Today we’re sitting down with the fantastic Judith de Graaff to ask her five questions about her love for plants. We just adore Judith’s eye for detail and style, and we wanted to learn a little bit more about the person behind the Instagram account. Keep on reading for some very handy tips about plant care, and some inspiration for your next plant purchase.
My name is Judith, I’m a Dutch graphic designer living in France. Besides client work, I also work as a photographer, stylist and also keep a lifestyle blog called JOELIX.com. Together with my friend Igor, we founded Urban Jungle Bloggers in 2013: a global community of plant lovers, where we share what living with plants is all about. We have written a bestselling book called “Urban Jungle, living and styling with plants” and we’re currently working on a new project, that we can’t wait to reveal soon.
1. What made you fall in love with the world of plants?
As many kids of the 1970s and 1980s, I grew up in a home that looked like a true urban jungle, there were houseplants everywhere: in the window sill, in macaramé plant hangers, on stools and tables. It may have sparked something there! As a teenager I worked in a garden centre, but it wasn’t until I visited the Jardin Exotique in Monaco that I had this epiphany moment: I wanted all those gorgeous succulents, cacti and palm trees at home as well. I brought home some cacti cuttings from the same trip and planted them in our greenhouse at home and never looked back.
2. What’s one tip you’d give to any plant owner?
Just like with your family members and loved ones: take their picture every now and then. It’s nice to have a photo as a memory, but it’s also very interesting to look back at a plant that seems to look the same, and realize that it actually grew quite a bit! Documenting your plant’s life gives you new insights and perspectives and helps you become aware of the patience and ressources it takes to grow.
3. What is your current favourite plant, and why is it your favourite?
That’s like choosing your favourite child! I really like my large Opuntia in the greenhouse, the tall Euphorbia, as well as my Oxalis and Kalanchoe that keep thriving. One of my other favorites is a Philodendron: it has these perfect heart-shapes leaves, I spotted it at our local thrift shop where all plants are part of the decoration and thus not for sale. One day a staff member gave it to me, because it wasn’t doing well. It grew steadily, but as it is currently battling some thrips, the plant doesn’t look as good as it used to do.
4. What’s one thing you learnt about taking care of plants the hard way?
One thing I learned last summer is that thrips can travel rather large distances (indoors) and find the exact plants they like. Thrips are nasty little insects that suck the juices from your plant’s leaves and possibly kill them. It started with one infested Monstera deliciosa, but the thrips found their way to several of my Monstera and Philodendron around the house, despite placing the plant in quarantine. I’ve been treating them ever since with rubbing alcohol and black soap, but they come and go and are very annoying.
5. What is the number one plant on your wish list?
Foremost, I wish for my current plants to thrive and grow bigger this spring. But there are always plants on my wish-list too 😉 I’d love a Silver Dollar vine which is exactly what you would expect with a name like that: a vine that has circle shaped leaves. Some XXL plants are also on my list, like a large Strelitzia, a Pichodia grandis palm (or any palm really), and a couple of oversized cactus plants. I’d also love a Selenicereus chrysocardium and a Selenicereus anthonyanus because their shapes are like sculptures!