This week we talked to Julian from Woodside, Queens about his plant addiction.
"My name is Julian and I am addicted to plants. Wait, this isn’t that kind of interview is it? Just kidding, but really - I do have a plant addiction."
WATER & LIGHT (W&L): HOW DID YOU GET INTO PLANTS?
Julian (J): I was trying to figure out the best way to reduce stress from my personal and work life. I spoke to a colleague and friend about building a “zen” corner in my apartment. They suggested buying some plants for this “zen” corner to help with stress and relaxation. I did some research on which plants were easy to care for and reasons why they are great to have. One specific article that really caught my attention was “Why Do Indoor Plants Make You Feel Better” by Sophie Lee. It explained the benefits of having plants and how you should care for them.
After reading this article, I was curious to see if indoor plants could really generate happiness and relaxation for their owners. I asked a very close friend Tori (@daaangtori) about her experience with plants and why she has so many (which I eventually surpassed). She concurred that her plants definitely added quality to the air and brought her a sense of relief from the stresses of the day. She also said they are great apartment décor if you take care of them, ha!
After some thought, I decided it was time to get my first set of plants. I took a trip into Jackson Heights where I found a cute little plant shop. From then on, I realized the plant article by Sophie Lee was in fact very true. I felt more relaxed, I was able to sleep better due to better oxygen flow and felt such peace when escaping the crazy city that is New York. These plants initially started as a “Zen” corner, but eventually grew into a “Zen” apartment! I kept buying and buying until I created my own urban jungle.
W&L: DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU GOT YOUR FIRST PLANT AND WHAT PLANT IT WAS?
J: Exactly one year ago I decided to buy a set of plants for this Zen corner I was building. I figured I needed more than just one plant, so I bought several. My first set of plants were a Money tree, a snake plant, a Croton, and a Red Aglaonema. Unfortunately, 2 of the 4 are no longer with us (oh root rot!).
W&L: WHERE DO YOU GET MOST OF YOUR PLANTS?
J: ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE!
When I’m walking down city streets I’m always looking for new plants to add to my collection. If I don’t have time I check out websites like The Sill and Leaf and Clay. When I need a plant pot or want to look for random plants, I go to the Home Depot. Dahing florist/gift shop is also a great shop that I like to visit after work for some rare plants. I also have a “plant dealer” who goes to nursery’s and finds some really rare plants! She reaches out when she has something that I might like (check her out @metta.roots).
W&L: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLANT SHOPS TO VISIT?
J: Right now, my favorite store is based in NYC Chinatown called Dahing florist/gift shop. One of the reasons I love this store is because it is so close to work. Sometimes when I’m having a really rough day, I take a quick stroll to that shop--as it is therapy for me. As I mentioned before, I can find some super rare plants for a really great price. (I have bought many of my floor plants there).
W&L: HOW MANY PLANTS DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR COLLECTION?
J: I have a total of 90 Plants and counting (I had more, but winter and overwatering can be a killer). People ask me when is enough? Honestly, I think it is when I run out of space in my apartment. I am trying to create a massive urban jungle!
W&L: WHAT ARE THE RAREST PLANTS THAT YOU HAVE IN YOUR COLLECTION?
J: I would say my rarest plants are my Alocasia Regal Shields (Elephant Ear), Monstera deliciosa, Oxalis Tail, and the String of Hearts. All bought at different locations.
W&L: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PLANTS?
J: I love all my plants, but I would have to say my favorite is my Alocasia Regal Shields elephant ear. It is just so grand and beautiful to me. People say plants have personality and you can tell my Alocasia knows she looks amazing and is phenomenal.
W&L: WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT BEING A PLANT PERSON?
J: What I enjoy most about being a plant person is the therapeutic value of being around my plants in addition to meeting people in the plant community who share the same feelings as I do. We are all trying to figure out the best ways to take care of our precious plant babies! Green plants bring a certain peace to everyone. Living in such a crazy city like New York, you want to go home to a positive and therapeutic environment. Adding plants to your home really helps build a safe and relaxing vibe for you to wind down after a crazy day. The feeling of a forest in an urban environment is really special. It's certainly from the clean air they bring into the space. Remember, plants make people happy!
W&L: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU HAVE WITH PLANTS?
J: Luckily I have not dealt with any plant pests (yet) but for me, overwatering is a huge challenge. I am still relatively new to plant care and at times make the mistake of overwatering some of my plants (R.IP. to all my succulents).
I have invested in a moisture meter which helps, but when I see a drooping plant--and my meter says the soil is not completely dry--I get a little too excited and water anyways. Of course I have learned to control the watering. I have gone through too much heartbreak of seeing some of my plants die this way.
W&L: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR PLANT SPECIALTY?
J: I really love caring for plants that get super emotional and sensitive when you don’t water them, such as the Fittonia - Nerve plant. It reminds me that there is actual life in this little bowl of dirt and they get depressed when they do not get the attention they need. When they are sad you know they are sad. When they are happy you know they are happy.
W&L: WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PLANT CARE TIPS?
J: 1. Always do research on the plant you're buying. For example, learning if your plant does better in filtered water vs to tap could be a HUGE lifesaver. Or, if you have bought a low light plant and put it in a spot with direct sunlight, you could burn that baby to death!
2. Get yourself a moisture meter! Overwatering is a huge plant killer (trust me, I have killed a lot of succulents and some plants). When watering your plants, play some music and talk to them. This can also be super therapeutic for you too.
3. When you are happy your plants are happy, they can tell. I feel like plants can feel vibrations and energy. How do I know this? Ever come back from a trip and find a couple of your plant’s dead? It is because they missed you (ok or you forgot to water them before you left). But, from what I have noticed, my plants tend to do better when I am around. So be attentive and show your plants some love!