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80-year-old horticulturist has shop full of rare plants

Bob Mutschler has a passion for plants. "It's something I just started doing as a little kid and always liked it," he said. Mutschler carries plants that are unique and different, like pitcher plants, which eat insects. And that's become his specialty at Mutschlers' Rare Plants in Birdsboro, Berks County, where finding the unusual is commonplace.

He has a large selection of plants and trees inside and outside on his three acres of property at the business. Mutschler says he's interested in all plants, especially the rare ones. "I went to college ten years to study horticulture," he said. He started at Penn State, earning his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Science before heading to the University of Florida to earn his doctorate.

His career path has been unusual too. In his teen years, he became a rock singer and played guitar, opening for acts like Fabian and the Beach Boys. "And that's how I put my way through college," explained Mutschler. "And then I ended up being a teacher for 38 years."

Originally opening as a flower shop for his wife Elsie, Mutschlers' Rare Plants has evolved much like the plants offered. "We have a lot of cacti," said Mutschler. "They're totally winter hardy." He also carries rare carnivorous plants as well as pond plants. "We have 30 ponds here, and we grow Koi and breed them," he said.

Mutschlers' also has an indoor conservatory that houses all tropical plants. He says air plants are a big seller because of their unique look. "The plants are from Ecuador, and the shell is a sea urchin from the South Pacific," said Mutschler. "We sell a lot of bonsais and a lot of orchids. That's our biggest thing," he added.

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