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Problems to Success: Meg Renninger, Founder of Southside Plant

Welcome to an exclusive interview with Miss Meg Renninger, the illustrious owner of Southside Plants. Today, we are pleased to connect with Shudeshna Pandey, an accomplished agriculturist from Plants Craze, who will conduct this engaging online video interview.

As we delve into the world of horticulture and plant cultivation, Miss Meg Renninger’s expertise and passion for plants promise to offer valuable insights and inspiration to all plant enthusiasts. With her green thumb and extensive knowledge, Miss Renninger has successfully turned Southside Plants into a thriving botanical oasis, capturing the hearts of plant lovers worldwide.

Join us as we unravel the secrets behind her green empire and discover the wisdom she has cultivated on her remarkable journey.

Shudeshna: Hello, everyone. Today, we have the owner of the Southside plant, Miss Meg Reninger would like to welcome her on board for this interview.

Miss Renninger: Thank you. Thanks for giving me a chance to talk to you guys.

S: Well, it was our pleasure today. Let’s begin with an introduction for our readers and viewers of Plants Craze.

Miss Renninger: Sure, my name is Meg Renninger. I am the owner of the brand Southside Plants. I sell many products that solve my own plant problems and have started to solve many other people’s problems. For example, I sell a product called Crazy Keiki cloning paste that you can use to clone your own plants and get more plants for less money, and I also sell several other products, including house plant cleaning wipes for dusting off your plants.

Southside Plants

S: Well, that’s interesting. We know now that you’ve been running this business for quite some years but going back in time, were you always interested in plans since you were a child, or does your educational background relate to this field?

Miss Renninger: Yeah, so my educational background is in wildlife management, and that involves a lot of biology and plant biology. It’s hard to manage Animals if you don’t manage their ecosystem, so I have had a strong interest in Plants. I really started this company as a way to solve my own problems. I was very interested in orchids as houseplants, but the problem was I kept killing them, so once I figured out how to keep them alive, I just started progressing with the hobby. I wanted to learn how to create more orchids for less money, and that’s how I started going down the propagation craze.

S: So what could be why your orchid was not alive? Could you mention a few?

Miss Renninger: Yeah, it’s kind of funny; I killed a lot of orchids, I mean, I got so many grocery store orchids, but they wouldn’t last a couple of weeks in my house and I just couldn’t figure it out. I didn’t have much money at the time, and it was really frustrating that I would spend this much money and just have a plant that wouldn’t make it. So one year back in 2012-2013, I made a New Year’s resolution that I would learn how to keep orchids alive, and I looked up an orchid-specific Nursery in my state. I drove to them and told them how  I couldn’t keep them alive and asked them to tell me how to keep them alive, and the lady just picked up a plant and let me hold it. She said, “See how heavy it is,” I said, “Yeah, okay.” She was like, “Now let’s water it,” and then she just stuck it under a running faucet for like 30 full seconds. She returned it to me, saying, “See how heavy it is now.”

I basically had been starving my orchids of water this entire time. You know, a lot of grocery store orchids that you see, they suggest, you know, just putting a couple of ice cubes on them to keep them alive. This is a tropical plant. They do not need ice cubes; they need water, not like a little bit of water either. They need to be drenched and have it running out the bottom, and that was the Epiphany that I needed, and from then on, I’ve kept them alive.

S: Well, interesting. So, would you please elaborate a little about the basic needs of tropical plants?

Miss Renninger: Yeah, I think this might be a running theme, but for a long time, it’s just figuring out how much water they need. I think some people either forget and it dies or, more often, they’re watering it too much. They would want to have like a specific schedule where it’s like once a week. I have a fiddle leaf fig that’s, you know, eight feet tall, and I water it like every three weeks. I think the gist is to figure out what the plant wants and not what your schedule wants.

S: That’s very, very true. More than underwatering, overwatering might be a dangerous problem, so what do you have to say about this?

Miss Renninger: I think most people are over-watering their plans, and here’s a philosophy with plants: you have to know what kind of plant owner you are. I have learned that I do not handle fussy plans well. I’ve learned that about myself, so if I have a plant that’s like failing to thrive, I give it away, and guess what? All my plants look wonderful because they’re the ones that have survived. I am naturally selected for having plants that do great in my house because if they can’t handle going, you know, sometimes a week, sometimes 10 days without water, then they’re gonna perish, and I’ll give away I give them away, to my mom as she likes them.

S: You heard it right from the expert. We need to select a plant that goes with our routine and habits. I actually want to know more about the cloning paste. Maybe you can tell us more or give us more insight into its composition and how it works.

