I originally had the idea to start Keiki about four years ago. I had a neighbor who lived down the hall from me in the West Village who was an avid gardener and plant collector. I would bring her retired plants from my old job and she would get dying Orchids to re-bloom and grow healthy specimens from the clippings of graveyard begonias. She told me about when she visited Jamaica and smuggled an Orchid back home, wrapped up carefully and hidden in her suitcase. She would always try to brings clippings home with her from her travels, letting a little piece of that experience live on. She lent me books on container gardens and helped me turn my 400 square foot walkup into a jungle in the city.
When she passed away she left me her books and some of her plants, and I continued to pass clippings on to friends and fellow enthusiasts.
In horticulture, a keiki (/’keiki:/ kay-kee) is a plant produced asexually by an orchid plant, especially Dendrobium, Epidendrum (sensu lato), and Phalaenopsis orchids. The baby plant is an exact clone of the mother plant, sometimes flowering while still attached to the mother.
The word keiki is Hawaiian for "baby" or "child", literally "the little one".
A good friend of mine recently visited from California. She complimented the Chinese Money Plant (Pilea Peperomioides) growing in my windowsill, saying she had never seen one before. When I gave her a clipping to bring home with her, she told me about her grandmother who lived in Hawaii and how when you give the gift of a baby plant it’s called a Keiki.
I’ve always loved the idea of trading clippings, growing a plant from another plant, extending a legacy. Working as a florist, I am surrounded by fellow plant addicts - people that have a vast and different knowledge of flora. I am infatuated with people’s stories behind their plant collections. Thus began Keiki.
The goal of Keiki is to expand both plant knowledge and plant collections.