Whether you’ve never successfully kept a plant alive or have an Instaworthy indoor garden you’re looking to expand, this bevy of talented women have you covered with pro tips, newbie recommendations and other green thumb insight. We chatted with two pros: Little Leaf’s shop manager and visual content creator, Jennifer Wallace, and Haylie Ahart, owner and lead designer of local company Wander + Whimsy Floral and Event Styling. And we also made sure to catch up with two plant enthusiasts who just so happen to be the dynamic duo behind Buttercream Bakeshop: owner and chef Tiffany MacIsaac and lead decorator and partner Alex Mudry-Till. Read on for a rundown on plant projects to tackle, the best green advice they’ve received, how they’re supporting local businesses during the coronavirus, their own self-care practices and much more.
District Fray: What first drew you to plants, flowers and other green things?
Jennifer Wallace: Once I became obsessed with plants and constantly spoke about them, I thought it would be a great idea to do it every day. I had to feed my obsession.
Haylie Ahart: I started my career in NYC in a sales position where my biggest clients were florists. I eventually fell in love with their artistry. There’s magic in creating experiences that only happen once. It’s living art. I was drawn to the idea of designing spaces that people have their big milestone moments in.
What pro tips can you offer plant enthusiasts while we’re all stuck indoors? What are some new challenges to tackle or ways to spruce up surroundings?
Tiffany MacIsaac: If you are an enthusiast and have experience, try leveling up by adding an installation to allow climbing/vining plants to grow up the walk or hang from the ceiling. I have wall baskets from WallyGro that I highly recommend, and I’ve created a few climbing features using some simple metal hoops and wall hooks I ordered from Amazon. It’s also a great time to experiment with propagation. You can cut your own from existing plants or order cuttings on Etsy.
Wallace: This is the best time to give your plants all the love and attention they need: repotting, giving your plants fresh soil for the new growing season, researching things you don’t quite understand yet like fertilizing and learning how to create your own soil mix. It’s also a great time to work on some cool DIY projects, like building a plant wall, putting up shelves to make more room for plants and making terrariums. The sky’s the limit.
What about recommendations for newbies looking to try something new to avoid stir craziness?
Ahart: Check out our Instagram [@wanderandwhimsyfloral]. Or if you’re a real DIYer, sometimes when I am lacking inspiration, I head to Pinterest, find an arrangement I admire and try to recreate something similar with the materials I have readily available. It’s a challenge and lets me flex my creative muscles. By the end, I am never looking at the inspo pic, but it’s a great way to start. Bonus points if you do this on your balcony or in the backyard. Playing with nature in nature is always inspiring.
MacIsaac: Stick with “simple” plants. I always recommend pothos because they are drought tolerant to an extent, grow quickly and there are lots of leaf designs. But don’t get down on yourself if something deemed “easy” dies. I have more than 75 indoor plants that are thriving, but I’ve killed every ivy and succulent I’ve ever gotten. “Easy” or “simple” to one person might be kryptonite to another. You’ll eventually find your groove and what works in your environment. There’s a perfect indoor plant for every person.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about how to care for a plant or floral arrangement?
Alex Mudry-Till: Pay attention to what the plants are telling you. Just like when a relationship is on the rocks – there are always signs.
Wallace: I learned a while back how important it is to have a well-draining soil so that you can properly water your plants without the fear of overwatering. In their natural habitats, when it rains it pours, so you can’t be afraid to give your plants a good, thorough watering. Starting with a great soil mix is key.
How can locals support D.C. area plant and flower businesses during Covid-19? Where are you buying plants and flowers right now?
Wallace: Ordering online and buying gift cards are the best way to help support if you’re able to.
Ahart: Local farmers, flower shops and grocery stores. Locals should Google their neighborhood flower shops and farmers. Most of them are offering no contact deliveries or drive-thru pickups, and it’s a great way to support local businesses.
What are you doing to stay sane right now? What meditative, creative and/or therapeutic outlets do you have?
Mudry-Till: I started a number of flowers and vegetables by seed back in February, so checking in on the trays every morning when I wake up feels like it helps keep a routine for me. Keeping my morning structure similar to what it normally is: having designated times for emails, getting a workout in, checking my seed trays, having an end time to sit down and have dinner with my husband, etc. This keeps the Groundhog Day effect away.
Ahart: I am avidly listening to everything [by motivational speaker] Gabrielle Bernstein. I highly recommend her. I am also designing my new studio space and designing florals just for me.
Wallace: Every morning, I wake up and do a 10-minute yoga session found on YouTube. It’s a great way to wake up, get your blood flowing and start the day off in a calm and relaxed mood. Soon after that, I check on all my plants because they make me happy and I love getting wrapped up in plant care. This routine has definitely been keeping me sane.
See what MacIsaac and Mudry-Till are up to at www.buttercreamdc.com.