Wausau Pilot & Review
Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s featured Wausau business is Down to Earth Greenhouse, locally owned and operated for more than 15 years. This one-stop garden shop offers an expansive array of plants to beautify your space – from delightful, tiny fairy gardens to a delicious selection of vegetables and herbs, to a wide range of trees that can add both shade and color to any yard. Managing member Micki Luebbe, who operates the business with her husband Cris, said each plant variety is carefully chosen to ensure gardens will thrive in Wisconsin’s cooler climate. Whether you’re a gardening expert or newbie, Micki and Cris can give you advice to ensure your plants look beautiful all season long with annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs. One greenhouse is entirely devoted to fruit, herb and vegetable plants, and you’ll also find an eclectic selection of garden art, concrete statues, fountains and more. Since its inception, Down to Earth has grown dramatically, and they’re not finished yet – with exciting plans for the future as they continue to expand and serve their customers. Now that the weather has finally improved and summer is on the horizon, be sure to plan your visit to Down to Earth, 6104 N. 52nd Ave. in Wausau soon for the best possible selection – and chose your favorites from thousands of hanging baskets, annuals and much more. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
When did you purchase Down to Earth Greenhouse and what inspired you to do that?
Cris and I purchased Down to Earth six years ago, so we are starting our seventh season with the business. As we were good friends with the former owner, we were able to watch the nursery grow from an idea to a thriving business in central Wisconsin. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to continue providing this service to our community who love beautiful plants and flowers as much as we do. The greenhouse is a happy place, and we love to see our customers return every spring and hear what they are planning to grow each season!
Tell us about the variety of plants you have to offer.
We start each season with an annual bare root sale in mid-April. These are field grown tress and shrubs that are very easy to care for and plant, and they are less expensive than those planted in containers. Bare root also grow quickly and adapt to new conditions fast. They are dormant when they arrive at the greenhouse, and we have them available until the warm temperature wakes them up. Once they start to leaf out, they need to be potted and can no longer be sold as bare root.
We also start our planting for the season in mid-March. Over the course of four weeks we plant over 100,000 plants! We have over 3,000 hanging baskets and two 200-foot long greenhouses filled with a variety of annuals, including some very unique new plants, including my new favorite, the Crazytunias! We also have another 200-foot greenhouse that is devoted to perennials, many different varieties which include native plants.
We have an 80-foot long greenhouse that is dedicated to vegetables and herbs for the home gardener. In the yard, we carry evergreens and a variety of shrubs for creating the perfect landscaping around your home. We are happy to talk with customers about their design vision and help them select the plants that best suit their needs, environment, and aesthetics.
We’ve had an awfully cool spring. What’s the best time to start putting annuals in the ground and getting our vegetable gardens growing?
We recommend not planting anything in the ground until it is consistently over 45 degrees overnight. There are some spring bloomers that can handle lower temps, such as pansies, snapdragons, and marigolds and can get in the ground sooner. We always recommend cold hardening your plants by slowly acclimating them to the cooler temps than they were used to. You can cold-harden plants setting them outside when temps are 40 degrees. Be sure to shelter them from the sun and wind the first few days. At night, bring them into a warmer shelter. You can gradually increase the time outside based on the weather and this process can take 1-2 weeks depending on the temperature and what type of plant you are working with.
What are some of the easiest plants to care for? (I notoriously have the opposite of a green thumb!)
Pansies and marigolds are really hardy and easy to care for, zinnias are also beautiful and make great cut flowers! We also have a large variety of succulents this year.
What are some of the best plants for hanging baskets?
Personally, I love hanging baskets with overflowing petunias or calibrachoa. I especially enjoy that they can be refreshed mid-season with a “haircut” if they get too leggy. Fuchsias and begonias also make stunning baskets as well and they do well in shady areas!
What do you wish more people knew about gardening?
I think the understanding around the benefits of gardening has begun to grow expediently. Gardening is so good for the soul and can really provide so many mental and physical benefits for people! Studies have shown that it improves your mood through the sight, smells, and touch of plants! The microbes in the soil can help with easing stress and anxiety.
I love that we are seeing younger and younger generations embracing gardening as not only a past time but a way of life! We have seen a large uptick in young children who are very interested in growing their own food. We hope this passion for eating directly from their own garden continues as they get older. I myself was exposed to growing at a young age as my grandparents were local farmers with large vegetable gardens, an apple orchard, and dairy cattle. I like to think that they would be proud that they instilled a love of growing in me and my brother (our Landscaping Lead) that continues to this day!
Connect with Down to Earth Greenhouse
6104 N. 52nd Ave. – Wausau, WI 54401