This week we talked to Hong-Ah (@myhappyhouseplant) about her plant collection and how she keeps it happy and healthy.
WATER & LIGHT (W&L): HOW DID YOU GET INTO PLANTS?
Hong-Ah (H): I’ve always loved plants, but thought I wasn’t good at keeping them. Last year I went through a rough patch and needed an outlet to organize my thoughts and what I was feeling. Caring for my plants gave me a way to refocus my energy into something positive.
W&L: DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU GOT YOUR FIRST HOUSEPLANT AND WHAT PLANT WAS IT?
H: A little goldfish plant that I named Gino and them promptly killed via neglect. Whoops.
W&L: WHERE DO YOU GET MOST OF YOUR PLANTS?
H: Local nurseries in my area and also through friends!
W&L: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLANT SHOPS TO VISIT?
H: The Merrifield Garden Centers are close by and always somewhere I make an excuse to stop by. I also love my friends at Potomac Garden Center!
W&L: HOW MANY PLANTS DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR COLLECTION?
H: Somewhere around 120 the last time I checked and I won’t be counting them ever again. I’m going to choose blissful ignorance over confronting the reality of my plant obsession hahaha.
W&L: WHAT ARE THE RAREST PLANT YOU HAVE IN YOUR COLLECTION?
H: I don’t know if they’re rare per se, but some that I have that aren’t easy to come by are my variegated monsteras, philodendron pink princess, philodendron white knight, philodendron atabapoense, cereus forbesii spiralis, raven zz, and rhaphidaphora tetrasperma.
W&L: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PLANTS?
H: My ficus pumila, Athena, is my oldest plant and definitely has my heart. But I have a big soft spot for philodendrons and hoyas.
W&L: WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT BEING A PLANT PERSON?
H: I enjoy how vast the world of plants is and how there is so much to learn. I’m someone who love research and learning, and any time I find a new plant to bring home, teaching myself the best way to care for them is a big part of the fun. Additionally, I’ve met so many wonderful people through the plant community. Some of my best friends I actually met via Instagram!
W&L: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT YOU HAVE WITH PLANTS?
H: I think my wallet has some choice words... 😉 Other than that, my biggest challenge so far has been learning to be patient. I’m a very impatient and impulsive person by nature who likes moving fast, so my plants force me to slow down and let things happen in their own time.
W&L: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR PLANT SPECIALITY?
H: I don’t know if I’d use the word specialty, but I think that I’ve learned a lot about aroid care and keeping philodendrons happy.
W&L: WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PLANT CARE TIPS?
H: 1) Do your research. Not all plants are the same and even if a plant behaves a certain way for someone, it may not for you based on light, humidity, etc. Know what your space has to offer plants and what it can’t before you commit to an expensive, impulse-buy. That’s not to say you can’t keep certain plants, but it’ll better prepare you to keep it happy and save you any heartbreak in the long run.
2) Know when and how to water. Some plants like to dry out first, some need to be bottom-watered, and others like being misted in between. It makes a huge difference when you take the time to figure the watering needs of your plants out. This was the biggest factor in me realizing that I’m not a plant killer!
3) There is no such thing as a black thumb. No one is cursed to be a plant killer. It just means that you have more learning to do! Don’t get discouraged and give up. Ask questions, do your research, and be patient.