This week we talked to Alessia from New York who has 180 plants in her collection.
WATER & LIGHT (W&L): HOW DID YOU GET INTO PLANTS?
ALESSIA (A): I was drawing plants in high school, including plant imagery in my illustrations and artwork. From there, I started incorporating plants and their forms into my sculptures in college. Finally, when I started working from home I decided I wanted to embark on my journey of rare plant collecting and care.
W&L: DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU GOT YOUR FIRST PLANT AND WHAT PLANT WAS IT?
A: I used to build a lot of terrariums, so I believe it was my Mammillaria gracilis (pincushion cactus) that I still have to this day.
W&L: WHERE DO YOU GET MOST OF YOUR PLANTS?
A: I used to get a lot of my plants from the plant district, here in NYC, but now I mainly source all my plants online.
W&L: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLANT SHOPS TO VISIT?
A: I love strolling into my local shop, The Sill. I love the pottery there! I also enjoy visiting the New York Botanical Gardens Shop, they tend to have unique plants available.
W&L: HOW MANY PLANTS DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR COLLECTION?
A: I currently have about 180 plants. Mostly Philodendrons.
W&L: WHAT ARE THE RAREST PLANTS THAT YOU HAVE IN YOUR COLLECTION?
A: Since I enjoy collecting aroids I have a few rare beauties in my collection. Aglaonema pictum tricolor, Variegated Philodendron billietiae, Philodendron patriciae, Philodendron melanochrysum and Anthurium regale.
W&L: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PLANTS?
A: My current favorite in the apartment is my Anthurium Veitchii ‘narrow form’ and my Caladium ‘Thai beauty’.
W&L: WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT BEING A PLANT PERSON?
A: There are a few different aspects I like about being a plant parent. I love when I find and collect rare plants from around the world. I enjoy the fact that when people come and visit my apartment they are most likely seeing a plant they’ve never seen or might not ever see again. I also really love the plant community. At the end of the day I get to say I made lifelong friends simply for sharing a passion for plants.
W&L: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT YOU HAVE WITH PLANTS?
A: What are some of the challenges that you have with plants? I think most challenging aspect to plant parenting is when your plants get pests, like mites or thrips. It becomes even harder when you have a large collection to protect. So I would say keeping on top of pest control is probably one of the hardest aspects of the hobby.
W&L: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR PLANT SPECIALITY?
A: I really love propagating and conducting different methods of propagation to see what works best for different plants.
W&L: WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PLANT CARE TIPS?
1. Take the time to learn what your plant is and what needs it may have to make that particular plant happy.
2. When you’re bringing in a new plant check it for hitchhikers (pests). Even if you don’t see anything it’s always a good idea to isolate the plant before you place it among your plant population.
3. Have patience when you first bring a plant home. Give it time to acclimate to its new space.