But I still exercised caution, buying only 5 plants at the venerable Connecticut tropical plant nursery during a long-awaited pilgrimage last Saturday. I have been receiving catalogs from Logee’s for a few years, and knew it was located quite near where we regularly visit family.
This place does over 60% of their business via mail order; it is a nationally-known venue for tropical and exotic plants, regularly offering a dozen or more varieties of jasmine, gardenia, abutilon, passiflora, hoya, hibiscus, and epiphyllum, as well as oddities (to me) such as Strongylodon macrobotrys “Jade Vine,” Elaeocarpus grandiflorus “Lily of the Valley Tree,” and Aristolochia gigantea ‘Brasiliensis.’ There are also plenty of carnivorous plants and weird cacti.
For the winter indoor gardener bored by the usual selection at local big boxes, Logee’s is a godsend, but if you ever plan to actually visit in person, my advice is watch your step, both literally and financially. The facility is much older than I expected, and you can still see the original nineteenth-century furnishings in the little shop you enter before the retail greenhouses. After that, narrow walkways and unexpected stairways lead you through an indoor jungle.
The owners were not around on Boxing Day, but I talked to an experienced staffer, Tiffany, who showed me some of the older retail catalogs—which showcased the original specialties of pelargonium and begonias—and talked about how the business had evolved from its 1892 beginnings. Logee’s is in the process of building new, more energy-efficient propagation greenhouses, and is also striving to go entirely organic in its treatment of the insects and diseases that can be common problems with these kind of plants, keeping in mind that their consumers expect clean specimens.
I wondered how a place like Logee’s deals with what should be frequent instances of buyer’s remorse, as customers must regularly experience failure with some of the more difficult cultivars, and Tiffany stated that their on-call horticulturalists deal with these issues. She said the three main problems are over and under watering (most plants should dry down, then be thoroughly watered), overpotting (too-large pots lead to root rot), and—mainly—too much worrying and fussing over the plants. (“People need to relax!”) She also mentioned that a overwatering in a chilly room is as bad a the hot dry air of the average centrally-heated home.
The main thing with Logee’s is that their plants are small, and not cheap, averaging around $10 each for the 2” and $15-20 for the 4”. But I have high hopes for the jasmine ‘Ann Clements’, ponderosa lemon, osmanthus (sweet olive), and gardenia (a species type) I purchased, all of which came with detailed culture sheets. For a plant addict like me, the wide variety of such fragrant cultivars is what makes Logee’s worthwhile. For the casual visitor, it’s as good or better than a trip to a public glasshouse, and you’ll likely see a more wide-ranging variety of plants.