People, Places & Plants:Plant Whisperers Across the States
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 second edition 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. This time, we called upon our favorite garden stores across the country.
BR: How much commitment do indoor plants require?
“Only as much as you want,” explains Eliza Blank, CEO and founder of The Sill. “The choice is really yours. You can choose plants that need attention daily or plants that thrive on neglect!” The Sill is an online plant purveyor with two store locations in New York City.
BR: Where do plants thrive indoors? Under what conditions?
Eliza says plants are just like us: “Most houseplants are like people — they prefer spaces filled with natural light, and prefer to be kept around 70 degrees where it’s not too dry.”
BR: What are the top three requirements for indoor plants?
“The proper amount of water, nutritious soil and sunlight,” according to Satoshi Kawamoto, CEO and creative director of Green Fingers Market. He doesn’t forget to mention the fourth requirement: “Of course, they also need continued care.” Green Fingers Market is a creative company which proposes an independent style of greens, with locations in New York City, Tokyo and Milan.
BR: What makes a good plant parent?
Stephen Hill, creative director of Sprout Home, tells us how it is: “Tough love and careful observation are key—know when to say ‘no’. But also, know yourself. If you’re a nurturer, those plants that love a daily misting of water, a regular wipe-down of the leaves and consistent moisture at the roots will be a great companion for you. If you prefer more independent companions, those that like to dry and stay dry for a while may be a better match.” Sprout Home is a gardening brand with store locations in Chicago and Brooklyn.
BR: What plants are best for a frequent traveler?
“If you can provide a lot of light, succulent and cacti are both good options,” Satoshi offers. Stephen backs him up: “Many of my succulents at home receive little if any water in the winter months.”
THE FIRST SPROUT
BR What are the best plants for beginners?
According to Alea Joy, shop owner of Solabee Flowers & Botanicals, philodendron and pothos are ideal for new plant parents: “Not only are they used to quickly adapting to the changing light levels of the jungle, they are also forgiving of beginner watering mistakes. Pothos are slightly better recovering from under-watering and neglect, while philodendrons are a bit better if you tend to over-water.” Solabee Flowers & Botanicals is a conservatory-style plant shop and floral design studio located in Portland, Oregon.
BR: What are the best small indoor plants?
Alea suggests: “My personal favorite small plant is my Eyelash begonia. I love them for their unusual and delicate look, but also for their unusually hardy and pest-resistant nature. I’m also constantly falling in love with tiny succulents and cactus—you can line a window sill with different varieties and feel like you are visiting a little world in each pot.”
BR: Best big indoor plants?
“Ficus and dracaena are hardy and get big—they can easily integrate with your furniture and décor,” says Sati.
BR: Most rewarding indoor plants?
“I’ve always considered successful and healthy plants to be rewarding,” explains Stephen. “Whether these require all of the insights of gardening know-how or very little from the plant parent, any success is a huge reward.”
BR: Most fickle indoor plants?
Alea knows of a few: “If you aren’t lucky enough to live in a climate where they easily grow outdoors, staghorn ferns are a fun plant for the dedicated waterer. Contrary to popular belief, air plants also require a bit of skill and attention to thrive indoors. For those of you who have gotten a gifted orchid to re-bloom, you can speak to the true reward these often-discarded beauties have in store for the truly patient.”
BR: Most perseverant plants for black thumbs?
Alea suggests the Anastatica hierochuntica, also known as the resurrection plant: “This species prefers to stay balled up and dormant for months at a time and requires no soil.” Stephen warns against varieties that are commonly touted as easy: “Sansevieria and ZZ plants are often awarded titles of low-light and low-maintenance, but they’re not very forgiving if they’re ever over-watered, so I can only cautiously call them ‘easy,’” he explains.
IN FULL BLOOM
BR: What was your first plant?
“A Peace Lily from my Mom—I killed it!” Eliza remembers. Alea’s first plant had a similar fate: “When I was 8 years old someone gave me a Zebra Haworthia. It was one of the first things that felt truly mine. I loved that plant so much. So much that I watered it every day until it’s death…from over-watering.”
BR: What plant made you want more?
“No plant has ever made me want fewer!” according to Stephen. Alea concurs: “I don’t think there was anyone plant that spawned my passion, but more so the endless variety that exists when you start to look.”
BR: What is your favorite plant?
Just like with children, Alea believes there is no favorite plant: “I love each one for different reasons. It may be the pattern on a leaf, the way it grows, it’s rarity, it’s hardiness and dependability, or even the moment in time it came into my life. Each one has its own story and each one gives back in a different way.”
BR: The secret to a thriving apartment jungle?
“Always be open to learning, and having a little dirt on the floor.” Stephen says. “Invest in a stud-finder (they’re cheap!) so you can mount, hang and adorn plants all over your home! You can learn from study, experience and conversation—take time to pick the brains for your local garden shop!”
BR: What is most rewarding about being a plant owner?
Eliza says it best: “Watching them grow – a beautiful reminder about our own capabilities.”
If you weren’t already a plant parent, now you know how great it can be. Read the first edition of the People, Places and Plants series and stay tuned for more inspiring plant whisperers. In the meantime, discover the art nature can inspire by following Green Fingers Market, The Sill, Solabee Flowers & Botanicals and Sprout Home on Instagram.