For 14 years after he left college in 1968, Mervin Wallace hunted for native flowers in Missouri. It began as a hobby, but a few decades later, it would become the way he met his wife and started the Missouri Wildflowers Nursery southwest of Jefferson City.
The wildflowers nursery opened in 1984 shortly after he met his current wife Ginny, then a botanist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. Over the years, the nursery has expanded to grow more plants, hire more employees, and launch its own website and a spring catalog.
The 50-acre property off U.S. 54 holds 16 greenhouses, a barn for seed sorting and storage, 6 acres of natural plants, an office, and a shop where customers pay for their purchases. There is also a large pond that supplies all the water the plants need.
The business sells starters and fully grown Missouri wildflowers such as blue lobelia or butterfly weed, as well as native grasses, tree starters, shrubs, vines, and seeds. In addition, the business sends a spring catalog to customers, and the shop sells shirts.
The future of the business is bright as the nursery prepares for its fall 10% discount sale. Wallace hopes native plants continue to be popular in home gardens, especially with the rapid loss of natural prairie in Missouri.
“There’s just a lot less prairie land than there used to be, and there is all kinds of room on people’s yards and properties to grow native plants,” he said. “You can make a difference if you’ve got 100 square feet in your yard.”
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