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Growing Up: A Q&A with Mike Schaffitzel

Schaffitzel’s Flowers has been a family business since 1949. Now, Mike Schaffitzel is expanding the shop after a year when demand for vegetable plants, flowers and houseplants spiked. We talked with Mike to learn which plants are in hot demand.

By Ettie Berneking

Jan 2021

Mike Schaffitzel
Photo by Leah StiefermannMike Schaffitzel talks about his plans for expanding Schaffitzel’s Flowers. Purchase Photo

417 Magazine: How did this family business first get started?
Mike Schaffitzel: My grandparents started it in ’49. Grandpa and Grandma both worked at a greenhouse; that’s where they met. They started over on north Glenstone.

417: What drew you to gardening?
M.S.: We always had a big garden growing up. Now, I grow a garden just to see what you can do. I grow eggplants and cauliflower and tomatoes and broccoli just to see how they produce. You can talk about the bugs and diseases that people run into. It’s the same deal with houseplants; it’s fun to see what does good.

417: Why do you think you guys saw such a big boost in business this year?
M.S.: People were worried about food supplies, so people were more into gardens and bought a lot more seeds. But there’s also the fact that people are at home, so they wanted to make their homes look better.

417: Has demand for houseplants gone up since you were a boy working in the greenhouse?
M.S.: The houseplant craze has been growing for several years, but this year really got a boost. When people aren’t out doing what they’re used to doing, they need to be nurturing something, and houseplants are an easy one.

417: What is your favorite variety of houseplants these days?
M.S.: Most of these plants have been around forever, but I never realized some of these like the sansevieria, how many kinds there were.

417: What is the most popular plant these days?
M.S.: Variegated monstera seems to be the plant everyone is dying for. It’s because it’s variegated. Green seems same old same old, but variegated is desirable.

417: These can be pricey! What’s the most you’ve paid for a monstera?
M.S.: I bought a few, and we’re propagating them now. I paid $250–350 per plant, and it was just a cutting. I bought one recently, and I had to send another $15 just to ship it with the leaf on it. When you see them grown up with size to them, they are spectacular.

417: Do you credit this boom in houseplants for the store’s need to expand?
M.S.: Yes, but mostly we needed more parking. All spring, we had people parking at the cashew chicken place nearby. We’re going to put plants and pottery in the new space, but we don’t know 100% how we’re going to use it. My wife has always wanted to do classes, so maybe we’ll set that up, and I like to cook so maybe we’ll have cinnamon rolls once a week.

417: For people who are new to houseplants, what questions should they ask?
M.S.: Ask which plants are the easiest to grow. If you buy the hardest thing there is, you’re going to be burned out real fast on the plant world. Then there’s the one thing that always confuses people—watering. Here’s what I do; I water them until the water runs out the bottom and then let it dry all the way out.

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