This week we talked to Jess Marsman (@jessicasjungle) from Hudsonville, MI about her impressive plant collection that consists of 180 plants (and growing).

Water & Light Plant Shop The Plant PeopleⓇ Blog Jess

Water & Light (W&L): How did you get into plants?

Jess (J): I have worked for a floral wholesaler since 2009 and, in doing so, my love for all things green has grown tremendously! I didn’t grow up in a home that appreciated plants so it’s definitely been an amazing hobby to get into and learn about – I learn something new every day!

W&L: Do you remember when you got your first plant and what plant was it?

J: My very first plant was a cactus of some sort. I was probably 12, paid for it with my own money, and kept it in my room. Unfortunately I took “water sparingly” a little too literally and actually killed it by NOT watering it enough.

W&L: Where do you get most of your plants?

J: I’d say I’m about half and half between finding my plants in local greenhouses (and even our local grocery stores – Meijer – have an AMAZING selection) and ordering online. It’s funny because a year ago, I was terrified to make my first online plant order … and it was terrible! But I tried again (and again and again) and I’ve only had 2 or 3 bad experiences in all, so online is definitely an option I enjoy.

W&L: What are your favorite plant shops to visit?

J: I LOVE Hyacinth House in Lansing, MI and Flowerland in Kentwood, MI. My husband is also kind enough to take me to the Chicago-area every once in awhile and I really enjoy Plant Shop Chicago, Sprouts, Ted’s Greenhouse, and Gethsemane.

W&L: How many plants do you have in your collection?

J: The last I counted I was at around 180 (but I’m still growing! There’s definitely room for more!)

W&L: What are the rarest plants that you have in your collection?

J: Ooh, that’s a tough one – I don’t keep the best tabs on what’s the rarest – it seems like there’s always something new I’m hunting for and can’t find! I am fortunate enough, though, to have a Variegated Monstera Deliciosa, a Pink Princess Philodendron, a Philodendron Gloriosum, and a Hoya Callistophylla that are pretty awesome.

Water & Light Plant Shop The Plant PeopleⓇ Blog Jess

W&L: What are some of your favorite plants?

J: Definitely my Philodendron Gloriosum and my plain, green Hoya Carnosa! They have been such easy and rewarding plants to keep – constantly shooting out new growth. I also LOVE African Violets!

W&L: What do you like the most about being a plant person?

J: I love how rewarding the hobby is. We are keeping things alive! We are constantly experimenting with care tactics and, in this wonderful IG plant community, sharing our results. It’s very relaxing and therapeutic. If I have a rough day, I’ll go wander around a greenhouse to unwind – works every time.

W&L: What are some of the challenges that you have with plants?

J: Ughhh, pests! There’s nothing worse than finding nasty little bugs when you’re making your plant rounds. Lighting is also a constant struggle (especially during these winter months). I’m in the process of adding several grow lights to my setup, so that should help tremendously.

W&L: What would you say is your plant specialty?

J: I think I would have to say African Violets. Even though they’re not the most popular plant right now, I love them. I have over 40 and can’t get over how much variety there is within the species. I always say there’s an African Violet out there for EVERYONE.

W&L: What are your top 3 plant care tips?

J: My top 3 plant care tips would be:

  1. Never give up! We’ve all killed things! That doesn’t make us blackthumbs. Those experiences are just part of the lessons of becoming a greenthumb.
  2. Focus more on reading your plants rather than the care tags they come with. Most plants tell you what they want and need if you just learn to watch for their cues. When I started this hobby, I focused WAY too much on doing what I thought I was supposed to do, rather than just feeling my way through the care.
  3. Share your failures, as well as your successes! Nobody expects anyone to be perfect all the time and I have found I have the most opportunities to learn when I post about failures and shortcomings. I’m striving to learn to be the best plant mom I can be, and that definitely includes talking about my failures.

Water & Light Plant Shop The Plant PeopleⓇ Blog Jess

 Check out Jess' Instagram page for beautiful pictures of her plant collection and super useful tips. 


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