Anyone doing interiorscaping or know someone who does?

watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)October 5, 2004

I'm thinking about pursuing this as a career and would like to email with someone in the field to find out what it's really like. Thanks!

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Green_hands(z5bME)

No direct experience but a former co-worker did several years in a large interiorscaping firm. She indicated that you really needed to know your pest identification/IPM and have a large back-up stock of plants as plants frequently need to be rotated. Overwatering, underwatering, low humidity, mites, whiteflies, etc. all take their toll. They usually nursed the plants back to vibrant health in their infirmary greenhouse kept separate from the healthy plants greenhouse. I don't think this is exactly the easiest plant related business to break into. YMMV

    Bookmark   October 6, 2004 at 6:28PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I wasn't planning on starting my own company - I don't enjoy marketing that much! I just want to start as a maintenance technician and see how that goes. I've done houseplants long enough that I know my indoor pests!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2004 at 8:20AM
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amiga(z7 MD)

I see you're in MD. Our company does interiorscaping. Are you around Baltimore

    Bookmark   October 14, 2004 at 9:43PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Hi amiga. Yes, I am in the Baltimore suburbs. I just accepted a job with The Plant Connnection in Randallstown.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2004 at 9:48PM
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marshayeager

I also thought this was the job for me. Inside gardening. Air conditioning, no skin cancer or west nile from mosquitoes.... After doing this job for one year, I agreed with co-workers: you are trying to keep plants happy and healthy in places they aren't happy. I had a variety of accounts; restaurants, dr. offices, office buildings, people's homes, etc. It was physically exhausting for me: had to unload at each location, fill my watering tank in the janitor closet; refill it as needed; try and eliminate pests with little or no pesticides; continually have discussions with the site employees not to dump their remaining coffee in the plants and keep the blinds open in the conference rooms, not mess up people's homes while doing maintenance, etc. I did learn a lot and realize what a huge business opportunity there is for this type of business. If you like to walk, this will be a great job for you....

    Bookmark   October 19, 2004 at 3:13PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Pansyface,

Fortunately, I DO love to walk! I've been mostly helping to do new installations, but I have had one full day of following the tech around and learning that. Yes, it's physical, but not nearly as much as my former garden center job, where we were unloading and moving huge shrubs, trees, and big bags of mulch. Plus I have a lot of travel time stuck in traffic where I get to "rest" and sit down! There are a lot of pests, but I guess that's to be expected when the plants are in less than ideal conditions. So far the biggest challenge has been that my kid got sick my first week on the job and the dh has had to take off of work and be "Mr. Mom". Luckily, he's pretty understanding and a very nurturing guy.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2004 at 6:48AM
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VirginIslandsGuy(z11 USVI)

watergal,

Are you sticking with the interiorscaping?

Pansyface,

Yes, interiorscaping is challenging work. I did it for a year and a half in Cleveland and the main challenge I faced was low interior light. The sales department, of course, wants to sell as many plants as possible because commission is involved. That means some plants get put in places where they don't belong and won't thrive (windowless rooms), then the tech has to deal with the problem. Some plants die because of this, and it makes you look like a poor tech.

Anyway, I received excellent training in tropical plant care and now I'm doing the same kind of work in the U.S. Virgin Islands but with one major difference: The plants are outside and getting plenty of sun!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2004 at 5:18PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

What a great change of location, Virgin Islands Guy. Talk about the ultimate career move.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2004 at 10:54AM
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dabprop(z6 PA)

You know I thought I wanted to do this part time.But after reading about the walking,which I don't like and the lifting,etc.maybe I need to find out what other types of green industry jobs there are.I do enjoy greenhouse maintanence and propagation.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2004 at 1:57PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Yes, I'm sticking with the interiorscaping. After following the other employees around and learning from them, I'm about to go out on my own. The work is somewhat physical, but I find it very satisfying. Pansyface is absolutely correct in listing all the challenges to growing plants in office conditions, but I really enjoy the challenge of it and the "detective work" when you know a plant is having a problem.

We are a small company and everyone knows each other fairly well. The managers understand that there are certain locations in which plants will eventually decline regardless of how well the techs take care of them, and that's to be expected and no one get blamed for it.

The company tried various watering tanks but went back to the ugly but practical and lightweight Rubbermaid garbage can on casters. It's much easier to lift when empty and you can get the water out of the can and to the plants much faster. The downside is that you feel like a janitor as you're pushing the thing around.

I had been hoping to find a position part-time too, but it seemed that every company was looking for full-time, so I bit the bullet and went for it. So far, I have absolutely no regrets. And I'm earning enough that we can afford for my husband to take early retirement with my salary supplementing his pension.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2004 at 7:46PM
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VirginIslandsGuy(z11 USVI)

watergal,

I'm glad you're enjoying this. I've heard about those garbage cans. Fortunately, we all had watering machines. I used a 40-gallon one at a mall. It weighed over 300 pounds when full.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2004 at 5:18PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

The company tried the watering tanks but had 2 issues with them. The first was that the water came out so slowly from the skinny hose and it was hard to quantify the amount coming out. The second issue was the weight. I went online to check out weights and the tiniest tank was 40+ pounds empty, and they went up quickly in weight from there. I'm a fairly strong woman, but I'm not sure I'd want to wrestle that in and out of my van multiple times a day.

