You know what they say about couples that grow together... plants, that is! We explored the home of plant enthusiasts Charles and Amanda to gain insight into they unbeleafable collection for the first of our The Ordinary People series.
Your house is beautiful - what inspired the both of you to start growing your home garden?
We started buying plants to bring warmth to our new home. We started with the classics - money plant, rubber plant and a fiddle leaf fig. We don’t really remember how we got from 3 to 60ish but it gradually became a common interest and led to more weekends together at the nurseries instead of Netflix on the couch.
That's a lot of plants! What's the number one mistake plant owners make?
Over watering! Don’t smother your plants! Most indoor plants only need to be watered about once a week depending on the soil and environment. Stick your finger into the soil to test before watering. If the soil is moist, leave the plant alone!
In that case... Which is each of your favourite plant and how does one take care of it?
We should not have favourite plants! It’s like saying you have a favourite child or pet!
Charles’ favourite is the monstera borsigiana albo variegata. He has 4 of them. They have a dedicated humidifer and the best spot in the house with morning light. They are very finicky and throw a tantrum if not given what they want. Out of our 60ish plants, Charles only waters the variegated monsteras and he does this very precisely with a measuring bottle. This is clearly the spoiled favourite child.
Amanda’s favourite changes with time. Right now it’s a philodendron gloriosum from Ecuador. It’s really special as it’s hard to find one with thick creamy veins and pink edges. It was the nicest one from the shipment! It currently gets morning sun, grow lights, a humidifier, regular misting and weekly dose of fertiliser.
We're sure you've had some crazy plant adventures, since you have 60plus!
We shipped plants from Thailand and got a call on a work day from AVA at 4pm saying that the plants had arrived but the office was closing at 5pm. Amanda was at the vet and only managed to leave till 4.20. She drove from Farrer Road to Lim Chu Kang in the rain to pick them up and got a speeding ticket - $500 fine and 12 demerit points! Such an irony because she rarely drives (first time in 4 months) and is usually a super slow driver.
Any special lengths you've gone to get THE plant of your choice?
It’s not easy to buy variegated monsteras in Singapore. We heard that a nursery would be getting a shipment from Japan. We left our name on the waiting list and checked with our plant friends / the nursery regularly. The shipment finally arrived on a Friday at 10am but the nursery refused to sell them to us despite many many phone calls as they were apparently “reserved”. Charles cabbed to the nursery in the middle of a work day and pestered the nursery aunty to sell it to him. It worked but he had to wait 1.5 hours for others to collect their plants. We didn’t get first dibs but still picked out a decent plant. The plant went through so much, it had root rot and thrips but finally pushed out a new leaf 2 months after we first got it.
It's great that you guys are both so equally dedicated! How did this hobby help you grow closer as a couple?
Charles is into Soccer and computer games. Amanda is into cooking and ASOS so it’s great that we found something we both liked. We spend time fussing over the plants together and figuring out how to care for the plants. It’s also a lot easier to repot plants with 2 pairs of hands! We spend time identifying wishlist plants and enjoy looking for them. We celebrate and feel really proud when our plants push out new leaves. It’s the ultimate validation for plant parents!
We met a group of plant enthusiasts on Instagram who are way more knowledgeable than us. They have much larger and impressive collections than we do. We’ve started going to nurseries together with them and doing house plant tours amongst the group. One of them lives in the same block! It’s nice to share our interests and exchange care tips in a larger group. We’ve gotten so much advice and support from the local plant community.
Any last tips on where to go to begin your own home garden?
We get our gardening supplies from the nurseries along Upper Thomson. Our favourite plant shop is Pottaplantta. Visit them if you’re new to plants and need advice on what to get for your space / lifestyle. For a one stop shop, gardeners day out happens once a month at hort park. It’s an amazing place to see plants, buy plants, talk about plants and meet plant people.
Photography by Monica Anne Lie (@luxmondi)