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Darryl Cheng | The Importance of Proper Plant Lighting & Plant Courses | Wine Down the Week Ep 7

Cover Photo Darryl Cheng

Darryl Cheng is the creator of the incredibly popular blog and Instagram account, House Plant Journal. Darryl’s passion for plants and engineering approach have turned him into one of the most trusted resources of the internet houseplant world. What was initially a hobby Tumblr page has turned into an Instagram account with over half a million followers, a foundational houseplant care book entitled ‘The New Plant Parent’, a game-changing online course, and plant time-lapse videos that have gone viral around the world.

 

Where you can find Darryl:

Website: https://www.botaniful.ca/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/botanifulyeg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/botaniful/

Thank you to our drink sponsor Christmas City Spirits. Christmas City Spirits focus on historical distillations and old family recipes, Martha’s Lemonade with Cherry Bounce, a delicious cherry cordial made with dark cherries, cloves, and cinnamon.  You can find them at https://suninnbethlehem.org/christmas-city-spirits/

Wine Down the Week is created in partnership with:

Soltech Solutions: https://soltechsolutions.com/
Steel City Plant Co: https://steelcityplantco.com
Domaci Home: https://domacihome.com
Lehigh Valley With Love: https://lehighvalleywithlovemedia.com

Transcription:

Darryl  0:00  

They might assume: “Oh, it’s because it’s this plant. Therefore, I will water it the same as you!” The analogy I give is back to the gas tank, which is: If I have a Honda Civic and I tell you I put gas in it roughly once a week, that doesn’t mean that – if you also have a Honda Civic that therefore you must put gas on once a week. it’s by usage – not based on the type of car right? 

 

Angie  0:25  

That’s… I’m stealing that analogy there. 

 

Darryl  0:26  

Go ahead. Go ahead. Yes.

 

Angie  0:38  

Hey, plant fam. Welcome to Wine Down The Week With Angie, I’m your host Angie, owner of Steel City Plant Company here in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This podcast is brought to you by SolTech Solutions. Today we chat with Darryl Chang. He’s the creator of the incredibly popular blog and Instagram account Houseplant Journal. Darryl’s passion for plants and engineering approach, have turned him into one of the most trusted resources of the internet houseplant world. What was initially a hobby Tumblr page has turned into an Instagram account with over half a million followers! A foundational houseplant care book entitled The New Plant Parent, a game changing online course, and plant time lapse videos that have gone viral around the world. Welcome, Darryl.

 

Darryl  1:21  

Hello, Angie, nice to meet you. Thank you so much for that intro. 

 

Angie  1:25  

Thank you so much for being here. We’re so excited to chat with you! You’re doing incredible things for the plant community, and we just can’t wait to hear all about it. 

 

Darryl  1:33  

Oh, thank you so much haha. 

 

Angie  1:34  

Your background is amazing. I mean, as expected, right? 

 

Darryl  1:38  

I almost feel like these days with us plant parents we’re like competing to see who can get more plants in their background –

 

Angie  1:43  

– in their background, right! I know I try to switch it up every week and focus on some different plants give them the spotlight a little bit. So we’re gonna kick it off with an icebreaker. It’s called Petal and Bud. So Petal is something that has happened recently that you’re excited about! And Bud is something that’s coming up that you’re excited about as well. So something already happened, and then something coming up. 

 

Angie  2:08  

So I’ll kick it off to give you an idea. So something that happened recently, that I’m excited about…Halloween! I just love this time of year. So Halloween was a really, really fun time – I did Salem (MA) with my mom. And then we did just a Halloween Marathon and we went out to a new cider place in town on Halloween night. So that was just a really fun time. My cousin got married on Halloween as well! So really cool, spooky wedding. Upcoming? Christmas! So I talked about this last week, but Christmas in Bethlehem has officially pretty much started – it’s going to kick off on November 19 with our tree lighting ceremony in town. So we’re here at the plant shop, getting all the Christmas inventory unpacked and getting our Christmas cacti ready to go… and just really excited. So, instead of just being in our shop like normal, we’re also going to have an old German-style Christmas Hut down on Main Street. So we’ll be down outside as well as having the shop so it will be kind of in two places at once. So really excited about that. 

