MARYVILLE, Mo. — With around 10,000 plants already stocked in pots and two greenhouses teeming with greenery, a local couple is bringing back to life The Plant House, a local garden center and plant nursery located just north of Maryville on Business Highway 71.
Tim Janousek and Kelsey Bowlin purchased The Plant House from previous owners Winifred and Rego Jones in April 2018. While it’s taken them some time to organize the business — the pair did open briefly last fall for a mum sale — the business is officially opening on Friday, March 1.
“We’re going full time,” Bowlin said.
Janousek said he believes they’re prepared, but that there is still a lot of work left to be done.
The couple is doing business as Horizon Produce, which sold produce at the Lions Club Farmers Market last year, but The Plant House operation will keep its name.
“They (the Jones’) owned and operated this for more than 50 years as a family business,” Bowlin said. “They took over from Rego’s father in 1967.”
She said they plan to continue the tradition, adding their own quirks to the Jones’ legacy. Bowlin, a biology instructor at Northwest Missouri State University, has a special place in her heart for plants by way of her own father who was an agronomist. While on a trip to a family greenhouse in Iowa, she and Janousek began to wonder why they had to drive two hours to get to a family greenhouse.
“I don’t like the way that the box stores operate their plants,” Bowlin explained. “A lot of times what happens is that the growers only get paid when they have a point of sale so if they die of frost or not watering the growers are not compensated for that.”
She said she’s really enjoyed getting to know the plants and learning about them from the Joneses.
Bowlin has known Rego Jones for nearly 14 years, having him as her adviser her first year at the university.
Maryville resident Rego Jones is a Senior Instructor for the horticulture program at Northwest who also serves on the Lettuce Dream Board of Directors. The former owners still enjoy keeping their hands in the dirt.
“Fred and Rego are helping us,” Bowlin said. “They promised they wouldn’t let us fail. … We couldn’t have done it without them, when it came to selecting the plants, the amount of plants, pricing.”
Rego said they want the new owners to succeed, and just leaving them with it is the last thing they’d want to do, so they’ll “pop in from time to time. We said we’d be around, try to impart 50 years of experience to them.”
Winfred said they’re doing a great job and that the business is in “very capable hands.”
On Saturday, April 13, the new owners plan to hold an open house, where they’ll grill hot dogs and hamburgers.
“We welcome people to come out and have some lunch with us and check the place out,” Bowlin said.
The new owners are planning to have more than 1,000 mixed flower hanging basket containers, and around 50,000 to 60,000 plants.
“We’re going to try to pack the house and bring it back to what people remember it,” Janousek said. “We’ll have a huge variety of annuals. We’ll have mixed baskets, tons of tomato varieties, peppers.
The nursery will carry both heirloom and hybrid varieties.
“A lot of the heirloom varieties on tomatoes are starting to make a comeback,” he explained.
Columbines, lilies, hostas, grasses, but the biggest shipments will start coming in March, Bowlin said. The business also will offer geraniums and a large assortment of containers for planting as the season warms.
“What we have in right now is a good selection of our perennials,” Bowlin said. “Our succulents, our cold-weather vegetables are starting to come in. We have lettuce, broccoli, the cabbages and Brussels sprouts arriving this week.”
Bowlin said they will offer some of the old favorite plants including the sweet potato plant, which for some reason can be difficult to find in the region.
“Nobody around here sells sweet potato plants, not the decorative ones, but the ones you can actually eat,” she said. “So we’re getting those in.”
As part of the garden center, Bowlin said they will offer the standard bulk seed, with the addition of peaches and cream corn. The seed as well as a huge variety of succulents, potting soil, retail pots among other gardening tools and items will be available as soon as the center opens on Friday. Bowlin said they’ll even pot plants for people if they bring in pots that they already have.
“One of my favorite plants that we have in right now smells like buttered popcorn,” Bowlin said. “It is the craziest thing.”
The “Popcorn Cassia” plant has leaves that smell like popcorn when they’re rubbed or crushed. The plant has small yellow flowers that look somewhat like popcorn when in bloom. According to the Better Homes & Gardens website it is hardy in Growing Zones 9 through 11 but is grown as an annual elsewhere.
Nodaway County is a 5b plant hardiness zone, according to the United States Department of Agriculture website. This means the plant’s life cycle likely will last only one year and must be replanted each spring.
“It’s a nice potted plant for your deck,” said Winifred.
Right now Bowlin said they’re just hoping that the weather begins to cooperate because they’re running out of room and need to start moving things outside.
Janousek said he is definitely over the winter weather.
Two other greenhouses that will be used for even more plants when the weather warms, are currently blocked to keep out the cold.
Bowlin said she’s working through some mild anxiety about the large undertaking.
“It’s just one of those things you have to spend a lot of money up front,” she said. “It’s a business that relies heavily on the weather.”
Winifred stressed now that the cold weather and snow need to stay away so people can start planting.
Starting Friday, March 1, the business, located at 24579 Business Highway 71 in Maryville, will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. The new owners plan to be closed on most Sundays.
For more information visit the business’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/horizonproduce/ or call 660-562-0233.
Future lawn care expansion possibilities
In the near future, Janousek intends to start a small engine repair service for lawn mowers, weed whackers, snow blowers and more. He said what you see in the four main greenhouses is actually only a small portion of the whole facility. Janousek intends to turn a couple of the other buildings into a small shop.