Spring Plant Fair showcases horticulture on campus


Lillie Salas

The Spring Plant Fair boasted thousands of plants, all being sold within the Plant Science Laboratory.

By Lillie Salas, Features Editor

As temperatures increase outside, pollen floats around in the air and the sounds of lawnmowers buzz — the spring season is on its way. The UIUC Horticulture Club hosted its annual Spring Plant Fair Sunday at the Plant Science Laboratory to educate and engage with the community. 

Horticulture is the science of growing and managing plants, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.

The Spring Plant Fair included a plant sale, a houseplant contest and multiple workshops about various topics regarding plant care and education.

Andrea Faber Taylor, Horticulture Club adviser, said the large turnout made her deem the event successful.

“Way more traffic than we expected,” Faber Taylor said. “It was so crowded earlier, and we sold a lot of material fast. Which is great, because we didn’t want to be stuck with it. I am seeing a lot of parents with their students, which is exciting to see. I think it’s been a big destination for families who are visiting their child today.”

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The RSO has been growing the plants from cuttings and seeds for months by renting out space from the University’s plant care facilities on campus. 

The plant sale consisted largely of annual plants. Annual plants will not continue to sprout yearly and will complete their life cycle once the season is over, according to Texas A&M University.

There were also a selection of veggies, bedding plants, succulents and a select group of carnivorous plants.

The RSO has grown over 1,600 plants, according to Horticulture Club officials. The tables lining the hallways of the laboratory were nearly empty by 2 p.m.

Joe Ku, president and head grower of the Horticulture Club, said his worries about selling all of the plants subsided as the event went on. 

“I was honestly worried that we would have no one at the start, but (the event) is really crowded,” Ku said. “It’s great to talk to people who love plants. I had plants in the greenhouse where I said, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t put these out,’ but we put them out and they’re gone.”

Taylor said the students were given valuable opportunities to learn more about plant care and the business side of selling plants through planning the event. 

Ku said he spread his efforts across all areas of organizing the event.

“There are a lot of business sides and financial stuff because of course we have to make a profit,” Ku said. “The point is so we can use (the sale) to fund next year’s activities and have discounted plants to our members. The managerial side of planning this was honestly kind of a headache, but it was a good experience I would say.”

Ku also said it was a good learning experience for volunteers to gain more knowledge in growing plants, managing events and customer service. 

Ku is planning to make the Spring Plant Flair an yearly event and has ideas to enhance the experience even more.

He said he would like to see more variation with plants the RSO sells, such as houseplants. He also would like for other plant and environmental RSOs to be involved in the fair. 

Aside from the plant sale activity, the event hosted workshops to educate attendees about plants. All workshops were free to the public, with added costs of $5-10 if individuals wanted to purchase seed and growing kits.

Workshops available were Carnivorous Plants, Grow Your Own Food, Orchids and Native Plants, according to the Horticulture Club website. 

A strategic aspect of planning the fair was making it happen during the University’s official Moms Weekend. 

Genevieve Cano, attendee and mother of a student on campus, said the fair was a great addition to the weekend.

“I’m a gardener, so it was exciting to come and visit this famous university because my son goes here,” Cano said. “I always wanted to do plant biology or botany, but never got the chance. Now that I’m older and a mom I can come back and enjoy the latest research and I’m impressed with the prices of the plants.” 

Cano was helped by workers at the event to learn more about the veggies on sale and was inspired by volunteers to try to grow veggies she did not have extensive knowledge about.

Down the hall from the tables of vegetable plants and succulents on sale, there was a laboratory filled with annual flowers and a showcase of houseplants cultivated by club members. 

Attendees could participate in the showcase by voting on which plant they deemed as their favorite. Taylor said the club chose which plants were the most novel or unique to showcase to the public.

Examples of the plants on display were a 25-year-old houseplant, a moss ball and a carnivorous plant, among others.

The RSO’s officials said the group is composed of students from all over campus with differing majors. The group is planning next semester’s events and participating in an upcoming plant swap.

The plant swap will be an opportunity for plant owners to bring their own and trade their plant for others. 

More information for upcoming events by the Horticulture Club can be found on their website, Hortclubuiuc.wixsite.com

“Turnout was great,” Ku said. “I hope we are able to make this better and better every year. Hopefully this is going to be a new Horticulture Club thing.”

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