 

Darryl  3:12  

Very nice. Very nice. Okay! so yes, so for me Petal…. That will be something that just happened?….Well, it was my birthday on the 30th of October. So uh,

 

Angie  3:23  

Happy Birthday! 

 

Darryl  3:24  

thank you. Thank you. Um, yeah, just, yeah, happy to be able to celebrate with some, well, mostly my brother and his three kids. So they – you know, they’re there, lots of fun! Yeah. And then, Bud?…in terms of bud….Oh! Well, I’m sure we’ll discuss this in the podcast, but um, I’m currently working on a light meter. And so that’s “budding!” Hopefully by sometime early next year, It should be out. So yeah, that’s something I’m really excited about, and happy to share that news with you guys as well! 

 

Angie  4:00  

That’s amazing. I cannot wait to dig deeper into that. I think it sounds like something everybody could use! 

 

Darryl  4:05  

Yeah, yeah yeah. 

 

Angie  4:06  

Oh, I feel like we’re getting the inside scoop today. So I can’t wait to hear about that. So… what are you drinking today?

 

Darryl  4:14  

Drinking….I’m very, very boring here. Just a cup of water with lemon is just so refreshing. And that’s honestly one of my favorite drinks. 

 

Angie  4:26  

Like everybody says we are a bunch of houseplants that need constant water and sunlight ourselves! So, a good reminder to drink your water at home. I am drinking Christmas City Spirits. So I can actually see their distillery right across the street from our shop. So they’re here in Downtown Bethlehem, a distillery here. So Christmas here at City Spirits focuses on historical distillations and old family recipes. So Martha’s Lemonade, that’s what I’m drinking. It’s made with “Cherry Bounce”, a delicious cherry cordial made with dark cherries, cloves and cinnamon – and it’s mixed with vodka that they make so… very delicious very fall-y!

 

Darryl  5:02  

Yeah sounds – Yeah sounds sounds that way!

 

Angie  5:04  

Cheers!

 

Darryl  5:06  

Cheers indeed.

 

Angie  5:10  

Alright, so we’re gonna play a little drinking game… It is modeled off of a memory game. So it’s going to be about – plant care tools. So I’m going to say: “I went to the plant shop and I bought…. ‘a tool’. You have to then repeat what I said: “She went to the shop and bought ‘a blank’ and I went to the shop and bought ‘something’, and then we have to keep building off of each other…. till the first person messes up. Then the game’s over! okay, I’ll start…. aaah!

 

Darryl  5:39  

I don’t have that short term memory!

 

Angie  5:42  

Okay, good. I should win then! I got this. I’ve been losing these games! So I need… I need a win. “I went to the plant shop and bought… shears.”

 

Darryl  5:53  

All right. So: “You went to the plant shop and bought shears, and I went to the plant shop and bought some ‘pots’. 

 

Angie  6:01  

Okay, I went to the plant shop and bought shears – you went to the plant shop and bought pots, I went to the plant shop and bought …mmm soil! Is that a tool?

 

Darryl  6:17  

Sure. So – She went… you went to the plant shop to get shears. I went to the plant shop to get some pots. Then you went to the plant shop to get some soil and I went to the plant shop and got some grow lights. 

 

Angie  6:31  

Ooh, good one. Okay, I went to the plant shop to buy shears. You went to the plant shop for pots. I went to the plant shop for soil. You wen to the plant shop for grow lights. I went to the plant shop for….Dammit, see? I said I’m bad at this – It always lose! Okay….I bought, a watering can!

 

Darryl  7:03  

Okay, so you went to the plant shop and buy some shears. I went to the plant shop and got some pots. You went to the plant shop to get some soil. I went to the plant shop to get some grow lights. You went to the plant shop…to get some…some…oh! to get a watering can, and I went to the plant shop to get the fertilizer. 

