It’s no secret that the Bloomscape staff is filled with a bunch of plant fanatics with an undying fascination for all living, breathing greenery. From landscape designers and accredited horticulturalists to people that practically grew up in greenhouses, many of our staff have spent their lives observing, growing, and cultivating plants.
That said, we realize that Grow-How™ — or the knowledge, confidence, and resources needed to raise thriving plants — is just as important as the plants themselves. In fact, our in-house plant care team is named after this important mission and helmed by our resident Plant Mom, Joyce Mast. Through webinars, blog posts, videos, and Q&As, we hope to empower our Bloomscape family (and all fellow plant lovers) to turn indoor and outdoor gardening into a lifelong passion.
In the interest of shedding a much-deserved spotlight on our hardworking plant squad, we’re profiling a few members of our Grow-How™ Team. First up, meet Leah Van Namen, Lindsay Pangborn, and Emma Hondzinski — three plant enthusiasts and botanical experts that make caring for plants easy.
Leah Van Namen, Plant Care Support Specialist
How did you become interested in plants? My family is in the wholesale floral industry and greenhouse business, so I grew up around plants, and my mom was also a really avid gardener. I loved growing up around these big, beautiful flower beds and hand-picking bouquets for my family and friends. I didn’t really get into houseplants until my early 20’s, but I still have the first two plants my mom gifted me!
What do you love most about caring for plants? I’m always learning! There are new research and plant species being discovered out every day. I’ve also learned a lot about ecology and nature itself, specifically how plants respond to their environment. You really get to put your observation skills to the test. Each plant also has unique care requirements, so it’s a fun challenge getting a new plant and learning how to care for it.
Do you have any plant care pro tips? Don’t stress too much! Plants are supposed to be fun and educational. I found that my plants are happiest when I allow my plants to do their own thing. It’s easy to smother your plants, especially if they’re not doing well, but owning plants is really about trial and error. Everyone is bound to make mistakes (which includes killing the occasional plant!). Take these lessons and keep learning and evolving.
What are your hobbies outside of work? Plants! I have around 300, so I’m taking care of them pretty much every day. My Saturday plans almost always involve hitting up at least one plant store or nursery. I also love to cook and eat, so my boyfriend and I are always trying new restaurants or new recipes at home. I’m also fortunate enough to live 20 minutes from the beach, so I try to go as much as possible.
Leah’s Favorite Indoor Plants:
It’s really hard for me to just pick one ficus because I love them all! They get a bad rap for being finicky, but they’re really rewarding when you get the hang of them.
There are so many varieties of philodendrons, and they’re all pretty easygoing in terms of plant care. I just crossed the Philodendron Pink Princess off my wishlist and I can’t get enough of the colors.
The colors are so dreamy on the Stromanthe Triostar, and I’ve found these plants are a little easier than some of their Calathea cousins.
Lindsay Pangborn, Gardening Expert at Bloomscape
How did you become interested in plants? I’ve always loved the outdoors and exploring constructed outdoor spaces. Plants add so much character to those outdoor spaces, and when I realized that I could study plants and design in college, that’s really when my love of plants started.
I attended Ohio State University and studied horticulture with a focus on ornamental horticulture and landscape design. I was able to study abroad in the U.K. where I got to see and research a lot of impressive, long-standing gardens.
I’ve worked as a horticulturist for 10 years and in horticultural marketing for five. During my time working in the industry, I’ve met so many wonderful and passionate plant people that I can’t imagine working in any other field.
What do you love most about caring for plants? I enjoy observing the little day-to-day developments as plants grow and change throughout the seasons. Caring for plants is such a relaxing activity — I try to take a few minutes out of every day to focus on my plants, whether it’s watering, weeding, or just checking in on how they’re growing.
Do you have any plant care pro tips? Erring toward underwatering can lead to a stronger, more resilient plant — this is true for both indoor and outdoor plants. Infrequent, deep waterings encourage the roots to grow deep and wide as they search for water. This means that in a period of drought (or a missed watering), the roots are more developed and have better access to any remaining moisture in the soil.
What are your hobbies outside of work? I like gardening in my personal time, along with exploring new places with my family in our 1974 motorhome that we’re in the process of renovating. I’m outdoors nearly all the time in the warmer months — biking, hiking, boating, and spending time in my garden. I love to arrange flowers, try local craft beers, and listen to podcasts.
Lindsay’s Favorite Indoor Plants
The Fatsia Japonica has been on my wish list for a while, and we recently introduced it at Bloomscape. I’ve had mine for a few months, and it’s such an easygoing plant! Indoors, I water it once every 10 days or so, and it gets dappled afternoon sun in a west-facing window. The leaves are big, bold, and shiny, and have a bit of white variegation around the edges.
This is such an easy plant that adds a lot of life and interest to our decor over the winter months. It lives outdoors for the summer where it gets morning sun and is (mostly) protected from the wind. I love the height it gives when placed in a space as well as the tropical look of the large leaves!
Schefflera is such a nostalgic plant for me. My family wasn’t big on plants when I was growing up, but we did have a few houseplants, and my favorite was always our potted schefflera shrub. Schefflera are another super easy houseplant that’s forgiving of typical indoor environments, and they can lend such interesting texture to a room.
Emma Hondzinski, Plant Care Support Specialist
How did you become interested in plants? My interest in plants started as a kid — loved spending time outdoors and joined the Garden Club in elementary school. I loved flowers and often helped plant the gardens on our school grounds.
During college, I lived in Australia for a year, and that’s when I really started to fall in love with houseplants as an adult. I was an Au Pair, and two of the families I lived with had a lot of plants in their space. Their homes felt so welcoming, cozy, and lush — I felt like I was living in a jungle.
That experience made me excited to come back home to the U.S. after my year abroad to create my own mini indoor jungle. I’ve only accumulated more plants since starting at Bloomscape, and you could say I’m definitely obsessed! I love houseplants and helping other people care for them.
What do you love most about caring for plants? I truly enjoy watching them grow. It’s cheesy, but seeing new growth brings me so much joy! I also find caring for plants therapeutic — I love to take my time watering them and admiring their beauty.
Do you have any plant care pro tips? If your plant is stressed or has been struggling, avoid using fertilizer to help “fix” the plant. Plant food can cause more harm than good when your plant is failing to thrive. It’s best to fertilize your plants when they are happy, healthy, and actively growing during the spring and summer months.
What are your hobbies outside of work? I love to read, go on bike rides, and cook delicious vegan food! I also enjoy traveling (in non-pandemic times).
Emma’s Favorite Indoor Plants
These plants are so gorgeous! I’m in love with their fenestrations. My monstera is always sprouting new growth, and it’s incredible to watch the leaves unfurl.
I love how laid back the Sansevieria plant is. It’s super hardy and one of the best plants for beginners. I also love the look of it from a decor perspective — it certainly adds dimension to any room!
Prayer Plants are so fun to own. They’re fast growers, and they noticeably “pray” by moving their leaves up and down at different times of day, which is amazing to witness.
Need Plant Care Help? Reach Out to the Grow-How™ Team
Our Grow-How™ Team is here to help you become a better plant person. If your plant is failing to thrive, or you need help identifying the latest trendy houseplant featured on Instagram, contact us and we can help get your plant back on track.