I'm told there's an old tank sitting in the shop somewhere if I'd like to try it out, but I think I'll stick with the ugly but practical garbage can!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2004 at 6:22AM
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ruth_12(z5 MA)

I work as a horticultural technician and enjoy it. Do it part time not sure if I would have the energy to do it full time. Sure some plants die but they expect that and you get an intuitive feel after a while whether they are over watered under watered etc etc. I have large water tanks stored in the places (malls etc) that I go or some places filling regulare water cans is enough. Malls can be frustrating when people sit on your plants or tear off the leaves or let their two year old run in the roped off bed. Lot of driving. Main problem now is the poinsettia which are really sensitive and die due to many diff causes (if you mention you voted for Kerry and they are Bush supporters etc).

    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 8:38PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Ruth,

Just had a big poinsettia catastrophe. I'm glad to know I can blame it on my politics! :) Most of the other plants under my care are doing well so far (knock on wood).

Some days I'm not sure I have the energy to do it full time either, but I'm building up my strength as I go. It's a fun job!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2004 at 5:22AM
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amiga(z7 MD)

Is anyone looking for an interiorscaping position in the greater baltimore area? We can train the right person. Let me know.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2005 at 7:55AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Well, after a year and a half (almost) and two holiday seasons, I decided to cut back to three days a week. There are very few days off in this business (holiday time actually means we have to work harder) and the grind was getting to me - missing time with my family mostly. Plus gas prices went up, and since I live in a way-out-there suburb, the commuting expense and time sitting in traffic was making the job barely worth it. Not to mention the many nights we ate out because no one had the energy to cook after working all day. Plus the husband got a raise and decided not to retire for a while.

Don't get me wrong - I still enjoy the work. But a balanced life is a good thing. Plus I'll have a couple of days a week for my own gardening! :)

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 11:59AM
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mdaughn(zone 7)

I think about you almost everyday as I drive by that purple building. I was wondering if you still worked there. How fortunate for you that you can cut back to 3 days a week. I'm jealous...I'm picking up a 1/2 more each week through spring.

M

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 2:14PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

mdaughn, so you've seen the lovely "Purple House"! Are you an interiorscaper too?

The timing for cutting back was really lucky. We had hired someone to help out over the holidays but didn't have much work to keep her on afterwards. She did fabulous work, though, and she wanted more hours. So one day, about a week before Christmas, when I was totally flipping out from stress, it dawned on me that I had the perfect solution - I could cut back and she could take my extra two days and everyone would be happy, even the boss who wouldn't have to hire anyone new!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 7:45PM
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mdaughn(zone 7)

I am the greenhosue/production manager for the Horticultural Division in Baltimore. We handle interior plants as they come and go in City Hall, some admin offices, and of course the Baltimore Conservatory.

Fortunately, more of the job is production of annuals and perennials although we handle 3000+ poinsettias too. Since we are sited at Cylburn Arboretum, I do a lot of landscape/garden management too.
M.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 1:45PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

No kidding! Small world! In the fall of 2004, when I was between jobs, I did some volunteering at the Conservatory for a couple of months. Met some nice people there and loved caring for the conservatory plants. I was hoping a paid position would open up, but the interiorscaping job came along first.

I'm so glad that the Conservatory got the renovation it deserved. I adore Victorian era glasshouses. Had the privilege of visiting Kew Gardens years ago. Wow.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 6:32PM
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horse_chick(Sunset 26)

So watergal, are you still working as an interiorscaper? Do you like it?

I found this old thread doing a google search for some work related projects.

I had to chuckle when I read it because I've been an interiorscape tech AND our companys PCO in charge for over 15 yrs.

I love the work but, even with a degree in Horticulture, the pay isn't fantastic. I have to wonder if the pay scale is better then it is here in Florida.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 8:54AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

horse chick,

If you haven't seen it yet, see my post under "question for people doing sales, proposals" to see what I've been up to lately. I'm still working as a tech 3 days a week, plus starting my own company in my "spare time".

I don't have a degree in hort, I'm not sure my pay would be much better here if I did. I agree that the field doesn't pay well, but the work is rewarding. I suspect it might pay a tad more up here, but not much.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 5:28PM
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panspipes(zone 9)

Hi Watergal & all other posters
I posted a thread expressing interest in interior plantscaping and was directed here. This thread has been a wealth of information, but it lacks numbers. Do you or anybody else know roughly how much one can expect to make hourly in this field? And is there much demand for design or is it mostly just maintenance? Thank you for your time. Kelly

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 11:08PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Hi Kelly. Unless you have some experience in horticulture, I would expect most places would want you to start as a maintenance tech. There's a lot more maintenance work than design work to be done, although of course the design is lots more fun!

It's been a long time since I jobhunted, but I would guess entry pay might be around $8-10 here in the Baltimore area. Not sure how the market is where you live.

Unfortunately, the industry is hurting, along with most industries right now. Most places are barely holding their own or laying people off. It will be a challenging time to find a job in this field.

Feel free to email me privately if you'd like to talk more.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 7:48AM
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pita2me

Our company is holding it's own. We deal with the Washington metro area; it is a little more recession proof than the reat of the country. Pay starts around $11-$12 depending on qualifications it goes up. However they are right when they talk about the walking, driving, dealing with clients and just aggrevating plants. It's all part of being a tech; you have to enjoy it or you shouldn't bother. Our company is small; they are always open to new ideas and techniques. Makes you feel more professional not just some goof with a watering can and some shears. We use the machines, moisture meters and new subirrigation when possible. I think the smaller companies are better; they are more in touch with thier people, clients and what is going on in the industry.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 9:56PM
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