Miss Renninger: Yeah, so Crazy Keiki cloning paste is a hormone paste that you can apply to the nodes of your plants, and it will put out more vegetation in a way; this can be helpful because, one, you can use it to clone new plants, but you can also help your like sort of leggy or stringy plants that need a little bit more encouragement to put out more leaves. Just like you know, any of these hormone products involve different hormones that work on different parts of the plant, this hormone works on encouraging vegetation, and it’s made up of a special blend of these hormones along with vitamins and minerals that will help the plant trick itself into putting out more vegetation but keep it healthy while it does that. I developed that formula specifically to help me get more orchids, and the houseplant community really embraced the product, so I started doing a lot more tutorials and experiments showing how it works on house plans, and one little tiny vial of cloning paste it works for dozens of applications, and it comes with a full cover tutorial guide for over a dozen plants.

S: Does the Keiki clone paste make the whole regrowth process easier, or is it just like any normal hormones would do?

Miss Renninger: It depends on the health of the mother plant, and with any plant, you’re going to have various preferred propagation methods. You know the common propagation method: cutting it into little sections and propagating it that way. With succulents, you take off a little leaf or something, let it callus over, put it in soil, and it propagates that way, but this paste works pretty well on woodier plants or like Orchid stems, and it just works really well on that, but a lot of people do it to help the plant add more leaves. You can’t do those other propagation methods for a Fiddle Leaf fig that has dropped some leaves. You can’t just chop it up and fix your problem when your problem is that you’ve lost a couple of leaves, so it’s just another tool in your tool kit for getting what you want out of your plants.

S: That’s right. So what would it be for a new budding Garden Enthusiast to keep in mind before this start over, or what are all the basic things they would require for that?

Miss Renninger: Okay, so again, a lot of the watering is going to be an issue, and we’ll get to that, but a lot of times when people are encouraged to start guarding as beginners, they often see little tiny pots with little plants on it. It’s easier it’s and more sustainable to keep on this journey that could be lifelong, so set yourself up for success. If you’re living in an apartment and have a balcony, but you don’t want to be lugging soil up, lots of soil alternatives are much lighter. You can use compressed cocoa core chips that come in a handy little brick that weighs maybe a couple of pounds. It’ll expand to a huge amount of soil, so there are many ways to save on, like how much space you’re dealing with, but don’t skimp on the container if you’re going to start gardening. Try to go for as large as you can.

S: Yeah, well, that’s helpful advice. So how could you make gardening feasible and equally less time-consuming or match your budget and gardening together?

Miss Renninger: Okay, if there’s one thing about gardeners, they know how to be thrifty. Numerous ideas on how to garden on a budget are available on various websites, especially Pinterest. You can find beautiful pictures showcasing these ideas. For example, one well-documented method is to get a bag of soil and use it as a container by cutting a hole in the side and planting in it. Another option is a five-gallon bucket, which can be easily found at Home Depot. You can also explore your recycling bin for free or discarded containers. With minimal resources, you can create your own containers and even make your own soil. Starting home composting with just a few pockets is also a cost-effective approach. So, there are ways to be thrifty in gardening, and I highly recommend checking out Pinterest for easy gardening ideas on a budget.

S: How do South Side plants consider sustainability and eco-friendliness for the earth and the environment?

Miss Renninger: That’s a great question, especially considering we are an e-commerce brand. Our products are typically shipped in cardboard packaging, and to ensure they remain intact during transit to Amazon and other warehouses, they are often wrapped in plastic. However, we have made it a priority to address these concerns. For instance, when it comes to plant wipes, we have focused on making them biodegradable. We have also been actively reducing our overall plastic usage and exploring ways to minimize the environmental impact of shipping our products. One strategy we have implemented is shipping in larger volumes, which allows us to send them to facilities closer to proximity rather than spreading them out across the entire country. This helps lower the carbon footprint associated with transportation.

S: With a diverse range of products on your website, how do you manage inventory, handle stock, and project future business growth and scalability?

Miss Renninger: That’s an excellent question, but unfortunately, I don’t have a definitive answer. Running this business amidst the supply chain challenges of the past three years, including the pandemic and the potential impact of a local or global recession, makes it a constantly shifting situation. However, our priority is ensuring that as many products as possible are produced locally. This approach helps mitigate some of the complications we have faced in the past. By focusing on local growth and utilizing local labor, we have maintained agility and avoided excessive inventory buildup for the future.

S: Actually, I came to know about the wipes very late, and when I came to know about it, I was like, oh wow, this is something that anybody could have thought. In normal life, we use our wipes, right, but who thought there could be houseplants wipes?

Miss Renninger: Yeah, it was something that always bothered me as a chore, so I thought, “How can I improve this?” Some of the products I offer, like the aluminum propagation cones, were born out of that desire. They can fit any size of vases or glasses, and for the longest time, I was using plastic domes from icy or slushy tops, flipping them over for the same purpose. While that worked fine, I wanted something that looked more aesthetically pleasing. So, some of these products were developed to solve my own problems. However, I realized that if I faced these challenges, others must be experiencing them, too, without any solutions available.

As for accessories like bark and fertilizer, my focus is not on following trends but addressing market gaps and correcting existing shortcomings. Unlike large department stores that cater to the broadest mass appeal, I, as an e-commerce business, care about the overlooked minorities among plant keepers. I want to provide solutions for specific plants that aren’t receiving attention elsewhere. While anyone can make a terracotta pot, I aim to address the unique needs of niche plants that are being ignored. So, my focus is not necessarily on trends but on fulfilling the overlooked micro-needs.

