Houseplant Enthusiasts - Maisa Nammari
Welcome to a brand new houseplant interview series called Houseplant Enthusiasts. The series highlights houseplant enthusiasts from around the world, focusing on each individual's personal plant journey. The series explores how people "get into plants" and exposes tips and tricks that will help others on their journey to successful houseplant care. I am using this series as a way to meet and learn from customers, and hopefully give them a new outlet to share their stories and show off their plants!
For our inaugural interview, we begin with Maisa Nammari, a plant-loving student based in Boulder, Colorado. Maisa has between 80 and 100 houseplants and is a big fan of tropical plants. In this interview she shares some fantastic plant care tips and specific products she uses for her own plant care. You can check out her excellent photography at @miishmiish on Instagram.
Eli: Tell me about your plant collection - how many plants do you have, living situation, plant setup, light situation.
Maisa: I actually don't know the exact number off the top of my head, but I would say I have around 80 to 100 plants. Yeah, it gets a little out of hand at times haha. I have been put on many a plant moratorium over the past year and they don't always, you know, end well, in that I will be like, "but I like this plant and I really had to buy it....sorry!" And yeah, my boyfriend just rolls his eyes and it's alright. But he does contribute he will refill the humidifier from time to time for me.
Eli: So you live in Colorado, I'm guessing it's kind of dry, what your setup like?
Maisa: I believe the temperate zone for Boulder is 5b, but I am a tropical plants lover, so all of my plants are inside pretty much throughout the year. I don't have many plants to go outside in the summer. Except my lemon tree. It's still a baby and doesn't produce yet but it's a cutting from my grandfather's which produces a lot of big hefty lemons. So I have hope for the future. But yeah, I have been blessed with amazing light in my apartment. I have most of my plants in front fo the southeast window and then across from that is a SW window and I have some skylights because I'm a third-floor apartments and it's just it's just ideal light for plants and that's kind of why I have so many. It's really nice. I kind of dread the day we move out and we have to figure out how to make these plants happy again.
Eli: So you mentioned your grandfather, can you tell me a little bit about how you got "into plants"?
Maisa: Yeah, so my mom is was at the Botanic Gardens and has worked there for about 15 years now. And my grandpa is a master gardener. And so I've just kind of grown up around plants. We always had plants in the house when I was growing up. And I, you know tried to have a little garden of my own outside when I was seven. It didn't go very well haha. But yeah I've had this appreciation for nature for my entire life. The second I moved out of my parents' house the thing I was most excited to get for my own place was a plant.
Eli: Do you remember what your first one was?
Maisa: I got a couple at once actually. I got a Black Pagoda Lipstick plant, Dracaena Corn Plant, a Red Maranta and a Calathea White Fusion. Those were my starter plants, which you know, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. But four out of the five of those are still alive.
Eli: That's really good. I have not been as successful with my first plants. But my parents gave me one of my first plants and they were smart. They gave me a Swedish Ivy. And it's like you couldn't kill that thing if you tried, you know, and they gave me this one dinky little Vine and I'm thinking, "thanks a lot," you know, like what is this thing? And before I knew it, it was just a total beast so you know they started at me out right.
Eli: So, 80-100 plants. Any specific varieties or families you're into across those? Or are you all over the place?
Maisa: I'm all over the place. I've lately gotten really into Aroids and Alocasias. Those are the ones I've been drawn to lately. I started out really loving Calatheas. I think I have to credit those plants for educating me more about like houseplant care because they're so finicky and you know, you gotta, let your water sit out or give them distilled water. You've gotta keep the humidity really high. They're pretty demanding plants. So yeah, I was determined to keep them alive and really did my research. Now it's kind of branched out to more different types of tropicals.
Eli: You mentioned that those plants kind of schooled you, but any special plant care tips or tricks that you've learned over the years that really stick out in your mind?
Maisa: I learned a couple years ago to always put Superthrive in my water whenever I repot. It's basically a rooting nutrient. It helps plants grow big and strong roots. So I do that every time I repot. What else? If you live in a dry climate, a humidifier is a must unless you have very hardy varieties. But if you like Alocasias and Syngoniums and Calatheas, then a humidifier is your best friend. I can't live without my humidifier. Here, humidity is a must, especially for houseplants and especially in winter and even int he summer when the air conditioning is on. That's just as bad, I feel.
I also get spring water delivered. I'll admit it's a little bougie haha, a lot of my resources go to my plants. But because I have Calatheas and some more delicate philodendrons, I just didn't want to give them tap water - especially because the tap water in Boulder is very hard. It's got a lot of fluoride and chlorine and I noticed a difference when I water with spring or distilled. My plants had less brown tips and crispy edges. So to me it's worth it. Then once a month I use Bonide and sometimes add in some Superthive.
Eli: So going back to your plant collection - with 80-100 plants that almost requires a care routine of some sort right? What does yours look like?
Maisa: So, I water my plants probably once a week. And you know, I've got many of them around my working area, so I'll just take a peek into their pot and see how they're doing and see how moist the soil is. If things are looking kind of droopy, then I'll say alright time to water. It'll take me a couple days to get my shit together but yeah everyone gets watered haha! I pretty much do it all at once at that point. And it does take kind of awhile to do. But if I'm short on time, I'll identify those most in need and focus on those and then wait a couple days and do the rest. Most of my plants are on the same schedule.
Eli: So, here's a question for you, do you bring the water to the plants? Or the plants to the water?
Maisa: I usually bring the water to the plants, but, lately, with the Plantfolio haha, honestly, honest to god, I've been bringing the plants to the water and I like it a lot. Because a lot of my plants are in cachepots with a nursery pot inside and you know, I've never had a plant die of over watering. I am proud of that fact haha. But in the cachepots they have this reservoir of water that fills up if you don't fill it out. And it's always driven me nuts and given me fungus gnats. So before I needed to go around and bring water to each plant, water it, and then come back again later to pour out the cachepot reservoir so there's no standing water into some big pitcher or something, which is a huge pain in the ass. But now I've just been taking my nursery pots and watering them over the sink.
Eli: I appreciate the name drop! In all seriousness, how has using the Plantfolio Indoor Potting Station changed your approach to plant care? Any tips for new users?
Maisa: I like that I can just bring the nursery pot over and water there over the sink and I don't have to go back and empty the cachepot. As far as tips? I think it's very intuitive, so I think anyone who knows how to water a plant will know how to use the potting station. It's great to have one side be the silicone mat and then the other side the grate. So you have one side to repot with soil and then you can water your repotted plant. That's another tip actually that I think most people know, but you should always water your plant after you repot. With this you can just do it straight away. This is something I've had trouble with, I got this new plant. I made this huge mess. Now I gotta give it some water and my theory holds that it's very easy and convenient as opposed to repotting on a balcony or on some newspaper and making sure you're not getting muddy water all over your house, which has happened!
Eli: Final question, what would you say your plant goals are going forward?
Maisa: Let's see... I don't really feel the need to get more plants. I've kind of reached a nice threshold of - oh, I have a lot of plants and they're all alive for now. I want to get all of my plants to a point where I can you know, start making productive propagations and build up my plants. Boost them up to be a little more full and lush.