Plants mean comfort for Marita and Michael Gabriel, who own and run Cultivar, a rare plant shop in Katy’s LaCenterra development.
During the pandemic, the Gabriels’ source of income—coffee shops—had to close. At the same time, Michael was going through chemotherapy. His doctor said it was good to have plants at home to clean the air, so the couple bought their first plant: a fiddle leaf fig.
“We just started buying more plants, and then all of a sudden our whole living room was filled up with plants,” Marita said.
Taking care of plants at home helped Marita keep her mind off business struggles and her husband’s health, she said.
The couple started shopping for plants every weekend. To afford nicer, more expensive plants, Marita learned how to propagate and sell them. Propagating is the process of cutting off a piece of a plant to create a new plant.
Marita sold her first plant cutting in 2020 and bought more. She began selling plants in local Facebook groups and then opened an Etsy shop, shipping plants from her home.
Eventually, Marita ran out of room at home, so they found space at LaCenterra. Cultivar opened its doors in October 2021, selling rare tropical plants as well as home decor and local art.
Many of the plants top $100, but the shop also sells plant cuttings, a more affordable option. Many have mutations that give them their unique appearance, and each variety descends from one original plant that mutated and has been propagated, so they cannot be mass-produced.
“I like these natural things that happen to plants that make them special, make them rare,” Marita said.
Marita said she learned most of what she knows about rare-plant care from the number of plant-focused Facebook groups she has joined as well as by getting her hands dirty and seeing what works.
In the future, Marita plans to offer free classes on how to repot and propagate a plant as well as create a YouTube channel to share videos on these topics.
“I think we’re going to be doing plants for a very long time,” she said.
23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd., Ste. B100, Katy
Hours: Mon.-Thu., Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
How to propagate
People can continue the line of special plants through propagation, the process of cutting off part of a plant to create another. Here is the process for Philodendron red emeralds.
Determine where to cut by identifying the plant’s nodes, or where the buds are on the stem.
Cut between the nodes.
Place the cutting in water or other propagating medium.
Let the cutting grow for 6-8 weeks, replacing the water frequently to avoid rot.
When roots reach 3 inches, pot the plant in soil.