40 year-old Jade plant thrives at Janoski’s after cheating death in the cold

Two years ago I created a series called Plants that Matter which chronicled the special relationship between gardeners and their plants. When I heard of a near disaster with a special plant out at Janoski’s Farm and Greenhouse in Clinton, I knew it should be part of the series. Like many regulars at Janoski’s, I always stop to admire the huge jade plant in the back of the greenhouse. I’ve never seen one as big and on a recent visit saw that it was thriving, filled with beautiful white flowers.

This jade plant at Janoski's Farm and Greenhouse not only survived a near disaster, it's thriving and filled with flowers. Photos by Doug Oster

This jade plant at Janoski’s Farm and Greenhouse not only survived a near disaster, it’s thriving and filled with flowers. Photos by Doug Oster

















The original story below explains what happened to this treasured plant. The last line is a quote from Mike Janoski that proves to be prophetic.

Jade Resilience

When Mike Janoski and his wife, Patty, got a well-deserved break from running Janoski’s Farm and Greenhouse in Clinton last winter, they vacationed in Florida. While they were away, a greenhouse restoration project caused the furnace to go out on an especially cold night.

The only thing in the greenhouse that night was an immense jade plant, which has been part of the farm since 1976.

Mike’s brother-in-law Bill Metz, who was caring for the farm, was mortified and waited as long as possible to tell him what happened, even though Mike had called every day to check on the farm.

“The day before I was coming home, they broke the news to me because they didn’t want me to walk in and see it.”

Mike’s heart sunk, but he tried to put it in perspective. “It’s a mistake anyone could make,” he said.

When he returned, Metz and others took refuge on the other side of the greenhouse as Mike inspected the family heirloom. “The day I came back, the first thing I did was look at it, and I saw there was some life left in it.”

Mike Janoski and his mother JoAnn Janoski stand by the jade plant in the summer of 2016. It’s since grown to twice this size and blooms annually.

Mike’s mother, JoAnn Janoski, who started the business with her husband, Sonny, says the plant was a gift from Mike’s aunt, Regina Pyszczynski, back in ’76. It started as just a little cutting in an 8-inch pot.

“We just kept transplanting it into bigger pots, and when we didn’t have a pot big enough, built something,” JoAnn says. “It’s a part of the place.”

At first, the plant lived in the old wood-framed greenhouses and would be moved when the poinsettias were done for the season. Eventually, it go so big, a permanent pot was constructed in a newer greenhouse where it’s been for many years.

“It’s like losing part of your family,” JoAnn says. “I’m amazed how great it came back; it must like its home.”

There’s not much left in the greenhouse this time of the year, just the remaining flats of annuals on sale for the end of the season, but the jade plant’s shiny leaves tinged in red greet workers.

“You walk by it and you have memories of where it came from and what it’s been through,” Mike says. “Our devoted customers know it’s there and come every year to visit it. It’s part of the family,”

Although it’s a little smaller, the jade plant continues to put on new growth.

The plant has recovered nicely, Mike says. “It needs some pruning,” he says, “but it’s coming back strong. I think within two years, it’s going to be back to where it was.”

Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or doster@535mediallc.com. See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at everybodygardens.com.