This is a new series on Plantophiles where we are interviewing interesting people in the plant space and ask them about their hobby. Our first interview is with Kevin from @kevinsgreenpets. He has >28k followers on Instagram and is posting regular plant-related updates on IG.
In addition to his own profile, he is part of an IG group account called @philomemedron. The group is focusing on hilarious plant memes (44k followers).
1. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hey! My name is Kevin and I am behind the Instagram account @kevinsgreenpets. I live in one of the warmest cities in Germany which is great for my plants, not so great for me 🙂
I am a student (electrical engineering) and live in just 330 sqft (that’s 31 m2). Still, I got super lucky! I have lots of light and a balcony.
2. When did you get into plants?
It started with me decorating this apartment. Everywhere on the webs people were talking about how important plants were to make a living space comfortable and cozy. So I started with IKEA plants, and I slowly got into it. That was before plants got big on Instagram, and I got my houseplant info and talk from the Houzz gardening forums. Oh, and Youtube! There were and are so many great plant people on Youtube, specializing in different things. That’s how I got into orchids, streptocarpus and so on, plants not so popular on Instagram.
3. What does best describe your relationship with plants and why? (eg. hobby, passion, addiction…)
All of the above! It’s a great distraction from my studies, I am never bored even when stuck at home, I get to meet amazing plant people, always have botanical gardens to visit in new cities and it’s just relaxing to take care of plants. It also allows me to be creative when I need to find solutions to plant problems or new ways of growing plants.
4. What does your family / do your friends think about your hobby?
My mom (@floweringflora on IG) is plant-obsessed as well! It’s all we talk about when I am home, where she shows me all her new orchid blooms.
Most of my hobbies and interests are a bit out there (for my fellow engineering students at least) so they don’t think much of my plant hobby haha. I’m definitely the crazy plant person though.
My boyfriend is also plant-obsessed, we actually met through Instagram!
5. You are certainly not alone. Why do you think so many young people are getting into houseplants nowadays?
I definitely think social media has played a huge part in popularizing plants (again). It is appealing because it’s a hobby made for introverts (most plant people I know are). It’s nice to have your own little sanctuary at home where things happen at their own pace.
6. Why did you decide to use Social Media and make plants your shtick?
Two years into my plant hobby I got a new phone and was impressed by the camera. So I decided to create an Instagram account to post random photos. And what did I photograph? Plants, because they were right in my room. I then discovered that there was a whole plant community (at that time still quite small) and decided to make my account plants only.
7. Do you see yourself as a plantfluencer (referring to a New York Times Article Headline)?
I am mostly doing my own thing and share it on Instagram. To me, it is sort of a public plant diary. I post about new projects, new plants and whatever botanical garden I just went to. My biggest goal on Instagram is to shed light on lesser-known plants while also showing plants they already know. I want to show people that cool plants aren’t just aroids 🙂
So in that sense, I do hope to influence other plants people.
8. How important is it for you to grow your audience?
It was kind of important at the beginning, like most I got sucked into it. But nowadays I really don’t care – numbers are just numbers. What I do care about is making and maintaining friendships with other plant people. You can do that with a very small follower count as well, it does not matter.
9. Any tips for someone who is trying to grow their fellowship on Social Media?
Times have changed. I feel like it was much easier to grow when I started, now the field is so incredibly crowded. I don’t have any tips, sorry! (Otherwise, I’d be growing faster haha)
I can say for myself that I only follow new people with interesting plants. That’s what matters to me.
10. What are the perks of having almost 30k followers on Instragram (kevinsgreenpets)? Do you get freebies all the time or tons of DMs? How is it like?
Freebies are rare. I had three sponsorships in 3-4 years. But through the friends, I made during the time on Instagram I have gotten plants for free, traded lots of plants with people I would have otherwise never known, was told lesser known sources of rare plants and also gotten into the private greenhouses of botanical gardens. However, I want to stress that this was not due to my follower count but to the friendships I made. Reach out to other plant people! What matters aren’t your numbers but your knowledge and curiosity.
