We are so thrilled to introduce a local partner, Kyle, who recently started a business called Propagate in Austin! Kyle is a friend of Flourish, is joining the team as a regular contributor to our Journal. Without further ado, meet our newest plant friend!
Tell us a little about you- what is your day job and some things that you LOVE?
Hey there! I’m born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and I now live in Austin, Texas (sorry Austin locals…). Although for the past three years I’ve taught 4th grade just outside Austin, I recently left my job to focus on my plant care company, Propagate. Beyond that, you can find me trying to locate the best cup of cold brew, attempting to not adopt a 4th cat, or taking a walk with my dog, Ivy, on one of Austin’s many trails.
When did you start collecting house plants, how has your collection changed over the years?
The collection is the definition of a pandemic hobby turned full blown obsession. If you compare a picture of all my houseplants from April 2020 with the explosion of tropical plants in my backyard currently, it’s truly unrecognizable. Teaching is a stressful job and like most people I need something to help me unwind after a long day. I found myself going down deep YouTube holes, exploring and learning about any and all plant varieties (shout out to @Nigel Saunders, of the Bonsai Zone!) It’s because of this research and passion that my collection so rapidly expanded. Watching my plants flourish and grow, and sharing my knowledge with others has provided me a sense of pride and fulfillment.
What was your first plant?
This is a sore subject. I was eight years old and my mom bought grapefruit at the grocery store. As we enjoyed it at home I was left with a small pile of seeds which I realized could potentially one day provide me with a constant supply. I wasted no time meticulously placing each seed on a wet paper towel, and moving them on to our kitchen window sill. Only one made it. Nearly 20 years later, that grapefruit tree has grown to about 8 feet tall and is still in my parents’ house. Unfortunately, my parents have developed an attachment to it and, despite my pleas, have yet to allow me to take it back to Texas. At least it brings them joy…
What is the most recent add to your collection?
Stopping by nurseries is something I do often whether it’s for me or Propagate. I usually tell myself to only get something small, and to remember the collection that already waits for me at home. Easier said than done. Recently, I bought a small elephant ear called ‘Regal Shields’ in a 4 inch pot. The dark leaves and purple undersides were super intriguing. When I got home, I began researching it, only to learn that I bought a mammoth of a plant. I moved it to a massive planter outside and, in just a month, is already taller than me! Oops…
Which plant do you cherish the most?
That’s tricky. That’s like choosing a favorite child. You definitely have one but no one can know about it. Between friends it’s probably my fiddle leaf fig since it’s a true testament to my plant journey. When I bought it it was already about 5 feet tall but it only took a couple weeks before it started dropping leaves. To the horror of my fiancée who had helped fund the purchase, I cut all the branches off. I was left with a single stubby twig. Not only did it come back, but it's bigger and more gorgeous than ever before. What a comeback story!
Favorite piece of plant advice that you have received?
You know the term spirit animal? That animal that just seems to embody the same qualities you see in yourself? Well there’s the plant version of that as well. It took me at least two years to learn that lesson. Find plants that bring you joy, and leave the rest at the nursery. When you choose a plant, you should have a connection with it. How could you expect yourself to love and nurture a plant that just doesn't interest you? Everyone has a spirit plant, you just have to find it. In my case, I have several hundred.
Any plant must haves - accessories or tools?
Have an aroid like a monstera or pothos? Get a moss pole. When these plants start growing “up,” they develop some amazing qualities: bigger leaves, fenestrations (holes in the leaf), and multiple stems from a single plant that really give the plant and the space it’s in that jungle vibe. Of course tropical aroids love Flourish Plant Food, so remember to give your climbing plants the nutrients they need!
What makes you feel the most like you are flourishing?
As silly as it seems I crave the quiet routine of my morning watering in my backyard greenhouse. Surrounded by the plants I’ve spent hours caring for, I flourish when I watch them grow bigger and bolder.