You might recognize Jeannie Phan, aka @Studioplants, from Instagram where she shares photos of her beautiful plant-filled, urban jungle home which is #designgoals and when we saw she started growing in a Smart Garden 9 we were beyond excited!
While some of us might need the help of our Smart Gardens and modern technology to make indoor gardening a breeze, Jeannie is a natural, and we couldn't wait to interview her for our new "Growing With" series. We spoke with Jeannie about all the best tips and tricks for summer gardening and to ask if she was born with a green thumb!
*Spoiler alert: she said it took time and practice.
Click and Grow: Please tell our readers about your gardening background. Do you feel that you have a green thumb?
Studio Plants: I don’t have a formal gardening background; I’m purely a self-taught hobbyist with enthusiasm to learn and grow plants, especially living in a dense urban city. Within my family, however, my mom is a gardener, and my dad was a farmer when he lived in Vietnam.
I’d say I have a green thumb now, but I was never naturally good with plants! It took a lot of patience and fantastic failures to be able to grow what I can today.
CG: What does growing plants at home or growing your own food mean for you? Do you feel any emotional connection with the plants you grow?
SP: I work from home full-time as a freelance illustrator and found sterile, purely utilitarian spaces didn’t inspire me. When I started growing and tending to indoor plants, it grounded my routine and allowed quiet periods that contributed to an overall bettering of my day-to-day. I think that has a great deal to do with a fundamental human need to be around nature, and having something as simple as houseplants helped in fulfilling that. Nature walks and gardening do the rest in checking that box.
For food, growing food in any capacity (be it microgreens for garnishing dishes or high yields fit for a family feast) puts me in a mindful state regarding what we eat. When I eat my own homegrown food, I realize the amount of work and resources it takes to grow what’s on our plate and that encourages me to enjoy every bite and waste nothing. Food waste was a problem in our household, like many people, and growing my own food brought a consciousness that I find hard to unsee. This part of my “plant hobby” is very meaningful to me.
I’d say that the relationship with plants I have is one based on mutual respect: I really respect their surprising resilience, and I’m sure they on some level, enjoy the care I give them.
CG: What are your favorite summer plants?
SP: Right now, I’m in love with my Agastache (hyssops)! It’s native to where I live, in Ontario and has a wonderful anise flavor that is familiar to me (it’s a staple in one of my favorite dishes: pho). The hyssops also have been attracting pollinators like crazy which I’m sure helped a ton with our urban rooftop garden.
CG: Any tips on keeping your plants alive in summer?
SP: Nurture the soil: good nutrients and a medium appropriate for your individual plant (play around with that general all-purpose mix). Summer is usually the time where light is less of an issue, but be sure to factor in temperature as well: that hot heat will mean more water! Indoors and outdoors, I have to be more on top of my watering schedule.
CG: How long have you been using the Smart Garden? What plants have you tried growing up to date and which ones are your favorites?
SP: I’ve been using my Smart Garden for about 4 months now. I grew mini tomatoes, lettuce and basil, which are pretty much staples in our kitchen. Basil is an easy favorite because it can be harvested throughout time, so we’ve enjoyed using leaves here and there whenever we’d like. The fragrance is also so refreshing!