Flashbacks in Florida at the Tropical Plant Industry Expo

After all the New Year celebrations are over, I still have something to look forward to every year: the annual Tropical Plant Industry Expo in Florida. It’s become a tradition for me to start the year meeting with my Plantscaping industry colleagues from 45 states and 37 different countries, and learning about the latest trends and products I can offer to our clients at Good Earth Plant Company.

When you have been in business almost 40 years like we have, you see certain concepts and ideas recycled from time to time. Sometimes we get a new twist on those old ideas. Other times we see concepts reinvented with upgraded materials or technology.

Check out my authentic 1970s macrame at the original Good Earth Plants stand. You can tell it’s authentic from my haircut.

But I never imagined I would get a seventies flashback at the 2017 TPIE show. Believe it or not, macramé is here! Seeing macramé come back after being so maligned is hilarious. Even Orchids plants hanging in macramé are something I can see using. I can also change to adopt these new design trends based on old design trends where they make sense.

Back in the day, people made their own macramé hangers. That was the point of it. I was able to find a woman who made them commercially in multiple colors. She even made an early version of a living wall, a large flat diamond-shaped macramé you hung onto a wall that held a plant. I wish I had a photo to show you!

Tillandsias were everywhere at this year’s TPIE show and literally growing on everything and anything.

Right alongside the return of macramé is the return of a plant popular in the 1970s: tillandsias. I can’t believe I’m seeing them again. Tillandsias are a genus in the Bromeliad family, and we use many types of Bromeliads for interior Plantscaping. Tillandsias account for about 25 percent of all Bromeliad species. They are from the warmer regions of Mexico and Central America but they grow in high altitude, in jungles and rain forests, and deserts. They are also called “air plants.” They use their roots to attach themselves to trees or other structures and absorb moisture and nutrient through their leaves, not through roots into soil.

Tillandsias come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, color and blooms. Some are even fragrant. It’s fun for me to see them popping up again and used in new ways.

New twists on favorite colors from the 1970s and 1980s are in play for plantscaping containers in 2017.

Also being recycled at TPIE for 2017 are popular color schemes from the seventies and also the eighties. I actually like seeing some of the “old” colors coming back in new versions of avocado green, mustard yellow and rusty oranges, along with the mallard teals, raspberry mauves, and seafoam green.

Keynote speaker Jane Lockhart, an interior designer, explained that we have a whole generation of people who are a brand new audience for these trends. So what’s retro to me and many of us is fresh to the Millennials looking for something new. And if we loved it once, why wouldn’t people love it again?

But not everything looks familiar. As we predicted in our blog post about Top Trends to Watch in 2017, we are starting to see unusual shapes and colors for plant containers. Take a look at some of my favorites in the above photos.

The Mast Tree is a new choice for large scale plantscaping we predict will be very popular.


We’re also seeing brand new types of interior plants to create a different look to your Plantscaping designs for your workplace or home. One I especially liked is the Ashoka Tree or Mast Tree, Polyalthia longifolia. It is native to India and grows in a tall column shape, like a mast. It can reach 35 feet high but stay just four feet in diameter all the way up.  Mast Trees can be planted to form a hedge or windbreak. Imagine a row of Mast Trees planted in pots to make a divider or screen in an open office layout or lobby.

By the time you read this I’ll be heading back to San Diego with lots of new ideas and renewed energy, ready to get to work with just as much enthusiasm after forty years as I did after just one year.

Sorry to disappoint you, but one great idea from the seventies WILL NOT be coming back: my super fine mullet haircut. It lives on only in photos.