Horticultural enthusiast runs Mutschlers' Rare Plant shop in Berks County

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Thursday, September 23, 2021
Horticultural enthusiast runs unique plant shop in Berks County
An 80-year-old Berks County business owner carries a unique collection of plants that can keep your green thumbs working all year round.

BIRDSBORO, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Bob Mutschler has a passion for plants.

"It's something I just started doing as a little kid and always liked it," he said.

Mutschler carries plants that are unique and different, like pitcher plants, which eat insects.

And that's become his specialty at Mutschlers' Rare Plants in Birdsboro, Berks County, where finding the unusual is commonplace.

He has a large selection of plants and trees inside and outside on his three acres of property at the business. Mutschler says he's interested in all plants, especially the rare ones.

"I went to college ten years to study horticulture," he said.

He started at Penn State, earning his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Science before heading to the University of Florida to earn his doctorate.

His career path has been unusual too. In his teen years, he became a rock singer and played guitar, opening for acts like Fabian and the Beach Boys.

"And that's how I put my way through college," explained Mutschler. "And then I ended up being a teacher for 38 years."

Originally opening as a flower shop for his wife Elsie, Mutschlers' Rare Plants has evolved much like the plants offered.

"We have a lot of cacti," said Mutschler. "They're totally winter hardy."

He also carries rare carnivorous plants as well as pond plants.

"We have 30 ponds here and we grow Koi and breed them," he said.

Mutschlers' also has an indoor conservatory that houses all tropical plants. He says air plants are a big seller because of their unique look.

"The plants are from Ecuador and the shell is a sea urchin from the South Pacific," said Mutschler.

"We sell a lot of bonsais and a lot of orchids. That's our biggest thing," he added.

Currently, he has a very rare orchid from Borneo blooming, which has a different look and scent from the more common varieties.

"It smells like dead meat, so it's not a good smell," said Mutschler.

He also carries a variety of succulents, which have become very popular. These plants require minimal work, making them "a very good starter plant," according to Mutschler.

"There's this real trend now for rare plants," he said. "Since the pandemic, we've actually been incredibly busy."

And he has no intention of slowing down. Mutschler teaches classes on weekends, mentors interns and donates all the money from his shop to charity. He says he's able to do that because he made enough money over the 15 years he spent as a rock singer.

Mutschler says he knew what he wanted to do from the time he was four years old, which was work with plants and own a greenhouse.

"I'm doing exactly what I wanted to do, so it's kind of neat," he said.

For more information, visit: Mutschlers.com