While we all watch our gardens fade to brown this winter, Jacob Stockslager sees his in living color. But the purple lights in the germination room at Stockslager’s Greenhouse aren’t for show: They are an energy-efficient LED upgrade from traditional metal-halide grow bulbs, and they offer a full light spectrum with very little heat. This allows the New Lebanon greenhouse to cultivate straight from “mother plant” cuttings, shipped in from breeders in South America and Africa. “When it’s snowing outside,” Stockslager says, “we’re thinking about spring.”
Cuttings take root in 70-degree grow rooms, and then staffers transplant them for later sale to independent garden centers—a kind of Santa’s workshop, with petunias and geraniums instead of dolls and toy trains. Jacob, who trained at The Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute, is the third generation of Stockslagers to run the business, starting with Jacob’s grandpa Ray, who opened up shop after returning from the Korean War. With Jacob’s grandma Joyce working at the greenhouse in its early years, father Duke and uncle Scott taking over ownership, and aunts Vicki and Barb working daily operations, keeping the lights on has been a true family affair.