11. With Philomemedron you are part of a group that is creating funny plant memes. How did you come up with this idea?
Like most ideas, it popped into my head very spontaneously. I asked in my stories if anyone wanted to join me, and the first six people got the job!
12. What is your favourite plant meme and why?
This one. It’s so oddly specific I wonder how they came up with it.
13. On a more serious note. How many plants do you have?
I don’t and can’t count them. There are over 80 in one terrarium alone! And I have five terrariums!
14. What is your favourite plant genus/family/species and why?
That changes all the damn time. My favourite plant remains Ficus deltoidea, but I am always obsessed with different genusses. My past obsessions include orchids, streptocarpus, ficus, philodendrons, sinningias, hoyas, hoffmannias…
Currently, I am very much into ferns, ant plants and platycerium.
15. Is there any plant you despise?
I don’t despise any plant (that isn’t a weed or invasive, but we’re talking about houseplants), I just find some boring. Oh wait, I do hate begonia thelmae because it keeps on dying/rotting and then growing back as nothing happens. Can’t you make up your mind? This is an abusive relationship.
16. What is the plant species you killed the most specimen of?
I don’t really kill plants by accident, when I see a plant beyond saving (or one that I don’t want to save) I kill it WITH MY BARE HANDS. I can’t stand when plants die on me so I kill them before.
17. What is the worst and best plant care tip you have ever heard?
Ice cubes on orchids??? How about you put them into your mouth and see how you like that.
18. Everyone seems to have their perfect recipe on rooting cuttings and propagating plants? What is your secret sauce?
Cut, let dry, dab the wound with cinnamon, stick in lightly moist sphagnum, cover it and watch out for mould. And then wait. I don’t use hormones.
19. What is your opinion on keeping plants in semi hydro?
Works great, however transitioning them to LECA can be a challenge. I have quite a few plants in semi hydro, mostly orchids and aroids.
Some people count Lechuza and their watering system under semi hydro as well. A lot of my plants are in Lechuza and they love it.
20. Do you have a plant wishlist and if yes, what is on it?
Currently? Ant ferns, ferns that grow epiphytically like Aglaomorpha, platycerium hybrids, and sooo much more. I have so many tabs open with plants that I am considering a faster laptop.
21. Has your taste in plants evolved and if yes how?
It has evolved and is evolving by the week. I get bored quickly and always need something new, luckily there are practically an infinite amount of plants out there.
I started with typical houseplants from the garden centre, then got into orchids. Thanks to Instagram I got into aroids next. After space has become a problem, I focused on smaller plants like gesneriads, caudex plants. And now that I have multiple terrariums my focus is on that.
22. We have followed your stories on building a bioactive vivarium and we have seen you adapting and adjusting a couple of things over time? What do you have learned so far?
It is really a learning process that you have to do by yourself. Because everyone’s conditions are so different there is no blueprint to follow. And that’s the fun of it really, otherwise, it would be so boring.
What works for me might not work for you. My advice: start watching youtube videos and just make one.
23. What are some of the next plant-related projects you are about to do?
I want to get back into epiphytes, specifically orchids and ferns. I just re-did a terrarium and have plenty of space in there! Also, I want to have mounted plants outside the terrarium as well and experiment with self-watering methods there.
24. A new plant health regulation has come into practice in the EU on December 14th 2019 called the EU Plant Passport. There currently is a lot of confusion and uncertainty in the hobbyist space on how to correctly interpret it. What is your take on it? How do you think it will impact plant hobbyists?
Private sales are most likely not affected. There is still ongoing debate though, but I think it is very unlikely. It is annoying though for plant sellers, especially those that grow their own plants at home. They have to register and get yearly checkups, both of which cost money.
I do not know enough about these issues from the environmental side of things so I am withholding judgment if this law is sensible or not.
What I can tell you though is that the individual agencies of each country had enough time to prepare for this law yet they are still unable to answer basic questions.
(Our blog post about the new EU Plant Passport regulation)
25. Any wise last words to our readers?
Try to not be swayed by what is popular on Instagram. Seek out unknown plants, which are hard to find, yes, but are affordable if you do find them. This can become a life long hobby and be very fulfilling.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.