Meet our October Guest Gardener!
Welcome to this month’s edition of our Guest Gardener, where Sophia Engelbrecht shares her slightly darker aesthetic when it comes to indoor plants. Her social media is full of praise for plants, and an unusual look which we adore!
When asked how often she buys plants, Sophia says:
”I want to say every second week but I would be lying. Since the plant fairy has got hold of me, I visit Lifestyle at least once a week and other smaller shops in between. So, that means I end up buying at least one plant a week – something my bank account is not too happy about. Luckily (but also unfortunately), I am running out of space, so my weekly therapy sessions (as I call them) at Lifestyle will soon be limited to just visiting the beautiful varieties of plants.”
”Since I am self-employed, I have the luxury of spending two hours every day making sure all my plant babies are clean, not thirsty, too hot or cold and don’t have any unwanted visitors. (Mealybugs are the stuff nightmares are made of.)
On top of that, Saturdays and Sundays are days spent stinking up the place with fish emulsion and guano. Since most of my indoor plants are semi-hydroponic, they need to be fed more often than plants in soil. It is a stinky business but well worth it, especially when you are rewarded with new growth.”
So why do you garden in a non-traditional space?
”Since I don’t own a house with a yard and the small flat we live in does not get a lot of light, I was forced to research what types of plants can grow indoors in medium to low light. The number of plants that can not only survive but thrive in such conditions are surprising! I always believed that nothing could grow indoors where we live, and I used dead peace lily after peace lily as proof.
Turns out, I was just a bad plant parent back then; now I can even keep the dreaded Fiddle Leaf Fig alive and happy. Not to mention all the dramatic Calatheas that found a place in our home. Of course, going the semi-hydro route has made my life much easier and has led to healthier plants.”
How did you get into gardening?
”Growing up, my mom had a sunroom and I remember using a moisture meter to check if the plants needed watering on various occasions. She had a beautiful rabbit’s foot fern with furry rhizomes to die for. And of course, the huge Delicious Monster with aerial roots twisting all over the place. So, I think my love of plants started way back then but entered a period of dormancy. It only awoke again the beginning of this year and I quickly went from having one Anthurium (that surprisingly survived for the last three years) to 60+ plants indoors and 40+ outdoors.
And, I am happy to report that there has only been three plant casualties: a Staghorn Fern and two Ficus Elastica Variegatas. I know the Rubber Trees are supposed to be easy houseplants but I have put the variegated ones and their beautiful camo leaves on the bad list.”
What are your social media handles?
What is the name of the suburb you currently reside in?
What type of home do you have? Flat/apartment, house, flat-share, garden cottage, etc
What is your favourite place to buy plants?
”Most of my plants I have I got from Lifestyle. For the more hard-to-find wishlist plants like my Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, Monstera Adonsonii, Hoya Carnosa Compacta, and the spectacular Calathea Orbifolia, I turned to online shops like Best Fronds, Hoek.Om, Nuno Indoor Plants and The Atrium. It seems when it comes to specialised plant shops, Capetonians are the lucky ones. But you can get some pretty special plants at Lifestyle if you’re in JHB.”
Are you a Lifestyle Loyalty Club member?
”I am and I love it!”