If you haven’t adopted a plant by now, are you even living? Houseplants aren’t just for our grandmothers anymore. Plants have found their way into the homes of younger generations. According to the National Gardening Association, plant sales have surged 50 percent in the past three years, now reaching $1.7 billion.
We took a field trip to Mickey Hargitay Plants in West Hollywood with botanist & artist, Jerrod La Rue, to talk plant trends, identify different genera, and discuss all the woes of plant parenthood.
Jerrod continues to work out of Los Angeles and Palm Dale as a botanist with private clients and owns a collection of 100+ plants. When he’s not taking photographs or walking the runway, find him at a nearby nursery or getting his coffee fix at Go Get em Tiger.
HL: How were you introduced to botany?
JLR: Growing up, my mom cared more about plants than she cared about me and my brothers. I wanted to have some sort of reminder of her when I moved out, so I started buying plants. I also wanted to challenge myself and prove that I can keep some shit alive. First I started off small, & soon understood why she cared more about plants than us. Now I fucked up—I have too many plants, and care more about my plants than I do about people.
HL: What are some take-care tips for new plant parents?
JLR: Humidifiers and any sort of misting device is how to save all of your plants, for sure, especially if it’s a tropical plant. If it’s a cactus, then that’s how to kill your plant.
HL: What is the ideal temperature for houseplants?
JLR: I do my best to manage [plants in hot weather]. 80°F is actually a really good temperature for a plant. I make sure I always mist them. Spraying them will keep them nice and happy—it’s like giving them a little bath.
HL: How do you deal with pests on your plants?
JLR: With the vengeance of my hand. When spider mites have taken over your child multiple times, it becomes a personal thing. I go in and smash them with my hands, very gently of course. I usually get two wet napkins and have this crazy killing spree. It feels kinda nice to kill the enemy, you know?
HL: Why do you think there’s an increase of houseplants within millennials?
JLR: Everyone living in LA or NY are constantly breathing in pollution. Maybe the increase of houseplants within millennials is due to the poor air-quality [in these major cities]. Or maybe it has to do with proving that they can keep something alive. That was kind of why I started. I was like, “Yeah—look at me, I’m responsible. I can keep a plant alive. Weird flex, right?"
video and words by Melissa Ver