Talking Houseplants for National Gardening Day

Talking Houseplants for National Gardening Day

In honor of National Gardening Day on April 14, Nina, our National Sales Director, and Sara, our Brand Coordinator, sat down for a conversation on their favorite topic: houseplants. Read on for a chat from two of Mata Traders’ proudest plant parents, and stylish gardening tools from our Home & Gift collection.

Nina's collection. Center: Favorite fern.

Sara: Let’s talk plants! You are the other major plant parent around here.

Nina: I know! We are up 93 in our house. There are so many plants. There are literally plants around every turn!

Do you have a favorite of the 93?

I do. I don’t even know what it’s called though! You know how sometimes a pot and a plant just come together so nicely?

Oh yes.

That’s the situation here. She’s a fern of some type. So that’s my favorite, but we have other favorites like my fig.

Any problem children in your collection?

My monstera just makes me really annoyed because it just keeps going and they’re so unruly!

I have the same problem with mine. It’s such a gorgeous plant, but I think it’s not for the faint of heart.

It’s just TOO BIG. If I had one plant and that was it, or some huge house with some grand entryway, or a huge window, that would be different. But it’s sharing space with a whole bunch of other stuff and it’s just too big.

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I have a big one, and a small one that’s very contained that I need to re-pot out of kindness. But I know that when I re-pot it it’s going to become gigantic.

Mmmhhhhmm. Exactly. Do you do cuttings?

I’ve cut on my favorite plant, which is a Madagascar Dragon Tree that I rescued from an estate sale. It’s like 8 feet tall but the top branches were so spindly and I just knew that I had to give it a better life and cut those off and try to plant them. One just started growing!

There you go! Plants are just so prolific! Isn’t that so exciting when you get new growth?

Yes! I screamed when I saw the new little one!

I get so excited too! Except when it’s the monstera. No. More.

I kind of feel like that’s one I should try cutting a little bit.

Yeah I'm going to. And now that it's spring you can. Because you're not supposed to trim your plants until it’s the ideal temperature. When people come over I just give them plant cuttings! 

 Sara's collection. Left: Favorite Madagascar Dragon Tree.

What have been some challenges with your houseplant hobby?

Finding the right light was super hard. Especially when you don’t have a lot of space. Like, okay well these have to be in the I don’t have any more space to put any there. And then reading what plants prefer when you're at the nursery verses when you're home - some of it is true and some of it is totally false.

I agree. It’s interesting semantics. Like when you read “full sun” you’re thinking “Oh this bright window will do!” Nope. They mean like outside in a garden, where there’s not a tree for miles, and you live in Arizona-style full sun.

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Do you do anything extra special to take care of your houseplants?

We make our own compost. That’s what we use as our fertilizer. We are composting all of our paper ash, for a little carbon mixed in. It rains the perfect amount here. So it’s like supercharged soil. We just refilled all of our pots this past weekend with a bunch so everybody should be super happy!

I need to refresh my soil and fertilize too. And I need to get a stake. I have a cactus leaning on a wall right now that was roped to two chopsticks taped together. You know when you try to make it work for as long as you can? And then you’re like I miiiiight need to invest in something a little more appropriate for you! It’s time. You’re growing. Let me take care of you! 

 More from Nina's collection.

Do you have any plants that are on your wishlist? There’s always room for one more!

I’m always down to get more plants and find them somewhere to live. When I moved I was driving and couldn’t bring any of my plants. I had room for one single plant in the car. So this is the one plant I moved with: Wilber! People always show pictures of the albino monsteras and those are so pretty. I think a zig zag is on my list. But nothing super special just because there are things that I admire, but I know that I’ll kill them.

That’s how I feel about cacti. I just know what I want will not grow here and I have to accept that. It’s not going to get enough sun. I’m going to kill it. The cacti I have are so random. I have a paddle that I took from a friend in Austin. In his yard it’s like a full bush as tall as I am, and in my house it’s a few paddles in a tiny little 3” pot.

Exactly. So that’s why there are things I admire from afar but I know I shouldn’t have. I eventually want to get a greenhouse in the back so that will be a totally different story! 

 More from Sara's collection.

What is your number one tip for someone that wants to try their hand at indoor gardening? Like someone that’s like “Ugh, I kill every plant. I can’t do it.”

I would just say first off, start with a plant that doesn’t need anything like a snake plant or zz plant. From there, don’t love it too much. Ignore it. Do what the directions say. If you only have one or two plants, put ‘em in a window and just leave them alone. If they start looking a little thirsty, just give them a little water and that's it.

I agree. I would say water it once a week. I water all my plants once a week. I used to have a calendar reminder, but now it’s just “Thursday is plant watering day.” I actually keep a little vintage desk calendar next to my cactus because I only water it once a month.

Cactus Planter with Tray - $29

Yes you have to be super careful not to overwater. And when in doubt, if something is dying then put it in something really well-draining and run water through it until it flushes out. Let it dry outside and put it back inside.

DRAINAGE! My ultimate plant hack is a ceramic drill bit to make anything have a drainage hole in it. A great place to get inexpensive planters that are stylish is the kitchen section of any store. Just buy a cookie jar or utensil holder, drill a hole in it, and you have a cool, mod white planter on par with any design store and you’ve saved $50. Buy that drill bit for $4 and your life is made.

Yes! Exactly! That’s a great tip.

Happy gardening, everyone! Do you have a green thumb, or need help in the growing department? Let us know! And check out more gardening gifts on our website.