This will be a photo heavy post of my recent trip to Cultivate’22. It was my first time attending, and wow was it ever an experience. For those of you who don’t know, it is a trade show for the green industry, where vendors show their wares (plants, equipment and tools, fertilizers, etc.) and where there are educational seminars too. I heard several people say that attendance was 10,000 people. I can’t verify that, but it was certainly a lot. Let’s start off with some wood sculptures by LB Buchan that were at the Portland Airport (PDX).

A quote by the artist at the PDX website was particularly heartbreaking.

The purpose of my Animalia work is to draw attention to the rapid loss of biodiversity our planet faces today. Scientists report 150 – 200 species of plants, insects, birds, and mammals disappearing daily, which is 1,000 times greater than the natural extinction rate. Cetus acts as a representation of both past and present species, a statement of what remains, and a warning of irreplaceable loss.”

Believe me, I see it every day. Oregon just discovered the first case of emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), which feeds on and kills most of our native ash tree species (Fraxinus spp.). If it follows the trajectory that occurred out East and in the Midwest, we can expect most of our native ash species in Oregon to be wiped out in about 10 years. It’s sad to see so many examples of our native flora and fauna being destroyed because of our collective actions as human beings.

But, back to Cultivate’22. I found the entire experience interesting from a sociological perspective. We’re surging with covid cases here in Oregon (and elsewhere), yet only about 10% of the people at the airport were wearing masks (I am a counter). As people boarded the plane, mask wearing increased to about 20%. But, then once we got to Columbus, Ohio and the trade show, I would say that there were only 10 people total wearing a mask in that entire convention center. 10 people. Out of 10,000… Oh, and can I say that I just don’t understand why there are still people who wear their masks under their noses. Why are they doing this? Who are they fooling? It can’t be comfortable, right? At this point, either wear your mask correctly so that it completely covers your nose or mouth, or don’t wear one at all.

And, I have to say that the social power of conformity is real. Although I kept my KN95 mask on for the entire plane ride, I toyed with putting my mask on and taking it off repeatedly in the convention center. A big part of me didn’t want to get sick, but an even bigger part of me didn’t want to stand out as different. I am a little ashamed to say that the power of conformity won and the mask came off.

Enough social and environmental commentary though, on to the show! This was the first vendor to catch my eye, Holt Nurseries. I kept thinking to myself that a box of assorted plants would be way better than a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day (left and middle). On the right, a jewelry box laid out with ferns and succulents – I even spy a living, green pearl necklace.

Tri State Foliage does foliage right!

Variegated foliage of Schismatoglottis wallichii
Schismatoglottis wallichii
Pink variegated foliage of Piper crocatum
Piper crocatum
Fantastic yellow veins in Calathea Network
Calathea 'Network'
Close-up of Calathea Network leaf
Leaf detail
Variegated foliage of Apoballis acuminatissima Red Sword
Apoballis acuminatissima 'Red Sword'

I didn’t get the name of this nursery, but I liked all of their little plants.

These are what caught my eye here.

White veined foliage of Calathea 'Vittata'
Calathea 'Vittata'

Hands down, my absolute favorite display in the entire show was by Greenex. The first thing I saw was this display of Sansevieria. Cute.

But, then I saw this wall of gorgeously curated plants.

In particular, these little displays. I wish the light pucks had been on.

Would you be surprised if I told you that I use to play museum curator when I was a little boy? Long before I ever heard about cabinets of curiosity, I would be collecting various natgural objects such as snake skins, shells, rocks, dried plants, insects, etc, and then grouping them together on display. I still really like that sort of thing. It must be some sort of weird human predilection.

The next booth that I stopped at was Casa Flora.

As I rounded the corner, this grabbed my attention. What sort of plant has pink and silver leaves outlined in dark green? Was it real? Yes it was.

 The nice sales rep even pointed out the flower, which was an altogether different, contrasting chartreuse color.

Red, silver, and green leaves of Calathea roseopicta Rosy
Calathea roseopicta 'Rosy'
Chartreuse green flowers of Calathea roseopicta 'Rosy'

While I was …mmm… sort of gushing about this plant, the sales rep asked if I was staying in town until the last day. Apparently, most of the plants are for sale and attendees can buy them and take them home. Oh No! I wish I had known this! But then I remembered Loree over at the danger garden blog saying something to this effect about our own FarWest show back in Oregon. Why hadn’t I remembered that small detail? Oh well, it wasn’t like I was going to cram such a big plant in my suitcase and fly home with it. Not only that, but I really didn’t have the time to spend another two days at the show.

Then, suddenly, the rep popped out a plug of the same plant from the display in front, boop, and it was mine to take home! She even found a little plastic wrap to package it in. Sweet! Plant people are great. I thanked her profusely and continued on my journey happy to have something to remind me of my experience here when I got back home.

The display where my little Calathea roseopicta 'Rosy' came from

I love a good rex begonia.

Succulents Unlimited BV was next with a display of cuttings and small plants that reminded me of a vegetable market. Cuttings in one direction…

Peperomia in the other direction. I have a thing for peperomias…


African violet display by Optimara. Did you know that they bred some of these so that they don’t produce the little yellow anthers covered in pollen?