 

Angie  7:35  

Oh good – Okay! I went to the plant shop to get shears, you went to the plant shop to get pots. I went to the plant shop to get soil, you went to the plant shop to get grow lights. I went to the plant shop to get… a watering can, you went to the plant to get fertilizer? Did I miss anything? 

 

Darryl  7:59  

Nope.

 

Angie  7:59  

No. I went to the plant shop to get…a mister.

 

Darryl  8:08  

Okay, so you went to the plant shop to get shears, I went to the plant shop to get some pots. You went to the plant shop to get some soil. I went to the plant shop to get… some grow lights. You went to the plant shop to get a watering can, I went to the plant shop to get fertilizer, you went to the plant shop to get a mister, And….I went to the plant shop….to get a trowel.

 

Angie  8:47  

Sigh, I went to the plant shop to get…shears? You went to the plant shop to get pots. I went to the plant shop to get…..I don’t know if I…….hmmm…..wait, not shears? aaagh I lose!! I’ll drink! What was it?

 

Darryl  9:20  

I think that one was soil! 

 

Angie  9:23  

Grrr Darn it! All right. Well, I lose again. Your short term memory is not that bad!

 

Darryl  9:30  

It’s – I think it’s because we’re talking about plant stuff. I’m like, “Ooh, I like, Yeah.”

 

Angie  9:33  

You can absorb it! All right, well, let’s get into it. So first, let’s hear about this light meter. 

 

Darryl  9:42  

Oh, sure. Yes. So I think -if anybody has read my book or you know, reads some of my Instagram posts and such, people know that my favorite thing to do is measure light. I literally have like 10 different light meters spectrometers, power meters and regular light meters.

 

Darryl  10:03  

So I’m a little obsessed, but only because, like, I really feel like – having a good sense of how bright, or how strong your light is, is so critical to really setting your expectations on how well the plant should do. And in a sense, also being like, you know, having a more calibrated sense realistically compared to like, say – a nursery. I think everybody knows: “Okay, yeah, if your windows are bigger, you got more light. If you have a nursery like, you know, like this diffusion material overtop, that gets more light. But rarely do people actually have a sense of exactly how much is it? Like how much more? And when I first started with plant care – right away when I read – Oh, give it bright, indirect light, I asked myself: “what exactly does that mean?” right? And when they say ‘medium’, when they say ‘moderate,’ they will say ‘low’ like: “Okay, well give me some objective, quantifiable thing.” So then I brought it with me here! Just got myself this cheap-o light meter, and just went around and realize that: “Whoa, light levels are like really different at not only just, like, all times of the day, but even just what seems to be short, you know, distances from the window, it can drastically drop off. Same with, you know, distance from a grow light, it drastically drops off, right? And yet, our eyes fool us into thinking: “Oh, it all feels the same”, right? Because, you know, eyes – people adjust all the time. So basically, I’ve been using this funny looking light meter all these years. And like, you know, getting more and more [of them] – but I always felt like I should make my own that has…. you know….let’s be honest – looks a little sleeker than something like this.

 

Angie  11:51  

Yup!

 

Darryl  11:53  

And also that I’m working on having it include temperature and humidity sensing as well. So it’ll be three tools in one.

 

Darryl  12:03  

Yeah, so that’s, that’s what I’ve been working on. I’ve been working on it with like a designer and such since the beginning of 2021. And now, we’re getting to the stage of like, actually manufacturing and stuff. So that’s really exciting. It’s something like – I’ve always dreamed of… of making a tool of some kind. So this is something that I’m super excited about. And yeah, just excited to share with everybody! in…. later, probably 2022. 

 

Angie  12:27  

That’s amazing! Congratulations, first. Second, I mean… what’s your background in!? And so are you the scientific brain behind the actual engineering of it? 

