LIFESTYLE // SEPTEMBER 2020
HOW TO HOUSE PLANT
With over 60 house plants and counting, Lily Young has turned her LA home into a plant paradise. Learn how to make your greenery flourish with a little help from Lily.
By The Editors
Photos By Tyler Denering
Lily Young is a down to earth girl (literally) with an honest and straightforward approach to her home garden. She comes from a family of plant enthusiasts including a father who has a degree in botany. So break out the fertilizer and dig into Lily's advice on how to house plant.
Where did your love of plants begin?
My parents are definitely plant people, and have had a big influence on my love and appreciation for plants. My dad has a degree in botany and worked in landscaping for many years, and his knowledge of plant life influenced my mom a lot over the decades. They bought a house with 2 acres of land 30 years ago, and have spent many years collecting different plants (namely succulents and various tropical plants) and creating unique landscapes throughout their property. When I became really interested in plants a few years back, I started taking home various plants and cuttings anytime I visited, and started asking them for plant advice frequently.
When did you begin your own plant collection?
When my boyfriend and I got our own place together. I finally didn’t have roommates for the first time and could decorate however I wanted, but I ended up having some difficulty with defining a style for our place. While searching endlessly on Pinterest for inspiration, and noticing that houseplants were a growing “trend,” it occurred to me that pretty much any room can look great if you’ve got a healthy amount of plants around. So instead of buying a ton of new home decor and worrying whether it would work or not, I started buying plants, and instantly our house started to feel more like a real home. The more I got, the better our place felt, and the more interested I became in learning about each plant.
Soon I grew to find that the care I invested into each plant had become a form of therapy for myself. It’s really wonderful to have a house full of living things to care for, who all have their own unique needs, and to watch them grow and thrive is such a fun and rewarding experience.
How many plants do you have?
Inside my tiny 1 bedroom bungalow I have about 40 plants, not counting propagations or cuttings. In my little outdoor area I have another 20 or so. And while I never want to stop collecting, I started having to limit myself about a year ago just due to the amount of time it can take to care for them. I’ve sadly had too many plant casualties just because I didn’t notice among all of the other plants that they were suffering, and I really want to get better at caring for my current plant babies before I add a whole lot more.
What is your favorite type of plant?
Just like how it feels wrong to have a favorite child, it feels sort of wrong to have one favorite plant! I also tend to kind of change my mind on it frequently, but if I really had to pick, I would say heart leaf philodendrons. I have three in my house right now which are all thriving and gorgeous and they’re just perfect to me in every way.
Does talking to your plants help them grow?
I’ve heard this before, and not to be a bummer, but I personally don’t think it does, lol. But I’m in support of doing anything for your plants that helps YOU feel good. For example, there is an album I listen to sometimes called Mother Earth’s Plantasia which is supposed to be music curated for your plants to enjoy. It’s silly of course but if I subconsciously feel like it’s helping them to play it, then that makes me feel good, so why not.
What is your best plant memory?
Tough to identify one single best memory, but a good one that stands out is the first time I went to Rolling Greens nursery in Culver City. It’s my favorite place to plant shop in LA, and I hadn’t gone to any nurseries of that scale prior to my first visit there. When I walked in for the first time I didn’t know what to expect, and it was like I had died and gone to plant heaven. They have an unbelievable selection of all types of plants, all of which are so healthy and beautiful. It’s a true plant wonderland and I could spend hours there just roaming around and eventually going home with a car-full of plants.
What is the most challenging plant?
There have been several! A lot of friends and family assume that I must have quite the green thumb, but believe me when I say I’ve really struggled over the years with a number of different stubborn plants. I’ve stressed out endlessly over the inevitable slow deaths of not one or two, but three fiddle leaf figs, which are notoriously fickle. But I’ve also struggled to take care of plants that aren’t necessarily supposed to be that difficult, such as hoyas, monstera deliciosas, and pilea pepermiodes (I have literally bought and killed about 10 of those).
What's the best plant for a first time plant owner?
My number one plant to recommend for beginners is a pothos plant, the most common of which being a golden pothos. Not only are they really hard to kill (with the ability to go without water or proper sunlight for long periods of time and bounce back to a healthy state beautifully), but they actually GROW without having to do much for it. It’s super rewarding when you notice for the first time that they’ve grown, and I think having a first plant that gives you that kind of excitement is important in nurturing your love for plants.
What’s the worst thing you can do to a plant?
Probably the number one worst thing you can do to most plants is not having proper drainage in your plant’s pot. When you’re just starting out and haven’t done much research, it’s easy to just stick any given plant in a cute pot that you just HAD to have. But lots of nice plant pots don’t come with drainage holes, and planting something directly in there is a recipe for disaster as it will most likely cause root rot, and your plant friend will suffer a slow and painful death.
Equally as detrimental is overwatering your plants in general, which will be especially bad if they don’t have proper drainage. One of the most important things to keep in mind is: Most plants can bounce back from under-watering, but they rarely can from overwatering.
Can you walk us through your plant care routine?
I consider myself a bit on the lazy side when it comes to plant care— which is something I want to improve on — so I don’t have too much of a set routine. I usually tend to plants on an individual basis - as opposed to caring for all of the same types of plants at one time.
For most of my indoor plants, I wait until they tell me they need water before watering them - usually that means slightly droopy leaves and/or very dry soil. I have started caring for almost all of my plants in my large kitchen sink, mainly because the wood floors in my apartment are very old, and any water drops or puddles results in damage. So I water them over my sink and let them drain in there or on the counter for a while before placing them back in their spot in my house. I also dust off my plants with a microfiber cloth every couple of weeks - not just for cleanliness, but to ensure that there is no dust preventing sunlight absorption.
Where does your plant obsession go from here?
There was a time for a while, before the pandemic, that I was in a cycle of buying a lot of plants, then neglecting some until they died, and then just buying more to replace them. I was obviously home a lot less then, so it was easier to let plant care fall by the wayside. Going forward, I obviously plan to keep adding new plants to my home, but I really want to get better at caring for the ones I already have and having a real plant care routine before acquiring many more. I also really want to do more with my plants and landscape outside, since most of my time is devoted to indoor plants currently.