S: How can gardening wipes benefit us and make our lives easier with plants? Could you provide more information on their usage and their specific benefits compared to using a spray bottle to clean plant leaves?

Miss Renninger: Certainly! Gardening wipes can provide several benefits and make our lives easier when it comes to caring for plants. One particular use I find helpful is for large leafy tropical plants like fiddle leaf figs. Using the wipes to remove dust from their leaves is especially beneficial during winter when these plants may not receive adequate sunlight due to being placed in darker winter windows. Removing the layer of dust enables the plant to maximize photosynthesis and thrive.

Additionally, during the summer, I often place many of my house plants outside to enjoy the fresh air. I believe plants benefit from occasional exposure to wind, as they naturally grow outdoors where the wind is present. However, some cleaning is necessary before bringing them back indoors after the summer. This involves removing spiders and pecan nuts (planted by squirrels in my neighborhood) and addressing any infestations of ants or spiders. Gardening wipes are particularly useful for a thorough cleaning, ensuring the removal of eggs or debris from the leaves.

It’s worth mentioning that some people prefer using a sock to dust their plants, and that’s perfectly fine. There are various ways to solve the problem, and a sock is a viable option. However, I find using these wipes more convenient and effective in addressing my specific needs.

S: How do you foresee the influence of technology and e-commerce transforming the gardening industry and reshaping our perspective and approach towards gardening, considering the significant rise in online shopping and the unique appeal of your plant wipes compared to other available products?

Miss Renninger: E-commerce revolutionizes the gardening industry by making it more accessible to many people. Traditional nurseries often have numerous products, but their packaging may not provide thorough explanations. In contrast, e-commerce platforms empower customers to research, explore different applications, and learn from others online experiences. This allows customers to try out smaller quantities of products before committing to larger purchases. The convenience of e-commerce makes gardening more approachable, and once customers have gained knowledge and experience, they can confidently visit local stores and make informed purchases in larger quantities.

S: As we come towards the end of the interview, I’d like to highlight that we are speaking with Meg Renninger, South Side Plant’s problem solver, and owner. This is Sudisha Pandey from Plants Craze, and we’ve been discussing plant-related issues and the products with the expert herself. With limited time remaining, I’d like to ask: Where do you envision South Side Plant in the next five years? Are there any future plans to take it to the next level and make it the ultimate destination for any Plant Parent?

Miss Renninger: I would like to continue developing products that simplify plant care at home. With the rise in people getting into plants during the pandemic, many have bought small plants that are now growing bigger and requiring more attention. As my plant collection expands, keeping up with watering and other tasks becomes challenging. Therefore, I focus on creating products that make these chores easier, such as watering and rotating plants. This direction will be a priority for our future developments. Additionally, we are exploring additional opportunities for propagating houseplants.

S: As we conclude the interview, what suggestions would you, as an expert, offer to our viewers at Plants Craze who are interested in purchasing your products to enhance their plant management knowledge and help with their plant care?

Miss Renninger: Well, I suggest giving yourself permission to forgive any past experiences of plant loss and to explore and discover the types of plants that thrive in your care. Remember, plants are created through cloning; buying them still supports small businesses. So, don’t hesitate to purchase plants and try to keep them alive. If a plant doesn’t thrive despite your love and care, consider giving it away to someone who will appreciate and care for it. Ultimately, the key is finding the best plants for you.

S: I understand that not every plant may be a perfect fit for everyone, and it’s okay if you encounter difficulties or challenges in caring for a particular plant. Sometimes, it’s necessary to make corrections and acknowledge that someone else may be better suited to care for that plant. As we near the end of the interview, I must express my sincere appreciation for the delightful conversation, Meg. The interview went by smoothly, and having you join us has been an absolute honor. Thank you for accepting our request and being a part of this interview. Thank you.

Miss Renninger: Thanks for the opportunity. I appreciate it.

S: I hope that our audiences, consisting of both the Plant Craze readers and your customers at Southside Plant, have gained valuable insights into planting and gardening. We are truly grateful that you shared your knowledge with us, and I personally feel fortunate to have learned from it. I wish our audiences also to find happiness and satisfaction in your provided information.

As our captivating interview with Miss Meg Renninger, the visionary owner of Southside Plants, comes to aclose, we extend our gratitude to Shudeshna Pandey, an esteemed agriculturist from Plants Craze, for conducting this enlightening online video discussion.

Throughout the interview, Miss Renninger shared her invaluable expertise and showcased her unwavering dedication to the world of plants. Her remarkable success in addressing her own plant problems and subsequently offering solutions that benefit countless others has made Southside Plants a beacon of inspiration in the botanical realm.

We sincerely thank Miss Meg Renninger for her time, insights, and passion as her journey continues to inspire and nurture plant enthusiasts around the globe.