Interview with @womengrowingplants
Women Growing Plants is a plant-centric instagram account based in San Francisco, CA that gives the inside scoop on having a crazy houseplant collection with lots and lots of succulents. This plant collector started her instagram page in order to create a platform for people to share their love of plants and learn from one another. We can get down with that!
*some answers have been altered for length & clarity*
When did you start getting into plants/gardening?
"I’ve always loved nature and have a lot of respect for the natural world. I got into more types of plants when I studied abroad in New Zealand in 2016. I started getting into growing my own plants when I moved from New England to Northern California in 2017. I was amazed at the fact I could grow various types of plants year round. The weather where I live is fantastic for growing plants, especially succulents. When I moved to San Francisco, I started propagating more plants because I wanted a greener apartment. I missed being outside and wanted to bring the outdoors into my living space."
At the root of it all (get it?) is a deep desire to take care of things and bring the outside indoors.
"Especially now that I am working from home, I really love having the plants to take care of. I love that they bring the outdoors indoors, and I love how they challenge me sometimes. I have to keep trying and supporting the plants in new ways in order for them to thrive."
(One of her favorite plants, affectionately named Polly Pothos :)
Like many of us, @womengrowingplants first saw finances as a hurdle to their growing collection... enter propagation!
"I eventually learned how to propagate plants and have saved a lot of money that way. I now see taking care of plants as a really inexpensive hobby. I also rescue many plants that I find on the sidewalks in San Francisco. When friends move out of state, they give me their plants to take care of too (which I very much appreciate!!)
What she found was that being a plant parent is actually a super affordable hobby and there is lots of room to be creative.
"When it comes to finding new plants for my apartment, I will either rescue one that is on the sidewalk, or visit one of the local nurseries."
We can all relate with the feelings of wasting money & time on a dead plant, and she remembers this first experience well:
"I remember being really sad the first time a plant died. It made me not want to invest time and money into a new one. When I got better at taking care of them, I also started to realize that you can always keep trying with plants! Sometimes a plant may look dead, but you move it to a new window and in a few weeks it's looking healthy again."
What to do when succulents get bugs:
(And when they just won't go away.)
"The worst was when one of my biggest succulents got bugs. I spent a month cleaning it and doing new things (wiping leaves, using neem oil, etc), but nothing worked. I was really sad to get rid of the plant. I saved a few of the tops of the succulents to try propagating into a new plant, but even that failed. This one particular succulent is really difficult for me!
What this experience taught me is that sometimes you need to be real with yourself and make a hard decision. I could see the plant was not doing well and that the bugs were just getting worse (and potentially about to infect other plants), and I should have gotten rid of it earlier. I really encourage everyone to keep trying, but sometimes you have to make a difficult decision."
It can be hard to say goodbye to a plant, but when they are really sick and not responsive, it's okay to call it a day.
Her succulent game is STRONG. She finds that succulents are actually easier for her to grow than conventional houseplants, even though most people feel the opposite!
Her method to keeping succulents alive:
"I’ve been successful at keeping succulents because I don’t give up on them. I repot them, move them, get them new dirt...basically I experiment until it looks happy again." A good rule of thumb for life in general, really.
I’ve packed leaves and parts of succulents in my suitcase and flown from Connecticut to California, and then planted the succulents, and they are still alive today. It’s so incredible."
In fact, her favorite succulent is one that has been passed down through the family, from a second-generation cutting of her great aunt's 50 year-old Christmas Cactus. It is just starting to flower this year!
Gardening tips from this tried & true tiny gardener:
1 - Don't water plants too much! I mostly use a spray-bottle when watering plants and this helps ensure that I don’t overwater the plants and that I am hitting the dirt. Many of my succulents suffer when too much water gets on their leaves.
(Editor's note: "The Dewdrop" Mister is made for watering succulents & other picky plants perfectly!)
2 - If your plant dies, it doesn’t mean you are a bad plant parent! Sometimes plants just don’t make it. Try again, and use new techniques with your plants. It’s all a learning experience.
3 - Reach out to others for help! I’m big on research, but sometimes simply asking someone for advice can be more helpful than databases." We couldn't agree more!
We hope you found this interview as helpful and inspiring as we did. We love the way that @WomenGrowingPlants is intentional about caring for her plants and creating a calming environment for her work-from-home life (as are many people right now!) Plant care = self care, amiright?
If you loved this interview, check out others from our series here!