The Great Big Greenhouse is going green

The Great Big Greenhouse makes planting and growing plants second nature.

The Great Big Greenhouse has been open since 1977, and serves the public a with a wide variety of exotic plants. (Photo by: Nikki Abbas)

For nearly 45 years, since their opening day in 1977, the Great Big Greenhouse, owned by Meadows Farms, has nourished a large community of plant life. With everything from small cactuses, air plants, and flowers, to huge ferns, fruit trees, leafy vines, and even a ten-foot-tall palm tree, the greenhouse has the perfect mix for every plant enthusiast.

For those who live in the Richmond area, the Great Big Greenhouse is a common household name for plant lovers, and always piques interest for those unfamiliar with the business.

Meadow Farms, the largest independently owned nursery in the country, has nearly 18 greenhouse locations nationwide. With over 750 employees working for Meadow Farms, it is one of the biggest greenhouse corporations in the United States.

The company is owned and managed by CEO Bill “The Farmer” Meadows and his wife Betty Meadows. Their son, Jay Meadows, is the current President of the company and oversees the working staff and the different branches.

Cactus lovers can now access a wide variety of small cacti to add to their gardens. (Photo by: Nikki Abbas)

One worker of the Great Big Greenhouse, Aidan Minnick, has spent the past year as a nurseryman, carefully cultivating and caring for the plants. “I usually work outside, but during the slower months I’ll work around inside with the houseplants,” Minnick said.

“I was actually a regular before I started working here. I was a big fan of the houseplants. Just being able to see everything come in on the trucks is really exciting. It’s exciting to catch a look at the changing scenery because it is always changing.”

“My main responsibility is just to be there for the customers and restock things and water plants. All of the nurserymen will have certain tasks to do, and everyone sorta goes for what tasks they want. I’m a big fan of watering, so I usually stay on that track.”

Terrariums offer a different approach to micro planting. (Photo by: Nikki Abbas)

According to the employees, the Great Big Greenhouse generally holds about 20,000 plants during the summer months. This includes all of the plants inside the greenhouse and those in the outdoor garden. During the winter when the outside gardens are closed, the main greenhouse holds about 3,000 plants. Plants range from all kinds of mossy greens to prickly cacti.

The Great Big Greenhouse offers a wide variety of plants, including Pothos, a common household plant. (Photo by: Kyle Reeder)


There are sections dedicated to trees, such as lemon, lime, and olive trees. In the back of the greenhouse, guests can venture through a tunnel of pothos vines danging from above. Pothos is one of the most common household plants and one of the quickest growing. For those less likely to keep up with watering their plants, there are air plants along with a large variety of small cacti. There is also a small variety of terrariums that offer a different approach to micro planting.

“It depends on what you’re looking for. Our pines, and things like that, usually come from North Carolina and West Virginia. We have fruit trees that actually just came in from an orchard in Virginia. Everything inside is mostly from Florida, but a lot of our plants come from Asia, South America, and anywhere tropical,” Minnick said.

At the end of the day, the Great Big Greenhouse, which can be found off Huguenot Road, has truly mastered the art of turning green not only into gold but into a fashionable hobby that is quite easy to learn. The Greenhouse is open from 9 A.M. to 6 P.P. seven days a week and welcomes all plant-lovers.