Longtime member of plant club chairing PHS Philadelphia Flower Show exhibit for 25 years

The Phila. Cactus and Succulent Society was founded in 1942 to educate people about these plants and help to grow them better.

Tamala Edwards Image
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Longtime plant club member chairing Flower Show exhibit for 25 years
Philadelphia Cactus and Succulent Society member Paul Weslowski has been the chair for the club's exhibit at the flower show for 25 years.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Once a month, Paul Wesolowski meets and about talks plants with fellow members of The Philadelphia Cactus and Succulent Society.

"It was founded in 1942 to educate people about these plants so that they could grow them better," said Wesolowski.

He's been a member of the club for 28 years and has served as chairman of the club's Philadelphia Flower Show exhibit for the last 25 years.

The club's exhibit is educational, but members can enter their most prized plants in the show as well.

"Philadelphia Cactus and Succulent Society is one of the biggest groups of people who enter individual plants in what's called the 'Hamilton Horticourt' at the flower show," said Wesolowski.

Wesolowski will be among them for the first time this year, entering two of his plants in the Horticourt competition.

He says one is an American plant called a "Fouquieria" and the other is an "Aloe Jucunda."

"But it kind of looks like a palm tree, so we put the little hula girls in there," Wesolowski said of the aloe plant.

He says the club is a good place to hone your skills, whether you're a novice or a longtime grower.

"There are 11,000 succulents and 2,000 cacti. Nobody knows everything about every one of those plants," he said. "It helps to have a wide circle of experts."

Even though he's been growing these kinds of plants most of his life, he says he still learns from other people.

Wesolowski says he got his first cactus in high school and his home collection has now grown to over 1,000 plants.

Part of his collection of plants is recognizable as more traditional cacti, but he has quite a variety of succulents. Some of his plants are bumpy, fuzzy, and even hairy.

"They actually stuff pillows with this in South America," Wesolowski said of the white hair on one cactus.

"Cactus is one specific family within the broader group of succulents," he said. "They're iconic, so they get the special mention."

The goal of the club's exhibit at the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show is to inspire others to join.

He says he hopes when people see it they will appreciate "the diversity in the succulent world."

"And then when they appreciate that diversity, they say: 'You know what? I think I could grow some of these plants on my windowsill,'" he said.

The Flower Show Preview Special airs on Saturday, March 4 at 7 p.m. on 6abc and wherever you stream.

The PHS Philadelphia Flower Show runs from March 4 through March 12 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. This year's theme is Garden Electric.

For more information:

Philadelphia Cactus and Succulent Society

Philadelphia Cactus and Succulent Society in Facebook

2023 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show

The Philadelphia Flower Show Preview Special