Q&A: Garden & Landscape Expo Presenter Nika Vaughan on ‘Fearless Plant Propagation’

February 8, 2021 Alyssa Beno Leave a Comment

PBS Wisconsin invites you to explore the simplicity and variety of houseplant propagation techniques during the free, virtual Garden & Landscape Expo, Feb. 20-21. Register today at wigardenexpo.com!

Nika Vaughan, owner of the Plant Salon in Chicago, will present “Fearless Plant Propagation” from 9-10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 20. Plant Salon is an indoor plant and natural skincare boutique featuring Vaughan’s personal collection of more than 200 plants and the many propagations she’s often working on. She posts updates of various propagations and projects on the boutique’s Instagram, @PlantSalonChicago.

PBS Wisconsin spoke to Vaughan about plant propagation and her upcoming presentation at Garden & Landscape Expo.

PBS Wisconsin: What are you most excited about for your presentation at Garden & Landscape Expo?

Vaughan: From having a plant shop and having so many new plant parents in the past year, it really was enlightening to see people who were excited to own plants and yet very intimidated by touching and getting their hands in their plants. You meet people who have had plants for a couple years and you talk about, okay, you need to repot this and they just look at you like, “What?’” You can just do it right now. You don’t have to wait. It’s not super seasonal. It’s a great way to experiment too, just to figure out if you have more than one pepperomia, you put one in this kind of light and one in that kind of light. To me it’s much more about experimentation.

PBS Wisconsin: What is plant propagation?

Vaughan: It’s the different techniques one uses to create a new plant from the previous stock. Seed is one way of propagating plants. You get seeds from mother plants, you germinate the seeds, get seedlings and you have propagated little baby plants. Other ways of doing that are plant division, which is great when you have a really overgrown plant. And then water propagation is the best if you are more of a low-key, chill plant person. If you’re kind of like, “I just like to check in, I think they look pretty,” and you really do enjoy the visuals of watching a plant develop because you can snip a vine, put it in water, watch it grow roots and in about two weeks you usually are getting started.

PBS Wisconsin: How did you settle on that topic?

Vaughan: I think all the different ways of propagating have a different comfort level. Some feel more advanced than others, some feel more accessible, so it’s easy to say this is the fearless part. What feels approachable? Let’s start there, and once you build more confidence, suddenly something like, “I’m going to use a moss propagation and root this $200 cutting in moss in a little terrarium,” feels much more approachable after you’ve gotten dozens and dozens of other propagations going.

PBS Wisconsin: What’s your motto on houseplant care?

Vaughan: Plants are not waiting for us. They’re doing their own thing.

PBS Wisconsin: As a plant shop owner, how have you seen COVID-19 impact people’s relationship with houseplants?

Vaughan: [At my shop], people would literally walk around in a circle and stop and stare at the collection and stop and stare at the little succulents for sale. They really needed to be comforted, and I think there’s that quality of being in nature that is nurturing and comforting. We have an apothecary section so when someone comes in, it’s like, “What do you need? Do you just need a new little someone to take care of? Do you need candles? Do you need to deck out your indoor jungle vibe?” We try to cover that space of rejuvenating, comforting and nurturing someone.

PBS Wisconsin: What do you hope viewers take away from your presentation?

Vaughan: I hope they take out some scissors and they look at their leggy plants. Especially when you see a plant in your home and you’re kind of like, “She’s fine. I’ve had it for a while, but I know there’s potential for growth or change with this plant, and I maybe need to do some action to get that going.” I hope someone feels a little more confident to get the scissors out, to get the shovel out, and to get their hands inside those roots.

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