More Than Just Plants (Part 2)

How do plant parents view their plants?

By Demie Makamache / 7 January 2022

More Than Just Plants (Part 2)Are you an avid plant grower too? Source: Man of Many.

  • What does it mean to be a plant parent? Do you sometimes question your role when taking care of your plants?
  • Read on to learn from these amazing plant enthusiasts and their views on being plant parents.

Welcome back, plant lovers! As we continued our quest in search for answers regarding being a plant parent, we were inspired by the individuality in our interviewees and how despite being in different walks of life, they all shared the same passions for their plant babies. We are appreciative to the plant community for welcoming us and answering various questions that extended our perspective. If you missed the first piece, you could catch up by reading it here (insert part 1 link).

 

1/ Lone Wong: @aloneinoasis

More Than Just Plants (Part 2)

I guess they’re just part of my life now – Lone.

When did you start buying plants, and why?

I started to buy plants in 2018 during the trip with my family to Cameron highlands to cultivate my daughter’s interest in plants. Instead, I‘m the one who got addicted to them and have been buying non-stop ever since.

What do they mean to you?

To be honest, they started out meaning nothing to me. I just treated them like a decorative tool to beautify my library. And things didn’t go according to my plan; they started out dying slowly. I panicked and started to study about them. Now my garden is fully transformed into an oasis for me. Hence my Instagram handle is Alone in Oasis. Because most of the time, I would like to retreat to my “oasis” to do my garden work all alone without disturbing myself and to meditate.

What’s a typical day in life as a plant parent?

Repot, Trimming, Repot, Trimming, Propagate, Repot, Trimming, Repot, Propagate. That’s a very typical day for a guy that had to grow more than 300? 500 plants? No idea, haha. 

More Than Just Plants (Part 2)

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. 

What is the most difficult challenge you have faced as a plant parent, and how did you overcome it?

Disappointment in the sense that the plants might die on us under our care. Even when you think you already know how to grow them or provide them in the best condition, they will die too under unforeseen circumstances. So, the challenge would be mindset preparations and also going with the flow.

What is the most insightful knowledge you have gained from keeping plants?

From a philosophical perspective, “Tao” is what I observed and learned from growing plants. There are several “ways” to grow plants. Nothing in the sense is the “perfect” way of growing them. Many people assume that the plant has to be grown in a certain way and try to make it as perfect as possible, but nature always overcomes it. Not to advocate permaculture here, but we have to go with the flow, observe the plant, and try our best.

What is the most expensive plant in your care?

I have plenty of them, but price-wise, I guess it will have to be the Philodendron Dean McDowell.

More Than Just Plants (Part 2)

Lone’s precious Philodendron Dean McDowell.

Describe the most stubborn plant in your care, and why do you think so? 

I would say Heliconia. They’re a marvellous plant that can thrive in a warm climate and neglect conditions. And they bloom beautifully too. You might have to keep an eye on them; they will invade space in a blink if we don’t watch them.

Have your plants served a greater purpose in your life than just being plants?

I guess they’re just part of my life now. Not to say I’m enslaved to them, but they nurtured me in the way I look at nature and the metaphysical view. Existence, theory of evolution, and the beauty of naturalism that “God” had created for us.

Do you talk to your plants? If yes, then do you believe it has a positive effect on them? What do you typically say to them?

Oh please, I don’t. I don’t think they respond like us. I’m not saying they do not “communicate”. But I’m sure they do not “talk” like us. So, yeah, I don’t talk to them. LOL

How did you create the ideal environment for your plants?

I study their natural habitat by reading a botanical paper or any available information that I can find online. But the best of all is to experiment. You will be surprised how robust and adaptive certain plants are. 

 

2/ Rayray: @rayrayplant

More Than Just Plants (Part 2)

I’m glad that I found peace and happiness from my plant babies – Rayray.

When did you start buying plants, and why?

I started in 2018. I grew microgreens as my start-up business, but it got repetitive, and I stumbled upon houseplants accounts on Instagram, which is how I got interested in plants. So I bought a couple of plants from a local nursery to make me feel like I’m growing things instead of just harvesting for profit. 

What do they mean to you?

They are currently my full-time job and my hobby. I like collecting and exploring different species of plants, learning about their natural habitat, and trying to mimic them in my greenhouse and terrarium. 

What’s a typical day in life as a plant parent?

Each morning I will check up on all of them and see which is doing well and bad. I would do my pest control and take nice pictures of them during this time and throughout the day. So I will select the bad ones to be rescued and pick a few to be propagated or re-pot. Then I water them in the evening. It feels incredible because I witness how certain plants grow and observe their beauty along the journey.

What is the most difficult challenge you have faced as a plant parent, and how did you overcome it?

The most difficult challenge is providing the required conditions for some plants that require special care and attention. Different plants, although in the same genus, will have additional requirements. Some are unknown species, making it hard for me to research their habitat and experiment with them. I take fun in doing this as it is fascinating to discover something new every time I grow them.

What is the most insightful knowledge you have gained from keeping plants?

It would be how big the world is with so many different plants. They each evolve in their unique way to adapt to their environment, and it just blew my mind when I understood certain traits that the plant developed to survive.

What is the most expensive plant in your care? 

It would be my Monstera Obliqua ‘Peruvian form’.

More Than Just Plants (Part 2)

Raymond’s most priced Monstera Obliqua ‘Peruvian form’.

Describe the most stubborn plant in your care, and why do you think so? 

