Melbourne-based architect, interior designer and plant cultivator Jason Chongue launched The Plant Society as an online social hub for gardeners, offering help and information on must-have trends in the plant world.
Chongue’s incredible plant collection and unique interiors have been featured heavily across the Australian media and on international blogs.
In this interview, Chongue speaks about his love for all things green, which led him to launch The Plant Society, his new book on caring for plants in small urban spaces, his favourite plants, and his top tips for growing healthy plants.
Tell us a little about The Plant Society.
Basically The Plant Society are ambassadors for all things green. With studios and stores in Melbourne and Sydney, we promote positive and open conversations around gardening.
Through our outposts we hope to inspire you to nurture greenery in your home and help motivate a greener city.
You have a new book – ‘GREEN’. Tell us more.
Basically I explain and simplify how to curate and look after plants in small urban spaces. I provide a practical and personal guide to creating urban gardens and styling with plants, perfect for a range of environments and climates, inside or out.
Indoor plants are enjoying a huge resurgence. What are your top 3 trending plants for 2020?
I am in awe about the love people have for indoor and urban greenery! My three favourite plants this season are:
- Epipremnum aureum (Devil’s Ivy)
- Peperomia (Radiator Plant)
- Strelitzia Nicolai (Bird of Paradise)
What is the biggest opportunity to you as an influencer?
It’s been fantastic writing and styling my books. I’ve been so amazed how many people around the world have engaged and sent messages telling me how it has helped them nurture plants and also style their space to make it feel more homely.
How has social media shaped The Plant Society’s growth and development?
Social media has been a great platform for The Plant Society to launch itself and pass on our message and knowledge. I find myself balancing online communication with building relationships in person, and within communities. This balance allows me and the team to network as one would in the real world. We are always conscious that communities exist not online in digital media but in real life, so we need to connect and nurture in all ways possible.
You have a 60.8K following on Instagram. What sets your content apart?
Our growth in following has been amazing. I always select every photo and make sure it’s a vignette I love and that it helps followers with styling and the selection of plants you might try at home. Each photo has to reflect me and what I love. In a world where there is so much to take in, we keep our philosophy at heart with everything we do.
How do you source your Instagram content?
We take every photo ourselves as a team or work with our close photographers to make every image personal. Every product, object, scene and indoor jungle is our very own project.
Top 3 must-follow Instagram pages?
@heathernetteking: Heather is epic and I’m such a fan. Not only is she the most amazing person but her interiors are so rich in texture and colour.
@studiohearhear: Rena’s interiors and plant love are relatable and calming.
@clairetakacs: Amazing landscapes captured worldwide. An instant breath of fresh air.
What is next for you?
We’re excited to open another Outpost in Sydney in the next month. For me this year is about pause and reflection. We have grown tremendously over the last few years and this year I want to spend quality time with The Plant Society family and really work on perfecting what we do.
Top 10 tips for happy and healthy plants
- Plan well. Plan out the overall look you seek to achieve. This might include how many plants, where they will go and the style you envisage.
- Don’t be charmed by looks. We all make the mistake of choosing plants purely by how they look. It’s more important to choose plants by the natural lighting conditions they require.
- Know who you are as a gardener. If you are nervous about gardening, then choose plants that are easy to care for and low maintenance.
- Focus on the fundamentals. Plants are alive. They thrive off the fundamentals of water, light and nutrition. Focus on these and you can't go wrong,
- Take it slow. There is no rush when it comes to gardening. The plant world is on a journey of its own so make sure to slow down and enjoy the process.
- Care frequently. Check in on your plants regularly - my tip is every week.
- Don’t panic. When you have plant problems, don’t panic! Try to systematically pinpoint the problem. Like humans, plant illnesses take time to resolve.
- Speak up. Always ask for advice! With a multitude of plant types, you’ll always need help from family, friends, neighbours and online plant friends.
- Be yourself. Don’t fall for fads. You don’t have to follow the trends but instead focus on plants that relate to you.
- Always experiment. A great gardener always pushes the boundaries of what they grow. It’s great to try new plant types to challenge your skill set.
Photography: Armelle Habib