People, Places & Plants:Green Thumbs in the Golden State
Nature was a source of inspiration for our Spring 2018 collection. Awed by the lush greenery of the Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Gardens during the filming of our latest video, we wanted to bring the set home—and then we realized we could.
The first of a reoccurring series, we asked the greenest thumbs we know how to succeed in plant parenting in the most unnatural climate—the not-so-plant-friendly indoors. First up, our Cali-local gardening destinations.
BR: How much commitment do indoor plants require?
“There are indoor plants for almost every commitment level! From watering several times a week, for those who love to love a lot, to monthly watering, for those who have many other things they love. Ask a qualified nursery person who will hook you up with the right plant for your commitment level,” says Clarke de Mornay, resident houseplant buyer at Flora Grubb Gardens, one of our go-to gardening stores in San Francisco.
BR: Where do plants thrive indoors? Under what conditions?
Rolling Greens, a gardening destination with locations in Los Angeles and Culver City, explains: “There are indoor plants that survive under almost any condition. The vast majority survive with filtered light, while others like Sansevieria, zamia and the snake plant can survive with very little light. In southern California, many succulents that can survive intense afternoon direct sun, but only a few indoor plants can.”
BR: What are the top three requirements for indoor plants?
Ken Shelf, partner at Succulence in San Francisco, breaks them down: “Probably the most important thing is to know your environment. Do you get a ton of sun or not very much at all? That is crucial to picking a plant that will thrive in your home. The next question might be one about your style: Are you a helicopter plant parent or are you more likely to leave something completely alone? Another important consideration is the space. Do you have room for something that is going to get tall or are you looking for something small that will provide a bit of life to a small corner of your home?”
BR: What makes a good plant parent?
Rolling Greens gave us the hard truth.”Someone who isn’t afraid to put their fingers in the soil and accepts that horticulture is not a perfect science. Despite best efforts, failures will still occur.”
BR: What plants are best for a frequent traveler?
Annette Goliti Gutierrez, partner at Potted in Los Angeles, makes plant parenting—even for frequent travelers—sound easy. “Sansevieria, dracaena, aloe and even cactus—which do surprisingly well inside if they get enough light—will be just fine with a three- to four-week drought.”
THE FIRST SPROUT
BR: What are the best small indoor plants?
For Ken, the answer came easily. “Aloe vera is a terrific indoor plant friend. It is hearty, easy to care for and has the added bonus of having medicinal properties, so you can break off a piece to treat a minor burn. Some people even drink their juices.”
BR: Best big indoor plants?
Annette has a few suggestions: “Kentia palms are pretty fabulous. They can take lower light conditions and are quite showy. I also swoon for a Philodendron xanadu, which can get quite robust, though not a tall plant.”
BR: Easiest indoor plants?
Pothos are a sure thing, according to Ken: “They come in lots of color variations and if they are given steady water, they will grow steadily. You can train them to trail around an entire room from a small pot.”
BR: Most rewarding (or fickle) indoor plants?
When it comes to fickle plants, Annette offers some first-hand experience. “My favorite is the maidenhair fern. One of the most stunning ferns ever, but the second you forget to water it, it will make you pay.”
BR: Most perseverant plants for black thumbs?
Clarke de Mornay has the perfect plants for both kinds of black thumbs, “Sansevieria for the forgetful, ferns for those who want to something to fuss over.”
IN FULL BLOOM
BR: What was your first plant?
Ken still has his: “My first succulent was a Haworthia fasciata given to me in December of 1994. I still have it!”
BR: What plant made you want more?
Many plant parents are sure to empathize with Annette’s feelings on this one: “I think they all make me want more. It’s really a sickness—but one I don’t want to be cured of.”
BR: What is your favorite plant?
As many can relate, Ken has a soft spot for the Ficus lyrata, better known as the fiddle leaf fig. “I wish I lived somewhere that I could have it outside, where it can be enormous! But in chilly San Francisco, it is relegated to an indoor plant. Still, we have one at our shop with a 30-foot wingspan! It is a truly beautiful tree with gorgeous, gigantic leaves.”
BR: The secret to a thriving apartment jungle?
For Rolling Greens, there are actually four secrets: “Enjoyment, perseverance and time. If you enjoy your plants you will provide consistent care and learn from your past mistakes. Consistency is key.”
BR: What is most rewarding about being a plant owner?
Clarke says it best: “Caring for other things makes you a better person! It’s a science, it’s art, it’s spiritual! The rewards are endless.”
If you weren’t already a plant parent, now you know how great it can be. Stay tuned for the rest of the People, Places and Plants series, featuring more inspiring plant whisperers. In the meantime, discover the art nature can inspire by following Flora Grubb Gardens, Potted, Rolling Greens and Succulence on Instagram.