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Plant Whisperers: Paul Thompson

Updated: Feb 22, 2020

Plant Whisperers is our blog section where, each month, we interview Pilea lovers and plant enthusiasts all over the world!

Plant Whisperers: Paul Thompson

This month we met Paul from @plantmepaul, a plant enthusiast and chemistry teacher who lives in Manhattan. He gives useful plant advice on his Instagram profile and has recently started to host a plant workshop in New York!

Hello Paul!

How did you start loving plants? 

My love for plants began a little later in life. I enjoyed gardening as a kid but didn't do too much of it and don't recall having house plants growing up.

Fast forward to a few years ago, right after grad school, I bought a golden pothos. At that time, I didn't really know a lot about plant care, but I knew Pothos was a low maintenance plant. I left it in its nursery pot for the longest time and, when it would get droopy, I would water it.

It wasn't until three years ago, when I moved to my next apartment, that I expanded my plant family. I bought a planter with three plants in it, two of which I didn't even know what they were at the time. They flourished, and it made me realize I was pretty good at it.

And then I slowly added more plants and learned more about them. Now, in my current apartment, I have close to 60 plants, and I'm excited to continue to learn and grow more! 

In your opinion, what's the best thing about caring for plants?

The feeling of happiness they give me when I see them doing well!

I also just appreciate their unique characteristics and personalities. I think sometimes we forget they are living things and not just decorative.

Plants have changed my life, and they have motivated me to create my Instagram profile, through whom I've met some great people!

How can you manage to have 60+ plants?

Well, to me, wherever there's an open space with good or decent lighting, that's a place to add joy and watch it grow. 

In terms of plant care, the first thing to think about is your living conditions (lighting, air quality/circulation, etc.) Different plants require different needs to thrive.

Buying pots with drainage holes would be my second piece of advice. Overwatering is probably the most common way people kill plants. It's less difficult to kill them if the water has a place to exit.

And, last but not least, check in on your plants daily. They like attention as much as we do. It's good to see how they're doing and make sure they haven't been infected with pests.

What's your experience with Pilea?

I have two Pilea plants right now.

My oldest is about a year old, and it's struggling at the moment. Probably, when I moved in the dead of summer, it had trouble acclimating, and it hasn't fully recovered. And now, with the winter, the struggle continues.

I made an IGTV about Pilea leaves cupping inward or downward cause I noticed mine were cupping inward.

I've only had my other Pilea for about two months and seems to be pretty happy. It seems to like bright indirect light, to be watered only when dry and not be moved often.

Can you tell us a little bit about the workshop you recently hosted?

Sure! I've been to a few workshops in the past, and this encouraged me to host one. It happened in a plant and flower shop in Hamilton Heights, NY.

I've been going to this plant shop for a few years, and when I pitched the idea to them, they were more than excited and helpful in helping me organize it. They were great hosts, and I hope to do more in the future.

It was my first workshop ever, and I had so much fun! Friends, both online and long-time, came along with a few walk-ins.

Do you ever talk to your plants?

I talk to them from time to time, especially if I'm leaving for vacation, just to give them a little pep talk, "please be alive when I come back"!

I also like to play music and dance while I water them. 

What's on your plant wish list right now?

I would really like to have a variegated Monstera (either Deliciosa or Adansonii).

I've also been eyeing Philodendron white knight, Anthurium clarinervium, Alocasia cuprea, and Aglaonema pictum tricolor.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Paul!

Remember to follow his Instagram profile, @plantmepaul.

Let's keep spreading the love and the fun!

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