This made me a little sad because I actually like the little pop of yellow in the center of a deep, dark violet flower. I asked if it was because the pollen got all over everything (having never seen African violet pollen do such an atrocious thing), and the rep said no. It was because thrips (an insect) feed on the pollen, multiply, and then damage the entire plant. By removing the anthers, they create a plant that is less prone to thrips damage.

The main reason I had stopped at this booth was to ask about the development of this green flowered variety. I was told that it came from some seed sent into space in 1984, where it got irradiated by cosmic rays. Upon returning to Earth, Optimara germinated the seed and discovered some interesting mutations.

Later on at home, I was reading up about this further online and found out that this cultivar is probably ‘MySensation’, which was not part of the EverFloris seed group that was sent up into space. Oh well, it was still really cool to learn that we have sent ornamental plants into space.

Green flowered African violet grown from seed sent into space in 1984
MySensation African violet

Optimara also had two peperomias that I really wanted. No names though and I didn’t find more information in their catalogs online.

They had a really nice wall display made with pegboard that I might like to use, though it looks like watering would be impractical.

Next was Terra Nova, where I couldn’t stop looking at the leaves of this dracaena (Dracaena ‘Malachite’). Younger plants on the left and a more mature plant on the right. It’s interesting to see how the spotting changes as the plants get older.

I had sort of hoped this was a hardy variety of cast iron plant (Aspidistra) that I could find for my garden, but it wasn’t. Still a beautiful plant though.

This is also the nursery that developed the Acanthus ‘Whitewater’ that I’ve been having problems with. Turns out the sales rep had read my blog about the situation (here and here) and had some tips to help the plant perform at its best. As mentioned previously, the albino foliage in early spring is a known issue. The rep recommended cutting all of the white leaves off and then letting it regrow. She also mentioned that Whitewater is a heavy feeder and that they seem to do better in pots, where they can get a little more attention.

Based on her recommendations, I’m going to give it a try. I bought a rather large decorative outdoor container last year that has been sitting around while I have been trying to decide what to do with it. So, I’m going to dig up my Whitewater, pot it up with a generous dose of compost, place it in a semi-shaded location, and see what happens. I’ll let you know. The pictures online are spectacular.

I didn’t get the name of this next booth, but they had great foliage and great cacti.

I didn’t remember that Monrovia did tropicals. Very nice line-up of plants.

This booth by Aroid Greenhouses seemed to be the most popular in the entire show. It was crowded all three times that I passed by, and for good reason as there were lush, exquisite plants everywhere. Obviously, aroids are the “in” plants at the moment.

Display cabinets full of rare aroids. This is what L wants to put up at home to keep the cat from destroying his houseplants.

Everywhere I looked there was were beautiful leaves.

Pink and white veined leaf on Anthurium Michelle
Anthurium 'Michelle'
White speckled leaves of Dieffenbachia
Dieffenbachia cultivar
Cool veining pattern on Hoya callistophylla leaves
Hoya callistophylla

Dare I say that there was a little showing off here? And not in a bad way. There were two walls covered with variegated swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa). This is/was one of those exclusive plants that people paid ridiculous amounts for, upwards of thousands of dollars, and availability has been extremely limited. I don’t get it. Monstera deliciosa was one of my first favorite house plants, but I much prefer the plain green one. For some reason, I just don’t find the variegation on this species that pleasing, even though I normally love variegated plants. I think maybe it is because the variegation is asymmetrical and inconsistent. Obviously, this nursery has cracked the propagation code and has hundreds of plants for sale. One of these days I would love to try one of the fruits to see if they live up to the plant’s scientific name.

Variegated Monstera delicosa
Variegated Monstera deliciosa
Variegated Monstera deliciosa
Leaf close-up

Love this little Monstera peru.

Rugose leaves of Monstera peru
Monstera peru

As a kid, I always wanted one of these Cissus discolor vines, but I never did find one.

Silvery leaves with dark green-maroon veins on Cissus discolor
Cissus discolor

I was surprised to see that this was an Aglaonema, I thought it was some sort of weird Caladium at first glance. Not really my cup of tea, but what an unusual combination of colors for a leaf!

Red, white, and green leaves of Aglaonema 'Crosby's Christmas'
Aglaonema 'Crosby's Christmas'

Wrapping things up with wo more pictures for today’s post. First, a little planted desk organizer that I wanted to take home for my office.

And last, this hexagonal shelving system. Those of you who have seen my office at work know that I have installed a series of floating hexagon shelves on my office wall. I’ve been wanting to put some sort of shelving system underneath those that would be fairly thin, but wasn’t sure what to do. Something like this may work. Just look how happy it made the woman in the background to be in this space.

Ok, that’s it. Next time, we’ll take a look at some of the new plant introductions that were being shown at Cultivate’22.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. danger garden

    Thanks for the detailed tour! I’ve never been to Cultivate, good to know it’s a lot like Farwest. Glad you got your plant to take home without sticking around to the last day!

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      You’re welcome. Had a great time! Wishing I had asked for some others, but I have a feeling they would have been expensive.

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