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Plant-Loving Homeowner Grows 'Jungle' in Her Duplex

September 7, 2021
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Jessy collects a huge variety of plants at home, from succulent to alocasia, philodendron, and anthurium, and shares tips on being a plant parent.

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If you think your obsession with house plants has gotten out of hand (especially since the pandemic hit), you must see this apartment in Damansara, Selangor. The homeowner, Jessy Christopher-Tham, loves to surround herself with greenery, and her passion for plants has resulted in the most beautiful plant-filled indoor ‘jungle’ we've ever seen!

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These plants can be seen draping from the second floor down to the living room, as well as a vertical garden made of a wooden frame in the balcony and various potted plants scattered throughout the duplex. We spoke with Jesse to learn more about her extensive plant collection, as well as how she keeps them alive and healthy.

About her family and home

Hi, my name is Jessy Christopher-Tham, I’m a stay-at-home-mum while my husband, Eric Tham is an actuary. We have 2 beautiful girls aged 8 and 5 years old. We also have a cat called Tuffie!

We live in a 3000 square foot duplex with 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms in Damansara, Petaling Jaya. We decorated our space with a modern interior and a heavy dose of greenery!

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About her interest in growing plants at home

When I was younger, I had no interest in plants, despite witnessing my parents' dedication to caring for the patch of garden in front of the house.

My interest began five years ago when we moved into our duplex. I noticed a lot of light pouring into the living room, which inspired me to decorate the area with some plants I bought from IKEA. From there, I gradually ventured out to buy a few more from local nurseries and started decorating the rest of the home and well as our balcony with various plant species.

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On the types of plants that can be found around her home

Currently, I own various plants species such as philodendron, monstera, caladium, succulent, alocasia, anthurium, scindapsus, pothos and a few others which can be found in various places around the duplex including the kitchen, living room, bedroom and the dining area.

I have never really counted how many plants I have and I rather not know (laughs), but I frequently share photos of my plants on social media, and this has resulted in a growing following! In particular, my followers enjoy seeing the monstera corner, the aroid wall, and the succulent vertical garden on my balcony.

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On where she purchases her plants

I bought them from private collectors, as well as local and outstation nurseries. I also buy plants from online shopping platforms such as Shopee and Facebook gardening groups. Aside from that, I also received plants that were given to me by friends.

When I go to a nursery, I only look for plants that thrive in a shaded area because my balcony is only suitable for plants that need shade but are bright. I won't buy plants that require direct sunlight or very bright light all day because I know I won't be able to provide such an environment for them at home especially since I live in a high-rise building.

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When I purchase a plant, I will make sure that it is within my price range, so if you want to start collecting plants for your home, I recommend that you start by purchasing common plants from local nurseries or Shopee. The prices are quite reasonable!

On growing healthy plants at home

I really don't spend a lot of time caring for my plants, unless I need to repot or prune the leaves.

After enrolling my youngest child in her first online class, I'd simply walk around the home and balcony watering the plants that needed watering.

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Besides watering, keeping a plant healthy actually requires very minimal maintenance. All I need to do is clean the dust off my plants, especially those kept indoors. Aside from that, I'll inspect the plant for pests.

When I arrange plants around the home, I'll make sure they get sufficient light to grow healthy. For example, on my balcony, I have two corners with different lighting conditions. I keep all of my succulents in an area that receives at least 4-5 hours of direct morning sunlight per day. Meanwhile, I place my alocasia, philodendron, anthurium, and other plant species in an area that receives dappled morning sunlight for about 1-2 hours a day and is completely shaded.

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On how her family supports her hobby

My husband is extremely supportive and admires my extensive plant collection. He even assisted me in the construction of wooden frames and succulent pallets for the plants in our garden. My daughters are also aware of my passion for plants. They are aware that they should also care for and respect them.

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Jessy’s tips on caring for plants at home

1. Finding the right plants for your home

Different plants thrive in different environments, so before purchasing a plant, consider how much light your home receives and do some research on the plants that thrive in this type of light exposure. Keep in mind that all plants enjoy light, and that lowlight is also considered light.

2. Do not overwater your plants

When you ask the nursery staff how to care for a plant, you'll often hear them say things like, “This pot can be watered daily if it’s a very hot day please water twice a day.” You should take their advice with a pinch of salt because the nursery staff/owner is sharing their experiences in the nursery environment where the plants are exposed to bright direct sunlight and heat far greater than your balcony or maybe around your home.

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Bugs and insects will appear if your plants are overwatered, so inspect the soil before watering to keep pests at bay. As a general rule, you should water your plants when the topsoil is dry. You should also water until it drains out.

3. Remove the plastic lining under your pots

When you purchase a plant, keep an eye out for a plastic lining under your pots. If you are unaware of this, the water will become trapped at the bottom and the roots will rot, even if the topsoil appears to be drier. So be sure to take a peek at the bottom of the vase before you place it in your garden or your indoor space.

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