It’s the little things about plants – knowing and understanding the nuances of caring for each type – like how the texture of a leaf can signal a plants need for water or the proper way to prune – that can make all the difference in keeping a plant healthy. It’s those things that students in the horticulture program at Interlake High School learn and apply on a daily basis, and that help them cultivate an appreciation for the outdoors.

“I thought it sounded fun,” Interlake senior Caroline Pim said about why she initially signed up for horticulture classes – she has taken three. “It’s a really hands on class, and all the work you put into it – you really get to see results.”

The results will be on display this week at the annual Spring Plant Sale, which is the culmination of the year-long Advanced Environmental Horticulture class.

“If you at all garden, you have to be here!” horticulture teacher Lynn McKay said.

Last week students bustled around the full to overflowing greenhouses – the school has five in all -caring for plants and organizing the greenhouses in anticipation of the sale.

“It’s the advanced kids’ sale, they set it all up,” McKay explained. “They’re all hard workers, and it’s a lot of responsibility. It isn’t like any other class.”

Horticulture Student

In all, McKay teaches Floral Design, Urban Horticulture and Advanced Environmental Horticulture.

Students learn about greenhouse management, how to care for plants including watering and pruning correctly, plant identification, dealing with insects, and landscape design.

“The first thing we really learn is how to propagate plants, which is simply just cutting off the tip of a plant and using it to create a new one,” Ben Spearman, a junior at Interlake, said.

Students also have the chance to go on a variety of field trips.

“I try to get them out, so they’re not just listening to me, but to professionals who perhaps started out this way,” McKay said.

Ultimately the goal of the program, McKay said, is to ignite an interest in plants and the natural world that students can take with them into their futures.

“Always my biggest deal is to excite students about the outdoor world to see what’s there and that it’s amazing,” McKay said. “I just want them to remember how this makes them feel, so that they either go into the business – in the green industry of any kind – or they remember it when they have their own gardens.”