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The Royal Treatment

Plant Kween Christopher Griffin shares their best tips for growth—Your Greenery's, and Your Own 

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No one exalts in the joys of plant parenthood like Christopher Griffin aka @plantkween. “When I water my green gurls, I make it a party! I blast music, I put on a fun outfit, I pour myself a lil’ cocktail,” they say. “It’s a whole entire mood.” And it’s infectious. They may have nearly 200 houseplants now, but a single Marble Queen Pothos, and the legacy of their garden-loving grandma, set this green thumb on their journey, one that’s as much about self-care as plant care. “Putting that love, care, and attention into my plants has enabled me to put that same amount of love, care, and attention into my own Black, queer, femme being,” Griffin writes in the intro of their first book,You Grow, Gurl! Plant Kween’s Lush Guide to Growing Your Garden (Harper Design), out now. Here, Griffin gives us their tips for nurturing your own indoor oasis, and nourishing yourself in the process. –Lisa Butterworth   

 1) Check the soil before watering, dahling. In the beginning of this journey, I sent a bunch of plants to that little botanical garden in the sky due to overwatering. So this kween learned to pay closer attention, allowing my green gurls to tell me what they need—and hunty they are a vocal bunch! Most houseplants only need water about every 7 to 10 days (in warmer months) or every 14 days (in colder months), but it can vary based on the type of green gurl she is, the kind of pot she’s in, the soil mixture—even the weather that week. Check the soil moisture of your green gurls every week by placing your finger two inches into the soil. If it’s damp, leave that kween be; she’s good. If it’s dry then she’s thirsty—give that kween a drink.

2) Wipe down those leaves, gurl. Plants are not furniture, so they should not be collecting dust, dahling! These leaves are a plant’s meal ticket, so removing any dust makes sure your green gurl catches as much sunlight as possible so she can do her thang—that good ol’ photosynthesis. A little damp cotton cloth with some cool water does the trick! 

3) Give your green gurls a spritz, hunty. Every morning, as I warm up my jasmine tea, I spritz some of my green gurls with a little misting bottle. It’s relaxing and my green gurls love it! The plants I spritz are epiphytes, which are plants that grow on top of other plants or trees, coexisting in the most harmonious, harmless way. Some examples include the staghorn fern, green gurls from the monstera family, mosses, orchids, and tillandsias. Spritzing the aerial roots of these kweens, and in the case of my staghorn fern, spritzing the shield frond and her leaves, mimics the rainfall they’re used to and keeps them looking lush. 

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4) Check in with your green gurls. They’ll thank you. It’s a relaxing routine that I have come to love, especially when I’m feeling stressed. It gives me an opportunity to step away from technology, rest my voice, rest my mind, and really just get back to the basics—interacting with nature. This routine is also fabulous for your green gurls because it provides you with an opportunity to check and see if there is any new growth, any leaves that need pruning, any pests on their leaves that you need
to get rid of, if you need to rotate them to make sure they’re not leaning too far toward the sun, or perhaps it’s time for a little repotting because they need room to grow.

5) Water yourself and make this journey a fun one. I’ve learned so much about myself during this botanical adventure. I’ve learned how to better care for myself through caring for my plants. Am I drinking enough water? Is my body getting enough sunshine? Are my roots and foundation sturdy enough to support my new growth? I’ve realized that I am basically a houseplant with complex emotions.

If you are just starting out on this journey of lush greenery, I hope you are ready for a wonderful, viridescent ride. Caring for plants can be tedious and can seem like a chore if you treat it that way! Build a plant family that vibes with you—there is no green thumb, you simply have to match the plants to the level of care you can provide. I encourage you to go into this journey with a curious mind, eager to learn about the plants you are bringing into your space. Understand that you will have some plant fails (all plant parents do), but you learn from those mistakes and do better next time. And make it fun! 

Header photo: PHOEBE CHEONG

This article originally appeared in BUST's Summer 2022 print edition. Subscribe today!

Lisa Butterworth is BUST’s West Coast editor, soaking up the eternal sunshine in Los Angeles. She’s probably eating a taco right now. 

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