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Master Class

Indoor Plant Styling by Lisa Muñoz

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Banana bread, tie-dye and… gardening? As trends go, these three make for unlikely bedfellows, but they've all surged in popularity in our post-coronavirus lives. And while we've already shared a how-to on floral arrangements, plant care and design is a whole different endeavor—and, yes, we said plant design.

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Meet Lisa Muñoz, founder of the interior plant design firm Leaf and June. Here, she talks to us about her job and what it entails and, for the would-be green thumbs out there, shares a mini master class on plant styling for your own homes. "Beyond just being in the presence of plants," Muñoz says, "taking care of them and watching them thrive can be extremely therapeutic and that is absolutely something we all need right now."

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For the uninitiated—what exactly does a plant designer do?
As a plant designer, I work to introduce plants that will flourish and thrive based on the light, temperature, and humidity within the space while also taking into account the person’s schedule for plant care. That, I think, is the most important aspect of the job. With that in mind, I then identify specific areas that would be enhanced by plants and consider the existing design of the space when choosing planters. Once a design is approved, we source all of the plants, planters, and potting materials, pot everything, deliver and install the plants, and provide plant-care instructions—or alternatively, our team can care for the plants for you.

Where does your green thumb come from?
From lots and lots of reading, studying, researching, questioning, and trial and error. There was certainly a lot more error in the beginning, but once you’re able to gain an understanding of what plants need to thrive, it’s so rewarding and exciting. Both set of grandparents were avid gardeners and I would help in the garden when I was a kid, but I never really understood the "why" of what I was doing until I was a young adult who struggled to keep plants alive. From those experiences and learning, my love affair with plants became a thing that I sought to immerse myself in by working with gardeners and plant shops, ultimately leading me to start Leaf and June.

Plant shelfie. Top, from left: Thinking pink and prickly cacti; fiddle-leaf fig plants, a.k.a. Ficus lyrata; all photos via @leafandjune

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Why do you think indoor gardening has been growing in popularity lately?
I think that because people are spending a lot more time at home, the focus has turned toward making our homes even more comfortable and inviting than before. With that desire comes plants with their many positive attributes, like increasing focus, filtering toxins from the air, relieving stress, and making your home/office a place you want to be for extended periods of time. Beyond just being in the presence of plants, taking care of them and watching them thrive can be extremely therapeutic and that is absolutely something we all need right now.

Best indoor plants to invest in for summer?
During summer, I find that people are particularly excited by tropical plants, succulents, and cacti. Embracing those warmer temperatures draws you to those warm-weather loving plants.

And your personal favorite plant?
My personal favorite, though there are many, is the Ficus elastica—rubber tree. They’re robust, classic, and have deep green foliage that I absolutely love. They’re also resilient and do well in so many indoor environments.

New York-based interior plant designer, Lisa Muñoz

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Top 3 tips?
1. Select plants that will thrive in your home and keep in mind that, while you cannot mimic the plant’s natural habitat exactly, it’s something to aim for. Always try to gain a basic understanding of what a particular plant needs to survive before buying.
2. Group plants that have similar care requirements together. This will help maintain your watering and humidity levels.
3. When possible, add a variety of plant colors, heights, growth habits, and textures for added interest, allowing for each plant to stand out on its own amongst the group.

What's… plant music?
Plant music can be simply music you play for your plants or it can be music made by plants. If you’re not familiar with plants making music—I highly encourage you check it out. It gives you a whole new perspective on the activity and pulse of plants and how that is used to create music.
In terms of good plant music vs. bad plant music, I like to think that any music that makes you happy, likely makes your plants happy. But that said, I do love Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants, Mort Garson’s Plantasia, Baroque Bouquet’s Plant Music, and Minnie Riperton’s Come to My Garden, to name just a few.

Brooklyn's Other Times Vintage plant shop

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The tropical Swiss Cheese plant, a.k.a. Monstera deliciosa

Let the (plant) music play...

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