Philly Foliage • Nick Pileggi
There are 1.56 million people in Philadelphia. If each of them had three houseplants, that would bring nearly FIVE MILLION new plants into the city - to clean our air, bring some green indoors, and (let's face it) bring a little more happiness into the world. Until everyone else catches up, Nick is picking up the slack with his indoor jungle of 120+ houseplants.
If you're thinking to yourself "I'd love to do that, but I have a black thumb.." stop already! But definitely keep reading - Nick's refreshing honesty + candor will definitely change your mind. His approach - stop crying over dead plants, do embrace new things, don't be afraid to "fail," and follow your bliss! Let's face it - the journey (and the destination) are always more interesting when you do what makes you happy - just because it makes you happy! If you want to dip your toe in the water before you jump in, check out his Instagram + YouTube channel for some inspiration and tips on how to get started!
What’s the story behind where you are today?
Truly a sequence of wrong turns. From school into my work life, I was always making the choices that felt right at the time but ultimately ended up wrong. My hobbies that I absolutely loved would become nothing more than mundane tasks, and it was unsettling to feel like the things I used to enjoy were constantly losing their luster. Little did I realize, all while I was struggling to feel like I had a true passion, one was growing. Literally.
While in college, a friend was over my apartment for the first time and asked why I didn’t have any plants. And I really didn’t know the answer, since gardening was something I loved doing with my dad as a child. That weekend, I went to a local hardware store and picked out a plant, which was a Dracaena fragrans or a “Corn Plant”. It made me so happy! I had no idea a single plant could have such an effect on me. That was the first houseplant of now over 120, and I would undeniably be lying if I said I was even closed to being finished; I really don’t think I’ll ever stop acquiring plants! It was definitely my love of plants but lack of actual plant friends that inspired me to turn to social media. The houseplant community that has developed on platforms like Instagram and YouTube is absolutely incredible, and I am so grateful to be a part of it.
I would say, overall, I get where I am and grow as a person by taking everything one step at a time. It’s important to walk from point A to point B. This gives you time to process and to prepare. If you run, you’re just going to be tired before you even get there.
What’s your Why?
Besides my cat physically nudging me out of bed to feed her every morning as well as all of the plants I have to water, I’m so in love with the idea that we never know what each day has in store, whether it’s the people we’ll talk to, the things we’ll do, the connections we’ll make. Of course, we have some control over the events that are molded into one day, but it’s the unexpected happenings that truly excite me to the core. These events are also the ones that I believe help shape us as overall individuals.
What’s on the list for today? What’s next?
Today is all about the plants, baby. Now that it’s spring, I’ve been keeping myself busy with my indoor garden, and am hoping soon to get started on a small outdoor garden now that I have an outdoor space to utilize. As a plant parent, each day involves the obvious: watering, examining leaves, rotating pots. Then, there are the choices you make with your plants today that are for the future, like pruning to encourage more growth, or propagating to create new plants.
Speaking of the future, I have some ideas to put into fruition. As I mentioned before, I like to take everything one step at a time, but I definitely would like to begin to feature some other “plant people” of Philadelphia to show off their coveted houseplant collections and hear their words of wisdom. Everyone has such a different story, and I would really love to give people an opportunity to share.
What’s one thing that you’d like people to know?
You don’t have a black thumb! I hear so many people say “I love plants, but I always kill them!” Let me just say, I have killed my fair share of plants. In fact, I can’t even count how many I’ve killed, but I always try to learn something from it (i.e. Did it die from overwatering? Neglect? Too much or too little light?). And I totally get that some of us are so busy with work and social lives that it can be hard to keep up with houseplants, often leading to either overwatering or under-watering. My word of advice is, if you find your plants dying from neglect, try out a Snake Plant. On the other hand, if you think you might be a little heavy-handed with the watering can, I’d consider a Prayer Plant (one of my favorites!). Caring for houseplants and watching them grow is so unbelievably rewarding and exciting, it’s something I want to encourage everyone out there to experience.
Inspired to start your own #urbanjungle?
Here are some of our favorite resources for new plant parents!
Click to open in iBooks!