Plant society president competing in PHS Philadelphia Flower Show for over 25 years

The 2024 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show runs from March 2-10 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Tamala Edwards Image
Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Plant society president competing in PHS Philadelphia Flower Show for over 25 years
The 2024 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show opens on March 2 and there's a president of a plant society who's been showing his plants for more than 25 years.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Once a month, Stephen Maciejewski leads a meeting of the Liberty Bell Gesneriad Society in Roxborough.

He says members of the group get together to share their common interest and to learn from each other. Plant show-and-tell is always on the agenda.

"And people are very generous with their plants and with information," says Maciejewski.

Betsy Gottshall, a 30-year member of the Liberty Bell Gesneriad Society, brought a variety of baby plants to this meeting to share with other members.

"The micro-mini sinningias are really popular with people. It was the first plant that kind of brought me to the gesneriad society," says Maciejewski.

Gesneriad might sound unfamiliar, but many people are familiar with the plants. The lipstick plant and African violets are both more well-known gesneriads.

"It's a large family of plants, maybe 2,000-3,000 different species, more being discovered all the time," says Maciejewski.

Some volunteers from the group will donate their plants for display at the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, like Gottshall.

RELATED: Explore the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show!

"I just like growing the babies and sharing," says Gottshall.

Maciejewski says Gottshall is "a great propagator" for the Liberty Bell Gesneriad Society.

"They'll set up little exhibits, just inform the public," he says of the group's role at the show.

Other members, like Maciejewski, ready their plants for individual competition in the Horticourt.

"I have a number of gesneriads here, some begonias. I have a number of hoyas," he says. "You have to grow a little bit of everything."

He's been competing in the flower show for 27 years.

Maciejewski says his parents used to take him to the flower show as a child and now he feels it's his turn to give back and bring plants to the show for the next generation to enjoy.

"I'm working on my legacy issues," he jokes.

But his conservation work in Asia is preserving gesneriads for future generations. He co-founded the Gesneriad Conservation Center of China, which now has seven branches.

He says in return for his conservation work, he's had a plant named after him, Primulina maciejewskii.

He has a photo of that plant, along with many others he's seen on his trips to China and Vietnam. Some of these photographs will be on display at the Liberty Bell Gesneriad Society exhibit at the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show.

Maciejewski says he feels fortunate to have the flower show in Philadelphia, since for him, "it's a passion."

"We like sharing," he says. "It can be a great learning experience."

You can watch The Flower Show Preview Special Saturday, March 2 at 7pm on 6abc and streaming!

For more information:

Liberty Bell Gesneriad Society:

PHS Philadelphia Flower Show: