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Plant your Home+Life: Interview with Plantie Sara

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

It's time to dive into a topic that is a huge design inspiration for me that can make any space come to life...plants! Plants are often the finishing touch a space needs whether in a vase or a pot, faux or real... they can definitely make a house more of a home. With their obvious vibrance and calming affect, plants give off a sense of serenity and energy. Given their need for regular care, they are usually either fully embraced or avoided altogether. With the proper lighting and room conditions, caring for plants can be simple and enjoyable with a little bit of knowledge and some tools in your belt!

This interview with a dear friend, a lover of plants and people, has been a dream of mine for the past few months. There is nothing better than connecting with other creatives, and I couldn't think of a better resource than Sara when it comes to the topic of plants. My hope is that you would feel encouraged, inspired, and a little more confident when it comes to adding greenery to your home+life after reading this blog. You can follow Sara's Instagram @plantiesara for tips and solutions where she makes herself available to any plant questions you may have!

In the meantime, let's dive into the inside scoop she has to share with us!

How have plants personally affected you in your home+life?

One of the reasons I got into houseplants was for decor! They really do bring me joy! I like the feeling of taking care of something and seeing it thrive. I first got into houseplants during the pandemic when we were all locked inside our homes, but they provided me with a safe and fun hobby! Now that we're moving back towards normal life, I love propagating and sharing plants with friends! I enjoy being able to give plant advice and help others with their plant care over on my Instagram @plantiesara :) I also love the color and texture that plants bring to your space. Green is my favorite so maybe I'm slightly partial, but I love my Raven ZZ and Ficus Burgundy for their dark hues, and Hoyas for their pink hues! I love the fact that plants help purify our air! NASA did a study on this years ago and it's great to know that plants can benefit our health just by being in our house!

What are some of your favorite plants?

I have about 50 plants in my house. It sounds like a lot but I promise it isn't that overwhelming. I love plants with easy care that can also liven up a room. Pothos and Philodendron are my favorite trailing plants. They can grow very long in a short amount of time and they're easy to propagate! The Monstera and Ficus are also a favorite of mine for some taller statement plants.

How do you choose a plant for a space?

Knowing the placement of where you're putting a plant before purchasing is always helpful. We want to try and mimic a plant's "natural" environment within our homes in terms of light. You can use the compass app on your phone to determine which direction your windows are facing and approximate how many feet away from the window a plant will be. I always recommend looking at the care requirements of a plant before buying it for your space. If the plant of your choice requires lots of light, but you only have a north facing window, that plant will not last very long. Some great low-light plant options are Spider Plants, Monstera, Pothos, Philodendron, Snake Plants, and the Raven ZZ.

What is the easiest and hardest thing when it comes to taking care of houseplants?

In my opinion, the hardest thing when it comes to taking care of houseplants can also become the easy and more enjoyable with time. It really does take time to learn how plants operate - they are living organisms with needs and habits. The more time you spend taking care of them, the more you learn their quirks and preferences. I can honestly say that after two years of owning houseplants, it really is fun and easy to take of most of my plants! I will say that there are certain houseplants that are very particular about their care. They can be very finicky so I tend to stay away from those.

Which tools would you recommend when caring for houseplants?

The tools I use pretty consistently are a watering can and pruning scissors. Moisture meters can also be helpful for those who have trouble gauging when to water their plants.

How hard is it to revive a dying plant?

When it comes to reviving plants, if it isn't an issue with pests, it probably has to do with the roots. Get comfortable pulling your plant out of your pot and checking out your roots periodically. Healthy roots are firm and can be white, yellow, or red depending on the plant! Root rot looks like brown or black mushy roots and can often smell.

Is there a general rule of thumb for plant care?

Some plants like Pothos will visibly wilt when they want water and String of Hearts look and feel wrinkly when they're thirsty. But some plants won't show signs at all. The best method in my opinion is to check the soil. I stick a finger into the soil and if it's still moist I know that it's not time to water yet. Overwatering is the most common reason for dying plants so you want to make sure you get this right!

When it comes to gauging a plant's water and light needs, we want to know the plant's origin. For example, a Peace Lily naturally grows in the canopy area of the rainforest. Therefore, it cannot handle harsh bright light and it needs consistent moisture. In contrast, Snake Plants and succulents are native to dry and rocky terrain. Their leaves are thick and succulent to hold water so they can go for long periods until the next rainfall. We mimic this is our homes by only watering when the soil is completely dry. Always do your research!!

How do you manage little flies that begin to roam because of your plants?

Fungus gnats are drawn to damp soil and they lay eggs in it so you're usually dealing with several generations of flies...gross! I buy yellow sticky traps to catch the adults. They are drawn to the bright yellow color and then get stuck and cannot escape. For the eggs, I use Mosquito Bits. You soak them in water and then use that water to water your plant! Very easy!

How do you know if you’re overwatering vs. under-watering?

There are key differences that you see in the leaves and roots.

Overwatered plant leaves can display soft brown spots usually in the middle of the leaves. While under-watered plant leaves get brown and crispy, usually starting with the edges. Ultimately the roots are the best way to check the health of your plant. Overwatered roots will be brown or black and mushy. This is because the damp soil suffocates the roots by not allowing oxygen to flow through. Under-watered roots will look dehydrated and thin. If left on a plant, dehydrated roots will eventually rot.

Which plants can be easily propogated?

Pothos, scindapsus, and hoyas can easily be propogated, or regrown in water! Just make sure there's a node (often a knob on the plant stem) in the water and you'll have roots within a couple of weeks.

3 Tips for propogating would be:

1. Don't be afraid to try different methods! There are so many ways to propagate: water, sphagnum moss, perlite, leca (clay pebbles), etc. It's so interesting to see which plants prefer which method.

2. Adding humidity can speed up your propagation process! When rooting in sphagnum moss, I'll place cuttings in a plastic box or even a ziploc bag!

3. Be patient! Roots can take weeks to form. Don't place your plants in soil unless you have at least 1-2 inches of roots.

What advice would you share when first starting out with live plants?

Start small and learn how to do plant care well. It can be tempting to buy big plants at first or just buy a ton, because they're pretty and it's fun! But I suggest just getting a few smaller plants and really learn how to take care of them so you don't get overwhelmed. I love pretty much all Pothos varieties and most of them are pretty low maintenance. Ficus Elastica varieties are also pretty low key!

I hope this was informative and encouraging that wherever you are in your plant journey, that it's never too late to start and it can even become a fun hobby! Which plants are some of your favorite? Do you need help selecting a plant for your space? Do you have more plant questions? Comment below and follow @plantiesara on Instagram!

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