Green Living

The Plant Care Chronicles: For Hilton Carter, Plant Styling Is A Career

Hilton Carter's Baltimore apartment living room with many plants.

Welcome to The Plant Care Chronicles — a monthly series dedicated to breaking down individual indoor plant care routines and exploring plant care as a form of self-care.

We believe in the healing powers of plants, and want to shed a light on their many mental, physical, and spiritual health benefits.

This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Hilton Carter, the original “plant stylist” and author of Wild at Home and Wild Interiors.

Hilton Carter could be considered the O.G. “plantfluencer.” Rising to fame in 2017 after a prominent feature in The Washington Post, Carter drew attention from plant lovers for his extensive collection of 180 plants all living in his one-bedroom Baltimore apartment.

That number has since climbed to roughly 215, per Carter’s most recent guestimate. “Plus another 40 or so in my office,” he told Bloomscape. During our phone conversation, he shared that within just his immediate view he can spot over 25 plants, including a fiddle leaf fig, Australian tree fern, monstera, spindle palm, burgundy rubber tree, crown of thorns cactus, Chinese evergreen, kangaroo foot fern, and a mini Christmas cactus.

“I absolutely love living and working in a plant-filled environment, but care definitely becomes time-consuming,” he laughs.

While Carter’s home certainly typifies the millennial “urban jungle” dream, his relationship with plants is anything but ordinary. He’s built a career around his love of greenery, coining the term “plant stylist” while leading residential and retail plant decor projects all over the country.

“When I was pursuing a career as an interior stylist, it just so happened that I had a lot of plants in my apartment,” he explains. “Clients started asking for the same treatment in their homes.” Carter essentially created “plant styling” as an occupation, curating thoughtfully-designed arrangements with unique visual interest — many of which resemble art installations when complete.

By 2018, Hilton Carter turned his focus to writing and photography, authoring two best-selling books, Wild at Home and his latest release, Wild Interiors. While Wild at Home catalogs his own space and design projects, Wild Interiors takes readers to plant-filled homes from Los Angeles to Berlin for plant design inspiration.

What’s more impressive, Carter amassed this industry prowess and plant care knowledge in just nine short years. “My plant design story began in Pennsylvania in 2011,” he shares. “I found myself in a beautiful garden cafe-slash-greenhouse, and it was completely out of this world. That was the initial eye-opening moment for me — I was like, I’m missing something in my life.” 

From that moment on, Carter started slowly building a collection with a variety of plants and taught himself how to style and care for them. “Caring for and arranging indoor plants became that moment in my day where I could find a bit of meditation and separate myself from the chaos of my everyday schedule,” he shares. “I grew to appreciate the ritual just as much as the aesthetics.”

Today, Carter spends anywhere from 10 to 12 hours a week tending to his indoor garden. While he doesn’t stick to any sort of schedule, you’ll find him pruning, repotting, cutting, rotating, and watering his 200-plus plants nearly every day. “I try to make it as relaxing as possible,” he shares. “I usually light incense, play some music, and make my rounds.”

While Carter sits at the helm of our current houseplant renaissance, he doesn’t view plants as a trend.“People fall in and out of hobbies, but I’ll never fall out of wanting to have plants in my life,” he reflects. “It’s my way of life for the foreseeable future.”