 

Darryl  12:39  

Yeah, so my background is engineering…however, it wasn’t like, it wasn’t electrical engineering. So I can’t actually like design the circuit board or anything. I just more like managing the workflow. And I like I know how to -you know- source manufacturers and those kinds of things. So, I’ve been using that to kind of… you know, make this experience of building a light meter. Something that, you know – now, I think most of the time when people say they want to design a product, usually they tell you: “make sure that other people want to use it. It’s not just something for yourself, right?” But I’ll be honest, this is for myself, yeah. It was my always my dream to like not have to walk around awkwardly with THIS -to be able to measure light and make some kind of accurate assessment of this, you know, light situation. And then on top of that – light, temperature and humidity. And then that way, you know, my dream is that —  if every plant parent had a light meter… not even necessarily mine… but just a light meter… that we would all be able to communicate light levels in a more cohesive manner. So when somebody says to you: “Oh, I, like my snake plant’s not doing well. Oh, it’s in bright, indirect light! Okay”. I go home, and I put it in what I think is bright, indirect light. Now flip the situation and pretend we all had light meters. And I said: “Oh, most of the day for my snake plant, it’s 400 foot candles, then someone else would be like.. Oooh, I’m going home…. and where I currently put it.. It’s only 50! No wonder it’s doing so poorly”. It’s also that we can, again have that better expectation for how the plant is doing. And I think…when you measure the light level…. then what you’re really measuring is, (is sort of indirectly), like the rate of photosynthesis that’s currently going on in the plant. And, when we know what that means to a plant, which is…. it’s a little sugar factory powered by light! Then… if you put a plant where there’s only 50 foot candles or something, then what you’re saying is like it’s like a company who whose annual revenue is very small and they have to work very lean, right? Whereas, you put it where it’s 400 foot candles -Well, now you think of it. Oh, this is a thriving company. It’s like got great, great revenue, great margins. All this kind of, good stuff. And I don’t know… that’s just kind of how I connect with plants, is knowing how well they’re photosynthesizing. 

 

Angie  15:10  

Yeah! It just it, like you said, it quantifies the whole experience for people who are inexperienced. Like now they have tangible numbers – facts – to be able to work with – so that you’re not just kind of in the dark. Oh, literally! You can use that for free! 

 

Darryl  15:31  

So exactly what you mentioned… something you said I really liked was…. “tangible”, right? So, when we talk about watering, if I said to you: “buy water once a week”. That’s tangible, So you know that, for me, at least, it works to water X type of plant once a week. But the problem with how the plants work is that — for me, it’s once a week given my light situation. So if I just tell you: Bright, indirect light, and water once a week. If you then go and water your plant once a week, and you think that you’re giving it bright, indirect light, then it may not work so well. However, if I said to you: “oh, on average, it’s 400 foot candles, and I water once a week”. Then you have two things to look for: which is – is my plant in the range of 400 foot candles? Who knows? it could be 800 if you have a bigger window – it could be 200, if you put it farther away. So… it’s just giving people two things that are concrete. And it’s almost like having having two data points is usually better than just one, right? 

 

Angie  16:33  

Yeah, absolutely. What would you say that…. I know, you get asked so many questions on your Instagram account about plant care….. Would you say lighting is the number one concern that people have? 

 

Darryl  16:44  

Mm hmm. Boy, well, sorry… it’s not even…. It’s not even their concern. It’s… I’M concerned that they don’t even really care about it. Or not that they don’t care, but that they’re just – literally – so in the ‘dark’ about it. Right? Because, you know, when – again, I’m going to come back to this again – you tell them bright, indirect light – and the person’s like: “oh, okay, so I guess that means I can put it anywhere out of direct sun….okay, so that goes like, you know, off to the side of a window”. But then, again, objectively, if I went over to that corner and measured the light, and it was 50 foot candles, which by the way -50 Foot Candles is plenty bright to see! – But then you don’t even realize the plant is just sitting there starving, not producing, you know, from photosynthesis, right? 

