Basement jungle: Inside Halifax’s House Full of Plants
Jennifer Lee shares knowledge, pictures of her huge plant collection on Instagram
February 1, 2020, 8:00 am ASTLast Updated: January 30, 2020, 11:39 am
Jennifer Lee’s Halifax basement suite is a plant lover’s paradise.
She is the owner of the popular House Full of Plants (@housefullofplants) Instagram page and about 170 houseplants, ranging in size from several feet tall to only a couple inches.
The page features Lee’s extensive collection and is an online space where she can share tips and tricks with other plant owners. The account has nearly 5,000 followers.
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Jennifer Lee has been interested in plants from a very young age, but when her living space increased in size after university, so did her plant collection.
“I lived in a place with two skylights and I was like, well, I’ve got to get a plant for that and then it just grew from there,” she said in an interview.
“It became a mission of how many species can I get into my house and there are literally hundreds of thousands of species that can live in our homes.”
Lee started the House Full of Plants Instagram account with her friend Robyn, who lived in the basement of their split duplex. Robyn is a full-time barber and is less involved in the Instagram account now.
“At first it was like, you know, humble brags, right? For the likes. But then we both found this community that’s really supportive about learning about this hobby that has a lot of other amazing benefits for mental health and everything,” said Lee.
“The aesthetic of it, to connect with other people. It’s also a great tool for me to learn. It’s definitely not a one-way street, I am learning new things about plants every day, so it is a way to connect with that community.”
Lee said it is natural for a community to form around something like houseplants, because there is so much knowledge and information that can be shared. Physical plant clippings can be given away and will grow into their own plants.
“It’s cool how something that is more…not antiquated but the idea of cultivating or growing something is a very older thing, it’s always been around and then coupled with this new phenomenon of Instagram and then how things have grown around that is really cool and I feel really lucky to have benefitted from that.”
At its peak, Lee’s collection was as large as 260 plants. Now, she is living in a basement suite which required her to do some downsizing. She works 9-5, but makes sure to spend around half an hour each evening caring for her plants. On Sundays she tries to commit two hours maintaining the collection. This summer, she plans to start an outdoor garden as well.
With dry air, shorter days and colder temperatures, a basement during the winter months is not the ideal situation for even a single houseplant. But she manages to make her greenery thrive, and is happy to her share advice.
“I find climbing plants and trailing plants do okay, because they are creepy and on the forest floor, but your bigger plants struggle,” she said.
According to Lee, some of the most important factors to consider are the characteristics of a home when starting to care for plants.
“Just do a minimal amount of research in your space in terms of humidity and light levels and then try to buy a plant according to that rather than just going out and grabbing something,” she said.
“It’s really discouraging when the very first plant that you buy dies, so I feel if you start off on a good note you are more up to keep that ball rolling.”
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