Posted By: Dani Ruais
“You’re going to love plants by the end of this…”
Very few people know about the Interior Plant Care Program that Agricultural and Environmental Plant Sciences lecturer Joe Haslett spear-headed on Cal Poly’s campus. He started the program summer 2011, and in just under a year, the Horticulture and Crop Science department is present in every sit-down restaurant on campus, making its way over to the new Rec Center and hopefully into the University Union by the end of summer 2012. The idea behind this project was not just to beautify the campus core (which, as horticulture students, we just have a knack for beautifying spaces), but to teach the Interior Plant Care students the ins and outs of how the interior plant care industry works. Students participate in all aspects of the process from designing and planning, to choosing and growing the plants, to installing the plants in their new spaces, as well as taking care of the regular watering and maintenance of the plants. Most of the plants used in the restaurants on campus are grown by Cal Poly Horticulture students in the Foliage Greenhouse #10 at the Horticulture Unit. The plants were prepped and installed and are currently maintained by students.
You can see them for yourself at The Sandwich Factory, The Avenue, Metro Express, Metro 19, Ciao! and Sage restaurant. They have been installed and maintained by paid Agricultural and Environmental Plant Sciences students. After our program received much support from the rest of the Cal Poly campus community, we were given the opportunity to also design the interior plants for the new recreation center on campus that just opened earlier this year in the spring of 2012.
The process of designing for a client is both exciting and challenging. It’s exciting because we are getting hands-on experience that you would only get if you were in the industry, and challenging because we are faced with real-world circumstances such as working with a client’s budget, or a client’s idea of how he or she would like the design done (everything from the plant selection to the container selection). I not only got experience with installing and maintaining different interior plants and spaces, but I also got experience with the software that industry professionals use to design interior spaces for their clients.
After our design plans for the new recreation center were approved, which takes a while in the real world, it was time to take a trip to the Santa Ynez Gardens Nursery to pick out our larger more expensive palm trees, as well as some interesting color plants to make “color bowls” that may be changed out seasonally, such as at Christmas time with poinsettias.
Once our plants and containers were delivered, it was time to stage and clean all the plants before they are put in their new home. We cleaned and pruned them at the Horticulture Unit prior to placing them in the Rec Center. For the larger plants, we had to assemble them on site. But for our smaller plants and color bowls, we were able to get them all ready so that they could just be placed in their spots. Even though we purchase clean plants from nurseries, it’s important for us to inspect and clean them ourselves so that we can guarantee the plants’ health. We use a natural citrus spray to smother mites and insects as well as to give the foliage some shine. Then we place the plants in their individual saucers, or pots that have sub-irrigation so that we can easily replace plants in the future.
I urge everyone to check out our work! Visit the dining complexes on campus as well as the Rec Center that we just finished installing. I hope you all enjoy the plants as much as I do.
If you would like more information on the Interior Plant Management class that is offered by Joe Haslett, our projects, or possible jobs, please contact Joe Haslett at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted By: Dani Ruais