Interview with Jem from @plant_betch
A plant mom hailing from Boston, MA, Jem is one of the many apartment gardeners who looked to plants during her time in quarantine to boost her mood and improve her surroundings!
*some answers have been altered for length & clarity*
Let's learn a little more about her tiny-gardening experience:
When did you get into houseplants?
"I’ve always liked plants! My Grandmother is a professional flower arranger and has had her work posted in a few publications. So I guess I’ve been interested in plants from a young age, but I actually didn’t even own a plant until I had to quarantine due to Covid! When the world shut down in March I started ordering plants to improve my mood. After I bought the first couple online from a local plant shop, my interest just grew and grew.
I find most of my plant inspiration from Pinterest, plant books (I have many), blogs, Youtube, and the thousands of plant accounts I follow on Instagram."
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What were some of the hurdles you faced as a first time plant parent?
"There have been many hurdles! I unknowingly had been overwatering almost all my plants to start. I realized this about a month into my plant journey, through many hours spent researching why my plants were dying. I thought I was being attentive but they were literally drowning from too much love!
I have had many major plant fails! I quickly learned over watering will always kill your plants!"
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What is something you love most about your plant collection?
"What I love most about plants is watching them grow and the whole process behind that. Basically all the plant care that leads to having beautiful healthy plants. My collection of plants inspires me by knowing the care I put towards them each day will lead to their success in the future. This is true for plants and many other aspects of life."
Do you have any plant care routines that your plants would die without?
"Finding the right balance when it comes to watering and providing light. But this isn't always enough, as plants need the right amount of humidity! I leave humidifiers on next to my plants constantly. The moisture in the air is key, especially for Ferns. It can get dry in the winter where I live and the days are short, so routinely ensuring the humidity levels are ideal and enough light is received is crucial. I’m always checking water levels for the soil."
What are some of your easiest plants to care for and which ones are the real divas?
"The easiest plants to grow for me (and probably everyone); cacti. They are low maintenance and left in the sun grow like crazy. There are two plants that are major divas. The first is the Fiddle-Leaf Figs. They need everything (light, temperature, moisture in the air, an exact amount of water, and fertilizer) to be perfect in order to thrive. The second plant is a Boston Fern. It needs to be damp basically all the time. So these two are super picky about their living conditions.
I source my plants from small businesses. I love supporting my local plant shops and when I travel I like to buy plants from unique plant shops all over America."
Love that you shop local! Did you know we're a women-owned small business, based in Queens NYC? Shop small and beautify your garden space!
Do you name your plants? No judgement here!
"I have names for many of my plants but not all. My first plant I named Bamboo Bobby, he’s a beautiful tall Bamboo Palm. My second plant I also named, Vern the Fern but sadly he passed on! Tragic. I won’t bore you with the names of all my plants, but there is a lot.
The plant I have had the longest is Bamboo Bobby. I did however buy a large Monstera Deliciosa from a nursery, where the owner told me she had been growing her for over 5 years! So I guess she’s my oldest plant."
Lastly, do you have any pieces of advice for beginner houseplant parents?
"Look up how large your plant will grow in the next couple of years. Some plants grow crazy quick and before you know it your apartment is a jungle. Another tip for newbies is don’t get discouraged if your first few plants die. Gardening a lot of time is trial and error. I’m somewhat of a newbie myself, but with the right focus I have an apartment full of thriving plants. You’ve got this!!!!!"
Thanks for the tips and encouragement, Jem! Caring for plants requires a lot of focus and dedication, but watching them thrive is truly rewarding. Apartment Gardeners everywhere salute you.