WATER & LIGHT (W&L): IN TERMS OF YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH WRITING YOUR BOOK, HAVING A PLANT CARE BLOG AND INSTAGRAM AS WELL AS A PLANT CARE CLIENT, WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE THE MOST REWARDING?
John(J): I love helping people learn the basics of plant care. Taking care of plants is harder than people think, particularly indoor plants. Just teaching people the basics has been awesome. What I tried to do with the book was to distill the information down to just 60 pages. I think most people are casual plant owners and they don’t want to spend their whole day taking care of their plants. I get satisfaction from helping people be successful in taking care of their plants.
W&L: HOW DID YOU GET INTO PLANTS?
J: My girlfriend bought a succulent plant in the flower district in New York and I ended up taking care of it. Then a bit later we were at the farmers' market and I bought 8 plants at once. For the most part they stayed alive and I enjoyed having plants around so I started buying more. Then I started getting into rare plants. I started buying plants on eBay, seeking out different plant shops in the city, visiting botanical gardens. I think I am a typical millennial, I got into plants to reconnect with nature. I grew up in the city but I spent my summers in Hawaii because that’s where my mom’s family is from. I think there are a lot of benefits to having plants and we can learn a lot by keeping plants in our homes.
W&L: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST BENEFITS OF HAVING PLANTS?
J: I would say taking care of plants is very meditative. It’s nice to have something alive in your house that doesn’t need to be walked. Particularly for city people who don’t have a lot of space to have a pet. Plants can be a nice in-between. I am glad that plants are back in style now.
W&L: ONE DEBATE THAT WE'VE HAD HERE IS THAT PLANTS ARE POPULAR NOW AND THEY ARE GETTING MORE POPULAR EVERY DAY... BUT WHEN WILL THEY STOP BEING SO POPULAR?
J: I think plants have to become more popular because if we don’t learn how to take care of nature we are going to die. And while houseplants' popularity might wear off, growing your food will become more and more popular.
W&L: HAVE YOU STARTED GROWING ANY EDIBLE PLANTS YET?
J: Yes, for my client I am growing cucumbers and tomatoes and some banana trees and I am going to start growing some mint and carrots. There is also a kale plant that I am taking care of. I also want to get into hydroponics because I think that’s the future.
W&L: WHERE DID YOU GET MOST OF THE CONTENT FOR YOUR BOOK AND YOUR BLOG? IS IT FROM PEOPLE ASKING YOU QUESTIONS OR YOUR PERSONAL INTERESTS?
J: It comes from questions. If I get the same questions multiple times I’ll write about those subjects.
W&L: WHAT IS YOUR PLANT SPECIALITY?
J: Succulents and cacti from Madagascar and South Africa. I find them interesting because they are like a hybrid of a cactus and a tropical plant. I know the most about them. But I love all plants.
W&L: WHAT IS YOUR SPECIALITY IN TERMS OF PLANT CARE?
J: I am good at watering. Even though I am keen on under-watering I have a trick that works really well. I put a stick in all of my plants and that’s how I know when I should water. It’s particularly good for plants that need to dry out between watering. If I take out the stick and it's dry, I know it's time to water. It’s a bonsai technique.
W&L: HOW MANY PLANTS DO YOU HAVE?
J: At home I have around 30 plants and at my client’s house it is around 60 plants.