also have a robust safety training program to ensure our team recognizes the symptoms of heat stress in themselves and their colleagues and can take a rest/water/shade break before they begin to feel overheated.

Written by Justin Hancock