This is the time to meet Agony Plant. She's been growing plants in dark british spaces for 6 years already and has learned a lot by trial and error!
Hi Agony Plant! It's a pleasure to have you here. Give us 50 cents about you so we can know what you do and know you a bit more.
I've lived in London for seven years where I work in media/publishing. When I'm not tending to my 44 houseplants on the fifth floor of an apartment, I'm usually cooking, loudly gossiping with a pint in hand or cycling somewhere green to escape the cityscape.
I see you like to escape from the city to be in nature, but how is your relationship with houseplants?
Apartment spaces in London tend to be dark, small and cramped, so I would purchase plants to liven up the space I was living in.
I bought my first plant here six years ago. It was a Calathea Ornata, and, as I wasn't terribly knowledgeable back then, predictably it died. Since then, I have been slowly growing my collection, learning a lot through trial and error and different living situations where light/humidity conditions vary.
The variety of plants you can get for dark spaces is not extensive. In this 6 years, how many plants have you collected by now?
I would say it's close to 50 at the moment, as I have some propagation experiments on the go.
Growing plants in different environments may have made you learn a lot. What is the best advice you can give to someone who is starting with plants?
Patience, and preparing the correct soil beforehand. Don't buy a bag of the cheap stuff.
And if you had to choose one plant between all the ones you have, which one would you choose?
I'm particularly fond of my Scindapsus Pictus Exotica. I grew it from a cutting from my old workplace (don't tell them, shhh) and have nurtured it into a beautiful adult plant.
Having around +55 plants can be complicated or chaotic for some people. Do you follow any strategy or routine to take care of them?
Not really, I care for each plant on a case-by-case basis and have found this to work more effectively. I look closely at each plant, feel the soil, inspect the leaves and give them what they need based on that.
I understand that dedicating a lot of time to each plant makes it easier to keep them alive even though it requires a lot of time. Following this approach, have you got troubles with any plant?
Thankfully I haven't killed any of mine in recent years, but generally any type of calathea can be fussy/hard.
I'm lucky that my plants are drought tolerant because I do travel quite often. Do you also travel? How do you deal with that period of time that you will not be at home for your babies?
Yes, I travel quite a lot. I'll give my plants a big drink beforehand and, unless they're a particularly thirsty tropical, they'll be fine for up to two weeks without water.
We all like to go to nurseries, walk around, and to take a couple of new babies. Imagine that you are in a nursery and you like a plant. What makes you decide if that specimen is a good one or you should take another one?
I would just say always inspect the plant thoroughly before you buy, and avoid plants in tiny pots.
They will outgrow the space quickly and could die if you don't repot them.
Where do you usually get your plants from?
If you could have a new thing in the plant community, what would it be?
I'd love an app that identifies pests based on leaf damage or what's happening to the soil. I have had to spend hours online learning how to problem-solve a plant.
What bloggers or youtubers do you like?
For those who would like to follow your journey, where can they find you?
They can find me on my Instagram page called @agonyplant.
It's been a pleasure to have you here Agony Plant. I'm sure we all can learn from your experience and I hope we meet soon again to talk about pests or small corners!