 

Darryl  17:38  

But then it leads to this idea that people think: “oh, overwatering is the number one killer!” But really, it’s that – it’s not that you were watering it too much or too frequently – it’s that the whole plant system just wasn’t even wasn’t even working, right? Like the engine wasn’t even on, and you’re like: “Oh, I’m throwing gas on it, how come it’s not going?” You know, like, that’s the kind of…. once again, back to the engineering…. I look at it like a system. So – it’s not just like following a bunch of random directions – but rather: Step One is make sure it has enough light. Step Two is then water it accordingly, meaning – when the soil dryness is reaches whatever is appropriate for that plant – and then, you know, the all the extra stuff, fertilizing, repotting in time and all that kind of stuff – all follows from having adequate light first. 

 

Angie  18:30  

Yeah, it needs to be doing what it needs to be doing. Like you said!

 

Darryl  18:34  

it needs to be working….

 

Angie  18:35  

The whole system needs to be ON – for anything else to be able to work. ugh So interesting! I’m so excited for you, can’t wait to buy one of my own and put my light system into..like.. I want to go home to my apartment and figure it out.

 

Darryl  18:51  

Thanks.

 

Angie  18:52  

I want to know now, if they’re in the right places! So what’s your number one tip for beginner plant parents? Especially people that don’t understand this whole system? What’s an easy starting point? What would you tell them? 

 

Darryl  19:06  

Mm hmm. I would say, whatever plant you get, if it’s, you know – “typical houseplant” – I would say 90% of the time, you’re going to read the instruction and it’ll say bright, indirect light, okay? Which I interpret to mean, (and remember, I’m interpreting it based on having gone around and measured light everywhere), okay, you need to put the plant as close to your window as possible. That’s step one. Step two is then assess how long the sun actually shines directly on the plant. If that duration exceeds, I don’t know, two or three hours…. Of course, every plant has different kind of tolerances for that…. If that duration exceeds two or three hours, then you might want to block it with a white sheet or kind of thin curtain. Or, the thing is if you move it back, then the indirect light that comes from just the overall view of the sky. It, it will change. And again, a light meter will tell you exactly how much but that’s why…. like, that advice that I just gave is assuming that people just don’t want to think about the light meter and all that stuff…. they just want: “just tell me where to put it!” ans I’ll tell you right around the window. 

 

Angie  20:19  

Yeah. 

 

Darryl  20:20  

And then the second piece of advice about watering is that, you know, don’t approach watering as if every plant had some kind of intrinsically described schedule. Meaning like, oh, “Pothos – 7 days, snake plant – 10 days, monstera – 7 days”. Like… it’s not like that. Instead, approach it as – “You need to regularly check on the soil. And then when the soil reaches the appropriate level of dryness, then give it a nice thorough watering.” Now I just said, ‘appropriate’ level of dryness, and if you put a star there, there’s only three levels of dryness that you’re looking for. 

 

Darryl  21:00  

If it’s a Maidenhair Fern, or anything where the instruction says ‘keep evenly moist’, that means that you water it when the soil reaches almost like, 75% dry. If it gets halfway dry….you know, maidenhair fern, I’m sure you’ve maybe experienced it…. like the whole thing just turns to a crisp, right? 

 

Angie  21:17  

Yeah! 

 

Darryl  21:18  

So that’s one type of watering strategy. The next one is water when ‘partially dry’, so anywhere between 50 down to 25% of you know….. left in the gas tank of water…. let’s call it – then that’s the time when you water it. And, majority of tropical foliage is going to be that type of watering. And then the last type is water only when it’s ‘completely dry’. – Snake plants, ZZ plant, Cacti, Succulents – All of these are, you know, you don’t water it until the soil is bone dry. And, I think when people approach it that way, then I know it’s it’s a bit more difficult, because now it’s up to YOU to observe. But then, that also now accounts for the variance of everybody’s light levels! So if you have, you know, if you’re in a 27th floor condo facing south, you get sun for eight hours shining in – then your snake plant might reach completely dry in three days! But because I didn’t tell you: “water every three days”, But you’re thinking: “Oh, when it’s completely dry… it’s dry, right? Like it’s completely dry right now. Okay, time to water it”. That’s different from somebody who lives on a ground floor house – trees in front, north facing window. Snake plant over there? It could take two or three weeks before the soil is completely dry! And that’s completely fine, too, because again, the instruction is ‘water based on the soil dryness, not just because I said: “three weeks for you, three days for you”. You know what I mean? 

