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Jungalow: There's 230 Houseplants in This Chula Vista Abode

Cathy Martinez tells all about her houseplant obsession



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It all started with a single pothos last summer. “I got it from a swap meet. When we hung it, it brought this corner to life,” Cathy Martinez says, pointing to the dangling devil’s ivy. It snowballed from there to 230 houseplants engulfing her Chula Vista abode, now more aptly considered her “jungalow” (jungle + bungalow).

The front door carries the first indication of her decor—a wreath of air plants—and inside, the parlor houses her varieties that are comfortable in lower light conditions, like ferns, begonias, and snake plants. But the main attraction is in the back, in a patio-converted living room. It’s here where the original pothos hangs, and then some; there’s a counter for propagating (soaking plant cuttings in water so they spawn roots and can be replanted), and along the south-facing window, a lineup of light-loving greenery and more tropical varieties.

“I’ll buy from big-box stores, but prefer local nurseries, because the people who grow the plants know how to care for them, and they’ll teach you.” North Park Nursery, Eden, and Cordova Gardens in Encinitas are her go-tos.

Instagram, too, has been a good place to hone her green thumb. “Just plug in hashtag ‘houseplants,’ and there’s so much to learn. It’s a huge community to geek out over your plants, have discussions, and even swap cuttings. It’s like those baseball cards you’re trying to trade for a rare one. It’s quite a hobby.”

 

 

Key to the Garden

 

1. Plant curtain

Inspired by a display they saw in the boutique Pigment, Martinez’s husband fastened a ladder to the ceiling to hang her dangling varieties. They call it their “plant curtain.” “Really, any plant could be a hanging plant, but the ones that drape definitely look better.”

2. Pots

Like her greenery, Martinez considers her pots a part of her interior design. “I like a neutral palate. I’ll typically have a terracotta, because that’s a staple. Then I do light grays and pinks.”

3. Caladium

“I love pink plants, and this is my favorite right now,” Martinez says. “I try to use a pot that goes well with that color, like a gray or a gold.”

4. Monstera deliciosa

“She’s my queen,” Martinez says, noting she purchased it online from The People’s Plants. “It’s gives high impact right away.”

5. Moss Poles

“A lot of these plants want to climb in their natural settings. These moss poles encourage them to do that and become tall.”

6. Chinese money plants

Like anything on the market, houseplants are a supply-and-demand game. “My husband loves the Pilea. Two years ago, people went bananas over these. Now you can get them for just $15.”


Learn more about houseplant styling.

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