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We recently teamed up with Trinity Shi of @cubehousejungle to help refresh her plant-filled living room with modern décor. With 150-200 plants in her home (!!!), we asked Trinity for some tips on how to be the best plant parent.

What sparked your interest in plants?

I’ve always had a few plants indoors as decor, and I was a casual plant parent for a while. A little over two years ago, my husband and I bought our first home. Our house has lots of windows which gave me a reason to buy more plants. This caused me to research plant types and plant care, and started me down the path of serious plant collecting.

How many plants do you have in your home?

It varies between 150-200, since I’m always propagating cuttings and trading with other plant collectors. Some of my plants are quite large and take up more space, so I try not to clutter them. It is possible to have too many plants, so I try to keep my collection to a nice, manageable size where I don’t have to stress over maintenance.

Any advice for beginners?

First, figure out the lighting situation at your home, and choose plants with those light requirements. For example, if you have low-medium light, start with easier plants like snake plants (Sansevieria), Chinese Evergreens (Aglaonema) or a zz plant. Make sure you plant in pots with drainage, and do NOT overwater!  You can google specific plant care on most plants and there are lots of helpful tips on YouTube.

Don’t be afraid to fail. It might take some trial and error to find out what plants will work best in your home. Even the best plant parents have killed a few plants. The most important thing is to turn those mistakes into learning experiences. I learned that I tend to do extremely well with philodendrons but am horrible with calatheas.

Do you have a favorite plant?

It’s difficult to pick just one! I’ll have to go with my giant variegated monstera. I grew it from a cutting and now it’s almost five feet tall! It makes me feel like a proud plant parent.

Do you ever coordinate plants with your decor?

I like to integrate plants in every room, so I do pay attention to coordinating decor. Luckily, most plants are easy to style. I tend to mix larger solid foliage with textured or smaller decorative foliage to create visual interest. I also like to style them at various heights, like hanging trailing plants from the ceiling and placing larger plants below.

Do you have any basic tips for propagating?

Start propagating some easy plant cuttings in water first. Pothos is a starter plant. Look up what a node is – this is a part of the stem where the leaves and branches grow out of, and is crucial for general propagation. Place at least one node of the stem in water and place in a bright spot like a window sill, but away from direct sun. Be patient and don’t be afraid to experiment with different rooting mediums. Other than water, you can try perlite, sphagnum moss, or clay pellets known as LECA.

What plant is easiest to care for? The most difficult?

I can only speak from personal experience. The easiest plants I have in my collection are probably my Monstera deliciosa or my rubber tree (Ficus elastica). I just water them when the soil is dry and give them bright light. They are vigorous growers and extremely low maintenance. I don’t really have any difficult plants, but I have some that are finicky. My most finicky plant is probably my Aglaonema pictum tricolor.  It’s an uncommon or hard-to-find variety with leaves that look like camo print. They like high humidity and chunky soil to maintain their beautiful foliage, but the older leaves yellow quite easily.

Any tips for repotting plants?

Most tropical indoor plants love well-draining soil. Make sure you get a good indoor mix. If you’re feeling fancy, you can add extra perlite, horticultural charcoal, and some orchid bark. Always plant in a container with drainage, and don’t plant in too large of a container. Choose a pot that’s 1-2 inches larger in diameter than your previous pot. Planting into too large of a pot will cause the soil to remain wet for too long and may lead to root rot. You’ll know it’s time to repot when you see roots poking out the bottom of the drainage hole.

What plants are good for adding color and interest to a mostly green plant collection? 

My favorite is the Philodendron Pink Princess, but it’s still difficult to find in the U.S. I recommend something easier like Aglaonema Lady Valentine or Tradescantias, which come in a variety of colors. There’s also the Begonia maculata (polka dot begonia), Philodendron lemon lime, or a variegated rubber tree.

Are there any flowering, low-maintenance plants?

One of my favorite easy flowering plants is the hoya. There are many different varieties of hoyas and some can be more challenging than others. The easiest hoyas I own are the bella and the carnosa varieties. As long as they get bright light, they bloom continuously over several months of the year. The carnosa blooms have a light grassy chocolate scent!

For more plant tips and inspiration follow Trinity on Instagram @cubehousejungle.

Photos by Trinity Shi

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