Get the Dirt with Charmaine from @UnplantParenthood

Get the Dirt with Charmaine from @UnplantParenthood

We thought we'd switch things up this week and hear from one of our favourite plant parents: Charmaine from @unplantparenthood

Between her and her adorable pup Pudge, they have amassed a plant family that is total and utter goals. See below for the dirt, and don't forget to check her out on Youtube

1. How many plants do you have in your plant collection? To be honest I haven't really counted in awhile, but if I had to take my best guess, I would say close to about 300!
2. What’s your favourite plant(s)? Definitely my Philodendron tortum! I find that no matter how many new plants come into my life, my tortum has always been one that I'm completely in awe of and that brings me the same amount of joy and excitement since the first time I ever saw a photo of one and acquired it for the first time. 
3. Do you have any new additions that you’re really excited about? I just recently acquired one of my top wishlist plants that I didn't think I'd own like... ever. The Monstera burle marx's flame! The cost of them historically have been pretty astronomical to the point where I sort of accepted I'd never own it. Luckily with plant prices coming down a lot, a friend was able to import them for a steal of a price and I just couldn't pass it up. 
4. Why do you love having plants in your home? What do they mean to you or how do they impact your life? I can't even imagine a home without plants. I feel like plants play just as much of a role in your interior space as furniture, and it really just brings a room to life (literally). I also can't stress enough how much plants have impacted my mental health for the better. There was a period of time where I had a rough couple of years with depression, and it seemed like the only thing that got me out of bed some days were my plants. I'm so grateful to have found comfort and solace in this hobby, and knowing that there are thousands if not millions of people out there who know exactly how I feel is such an amazing feeling.
5. Do you have a favourite spot in your home where your plants make it feel that much more alive? I think anyone who follows me on Instagram or YouTube would probably assume my plant room would be my favourite spot, but to be honest it's actually in my living room. I have this shelf that I've had since I moved to Canada in 2017, and it's so fun to see how much it has transformed as I continue along in this hobby. I feel like I've tried a minimal approach to this shelf multiple times because of how difficult it can be to maintain it, but it seems I just have a natural tendency to make it as full and lush as possible. I love seeing this wall first thing in the morning and last thing at night, it's a really special place in my home. 
6. Take us through your plant care routine! What do you do to keep your plants thriving? If I have to be honest, I really don't have a set "routine" which might seem weird. I think once I hit a certain threshold of plants, any type of schedule or routine just went out the door, haha. I really try to stay on top of everything that needs to be done to keep them looking their best, but with my schedule it's just not possible. So now I try and do a quick sweep of the house with any free moment I get just to see who needs me. Usually these "moments" are when I'm waiting for a pot of water to boil, or when I'm waiting for a video to export or something. I do try and take at least one day over the weekend to just put on my headphones, zone out and care for my plants, but with the quantity I have, that one day just isn't enough.
I've adopted a mindset now where I don't expect my plants to look perfect all the time, and since I'm in this hobby so publicly, I definitely get a fair amount of "plant shaming" comments but I don't let it get to me. I used to revolve my entire life and schedule around the care of my plants, but now I'm in a space where this hobby has to revolve around my schedule, and it's been liberating. Sure, my collection could look a lot better, but we all have different goals in this hobby, and striving for perfection just isn't one of them anymore. Also to just sum up any kind of plant care "routine" in a nutshell, I'd say the only one that's really made a difference for me was to just fertilize every single week at a very diluted amount. It takes a lot of the stress of remembering who and who hasn't been fertilized, and my plants have actually been a lot better for it. Also, if you're not using mycorrhizal inoculants already, please do it!! It's a game changer. 
7. Are there any difficulties with having a pet with so many plants around? When Pudge was a puppy he definitely had a really short phase where he'd nibble plants, knock them over, fight them... but he got over that really quickly and now I have to bribe him HEAVILY just to get him to sit near a plant for a photo. He's a really good boy and doesn't ever mess with my plants, I got really lucky! 
8. What are some lessons you’ve learned from having plants? Oh gosh I wouldn't even know where to start... I think the biggest lesson I've learned is patience. There are many things you aren't warned about when you start getting into heavy plant collecting, like pest outbreaks or the exhausting trial and error of getting your conditions right. But unlike the world we live in, the plant hobby isn't a space where you can expect instant results. It takes time-- so much time! Whether you're pest treating week after week, or struggling to size up your dream plant.. It all requires an incredible amount of patience, and I really believe if you don't truly love plants-- like LOVE them, you can retire from this hobby as quickly as you jumped into it. 
9. Are there any plants you’ve struggled with in the past? Way too many to name! I think if I had to choose one of significance, it would be the Monstera thai constellation. I feel like people either wildly succeed or wildly flop with this plant and there's really no in between. I'm not sure what it is about that plant, but I just have no luck at all, primarily rooting it and keeping those roots happy. As much as I love the variegation of it, I no longer allow thai constellations into my home for the sake of my sanity and mental health.
That's all for now, folks! Huge thank you to Charmaine for speaking to us this week. Don't forget to follow her on Instagram and Youtube @unplantparenthood for all the tips and tricks! 

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