Working with the plants: Greenhouse prepares for fall plant sale


Charlotte Wray

Housing over 900 species of plants, Appalachian State’s Biology Greenhouse has spent over a year growing some of the plants that will be at the semi-annual plant sale Aug. 27 through 29.

“Here, the whole building is my responsibility,” greenhouse manager Jerry Meyer said. “My love, of course, is actually working with plants.”

The greenhouse is full of plants that span from eight feet to less than an inch tall. Plants hang from branches and the carnivorous plants sit in pots near an archway with vines weaving through it.

“I spend half of my time actually caring and maintaining our collection of plants and while I’m doing that, I teach volunteers,” Meyer said. “Which is my favorite thing, probably, student volunteers.”

Rebecca Waller, a 2014 Appalachian sustainable development major and biology minor alumnus, said she began volunteering at the greenhouse in the fall of 2013 after taking a botany class and having a lab at the greenhouse.

“Every winter it would just be too cold in Boone but I would actually be able to walk into the greenhouse and have a tropical rainforest where I could wear a tee-shirt and my chacos and just feel at home,” Waller said. “That was always a saving grace for me in Boone winter.”

Meyer said the Greenhouse serves two main purposes — plant propagation, the creation of new plants from a mother plant, and education.

“It is always interesting getting to learn about plants and how they grow and learning the different temperaments of different plants,” Waller said.

Meyer said many classes visit the Greenhouse; some for botany, ecology and plant physiology labs and others for introductory art classes that come to draw the plants.

“I’m here as a community resource,” Meyer said. “It’s a conservatory. A formal house of plants with 900 species of plants from all countries around the world, except for Greenland and the Polar Ice Caps. All comers are welcome.”

Meyer buys many plants from an online nursery, and once in his care, he maintains and facilitates their growth.

“We grow all of our plants here,” Meyer said. “Virtually every single one of them has been propagated by a student volunteer.”

Meyer said the volunteers at the Greenhouse are already working to propagate plants for the plant sale in September 2016.

Meyer said indoor, or tropical plants will be sold at the plant sale starting at $1 and one of the most popular plants are the succulents. They will be selling over 1,500 plants.

“The main reason for the sale is to help me fund increasing maintenance costs,” Meyer said.

Story by Charlotte Wray, Intern News Reporter