My Anthurium Cutucuense, it’s a highland Anthurium species that is super challenging for me to grow. It lost all its leaves and still did not grow a single new leaf. I believe I’m not giving it the temperature needed as it requires a temperature between 15°C to 25°C. I would need to put it in a terrarium in my air-conditioned room.

Have your plants served a greater purpose in your life than just being plants?

Yes, it helped me get through my depression of being unable to find a job after graduating. It was a low point in my life, and I’m glad that I found peace and happiness from my plant babies.

Do you talk to your plants? If yes, then do you believe it has a positive effect on them? What do you typically say to them?

No, I do not. It will take quite some time now since I have almost 2000 pots of plants. But If I could, I would say, thanks for being there for me when I need you and please be good and grow well for me.

More Than Just Plants (Part 2)

I take fun in doing this as it is fascinating to discover something new every time I succeed in growing them.

How did you create the ideal environment for your plants?

I have several different strategies for it. And it can be separated into several factors such as humidity, temperature, lighting and planting medium. In Malaysia, we are lucky to have an average humidity of 50% to 90% depending on where you live, suitable for growing an extensive range of tropical plants outdoors. 

For those that require constant high humidity, I’ve used a humidifier to help maintain the humidity. For those requiring lower temperatures, I’ve recently installed a power-saving air conditioner in one of my rooms to help regulate the temperature—I’ve grown some of the highland species. I have natural sunlight for lighting and covered with a 50% shade net for my greenhouse, and I’ve installed grow lights for my indoor air-conditioned room’s plants. Lasting, depending on the growth habit of the plant, I adjusted my growing medium accordingly. 

3/Jeff: @one_man_house

More Than Just Plants (Part 2)

When did you start buying plants, and why?

I started to buy plants when I moved to a new apartment in Feb 2019. I rented this unit because of its roofless balcony that gives me plenty of sunlight. I always wanted to grow plants but could not do so due to my previous job that required travel all the time.

What do they mean to you?

They make me happy, relaxed, calm and reduce my stress. My tiny garden is my green sanctuary. It’s my refuge from the outside world.

What’s a typical day in life as a plant parent?

I wish I could say growing a plant is as easy it seems. I need to water my plants when the soil is dried, constantly checking for pests and growth—every day is filled with different tasks and challenges. Apart from all the work, I will sit in my garden and enjoy the greenery, especially after a long workday. 

What is the most difficult challenge you have faced as a plant parent, and how did you overcome it?

Space! I wish I had a huge space to grow many plants. My plants have become super big now, and I will need to cut to maintain the size. Luckily, most of my plants can be propagated into new plants, and I will just sell them and earn some extra money to buy more plants (laughs)! To overcome the space issue and the constant adding of new plants, I will plan which and what plant I want, refrain from impulse buying, and focus on growing the best looking specimen in my garden! I’m using shelves to display the plants at different heights, every space counts! Plus, I grow my plants vertically by using a moss pole. Some giants don’t need much space since they are taking the space above me. Provide shade for smaller plants.

What is the most insightful knowledge you have gained from keeping plants?

I didn’t realise how disconnected I was from nature until I started to grow plants! I have to space out some time for my green babies, which has taught me time management, patience & planning. I wasn’t a great planner and always rushed to finish a task/ job before this. Growing plants makes me realise that to enjoy the process and nothing is worth rushing.

What is the most expensive plant in your care?

I got my Philodendron Majestic for more than RM1k! And the price dropped drastically RIGHT AFTER I got mine! Like, RM300 to RM500.

More Than Just Plants (Part 2)

Jeff’s most expensive plant, the Philodendron Majestic. 

Describe the most stubborn plant in your care, and why do you think so?
Aristolochia Leuconeura. I grew mine from seeds, and it is one of the divas in my garden. Very prone to pest attack, and it will die without a sign.

Have your plants served a greater purpose in your life than just being plants?

They are my companions during the never-ending lockdown! I spend my day and night with them and learn more about them. Each plant has its personality, some are real divas, and some are friendly and easygoing. You need to observe and learn about their growing pattern. I can say that I have been fortunate to have had their company for the past two years, and they kept me busy while most of my friends were complaining about how boring they were during the MCO. 

Do you talk to your plants? If yes, then do you believe it has a positive effect on them? What do you typically say to them?

OF COURSE! I’m not sure it positively affects the plants, but I believe they can “sense” your vibe! I believe all plant parents talk to their green babies!

More Than Just Plants (Part 2)

Each plant has its personality…you just need to observe and learn about their growing pattern.

How did you create the ideal environment for your plants?

All my plants are aroids native to tropical and growing underneath the tree canopy that loves humidity, shaded environments, and well-draining potting mix. I create the same climate on my balcony using an orchid net to provide bright but dappled sunlight. Spray the leaves during watering to pump up the humidity and use an extra porous potting mix containing charcoal, coco chips, pumice, perlite, wood chips & some gardening soil. I also give my climbing aroid a moss pole to climb to imitate their natural environment where they climb up to trees for support to reach better sunlight. 

Keep going and keep growing

In a world as vast as the plant world, where the limits are endless, and there is never a right or wrong, the answer is to keep going. With every shoot comes a new life, a new opportunity and a better tomorrow. There is no single best way of becoming “the best gardener”, but we learn as we grow. Never forget to be-leaf in yourself!

Looking for more related article? Check them out here:

More than just plants (part 1)

 

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