Cover Former scrapbook product designer Jessy has been working on her balcony garden since 2016 (Photo: Jessy Christopher-Tham)

Plant styling tips from Malaysian mother of two and 'plant mum' Jessy Christopher-Tham, whose garden balcony in KL is a green urban oasis

For stay-at-home mum Jessy Christopher-Tham, plants are both a passion and a part of daily life. Tham's spacious and cozy condo is proof of this, where foliage peeps out of unexpected places and blends in beautifully with the surroundings. Inspired by the plentiful natural light in her home and by plant-filled interiors on Pinterest, Tham began experimenting with succulents and indoor plants when she first started filling up her 600sf balcony.

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Today, her botanical exploits are faithfully documented on Instagram, where she also shares useful advice – anything from caring for indoor plants to capturing great plant photos. Looking for ways to incorporate more greenery in your own home while in lockdown? Follow these simple tips to get started.  

Starting with easy plants

"Sansevieria, pothos, scindapsus, monstera and philodendron are a few easy plants you can start with," shares Tham. "The Monstera species has always been one of my favourites. It can instantly liven up a space because of its large foliage and it gives you those tropical vibes." 

On top of doing a little research for yourself about the plants that will be under your care, resolve to dedicate time for your plants, growing the ones you have before stocking up on more.

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Light matters

Whether it's your living room, your bedroom or your kitchen, choose a spacious room in your house that gets a lot of natural light – that's where your plants will thrive. "Most times, new plant parents will just pick plants that they like without considering if their homes have adequate lighting and humidity for them," adds Tham. 

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Styling plants with everyday items

Now is the time to show off your resourcefulness and creativity. Rather than buy new garden accessories and stands, work with what you have at home: 

"I really love the idea of intertwining plants and furniture pieces together," Tham enthuses. "I use wooden, metal and plastic stools from Ikea as plant stands. A unused bed slat can be repurposed into a trellis to hang plants or for plants to climb."

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Make use of vertical space for quantity

While it's always great having more plants to add to your collection at home, you don't want to come back to a cluttered, cramped space either. If you only have narrow, small corners to work with, there's always the vertical space for creeper plants to crawl onto.

"I wanted to make use of the two-storey wall in my home to save space. My goal was not to clutter the garden with plants but create a place for me and my family to move around comfortably and enjoy together."

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Final thoughts

"Maintaining plants indoors requires some dedication; it can be done once you know how to tackle what they need," shares Tham. True to the adage that good things take time, plant owners should each day as it comes. Be committed to your plants without comparing yourself to others and without expecting a photo-ready setup overnight. Fittingly, Tham leaves this parting advice: "Remember, you are not in any competition and you don't need to impress others with your plants."

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