 

Angie  22:47  

Yeah, we get that all the time in the plant shop! Most of our plants here – based on the light that they get – based on the types of plants that we carry – are on a one week schedule for us. So people say, you know: “How often should I water?” And I say: “WE water it once a week. 

 

Darryl  23:03  

Mm hmm. 

 

Angie  23:04  

“You can try that – but you have to track the soil!” 

 

Darryl  23:08  

Right, right. Like you’ve established the schedule based on the observation…. but then the problem with saying it that way to people is that they might assume: “Oh, it’s because it’s ‘this plant’, therefore I will water it the same as you”. The analogy I give is -back to the gas tank – which is okay: ‘If I have a Honda Civic, and I tell you I put gas in it roughly once a week, that doesn’t mean that if you also have a Honda Civic that therefore you must put gas on once a week’. It’s not. It’s by usage, not by based on the type of car right?

 

Angie  23:42  

That’s I’m stealing that analogy there. 

 

Darryl  23:44  

Go ahead. Go ahead. Yes! Be my guest!

 

Angie  23:47  

So let’s hear about your book!

 

Darryl  23:50  

Mm hmm. Oh, I don’t know if people can see it. But… just because I have one here… 

 

Angie  23:57  

Wow. Oh, it’s beautiful! 

 

Darryl  23:59  

New Plant Parent…. And available in German as well! 

 

Angie  24:04  

No way. That’s amazing! 

 

Darryl  24:06  

Yeah. So this is the translation. Yeah…

 

Angie  24:12  

How long did it take you to write the book? And when did it come out? Where can people get it?

 

Darryl  24:16  

So I took about, like a year and a bit to write it. This was probably during 2017 to 2018. And the book came out in 2019….excuse me, of March. And – I’ve been really like, excited and thankful for all the people who’ve you know, shared with me that they’ve got it and found it helpful! So I’m just, you know, super happy to that it has been helpful! Yeah, it’s available anywhere. Anywhere books are sold – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indigo in Canada… Yeah! 

 

Angie  24:53  

Good for you. Congratulations. That’s incredible.., and incredible timing! I’m assuming with it coming out in 2019 I mean, no one could have anticipated the plant boom with the pandemic. But I’d imagine that, you know, people were home reading…and buying plants!

 

Darryl  25:10  

They were like spending more time at home and realizing: “hey, I want to get some plants in here”. And honestly, that’s actually how my journey began too. Like, I was just at home and at the time living with my mom, and she said: Hey, Darryl, we got some nice skylights here. You know, let’s get some plants in here”. And that’s how it all began.

 

Angie  25:26  

That was my next question is how did it all start for you? How what transpired after that… so you started getting plants in your home with your mom… what happened next?

 

Darryl  25:33  

Yeah, I think one conversation in particular was really important – which was that, you know, she added to me – like she said, you know, “get some plants”. But she said: “You… YOU need to figure out how to take care of them, because I’m bad with plants”. My mom claimed to be bad with plants! And I said: “but mom, you taught me how to do gardening outdoors with vegetables and perennials and annuals! Like, how come indoor plants seem to elude you?” Right? But she kept going back to the whole narrative of: Oh, you know, I have a black thumb, I kill everything”. Which I’m sure you you read a lot of it, right? Which I think honestly… is contributing to the problem. 

 

Darryl  26:11  

But anyway. So I said, Okay, I’ll buy some plants. And I’ll, you know, try and Google the advice. And that’s when I researched and realized: Oh, this advice is – you know – a little bit thin or a little bit vague at times, right? Like, bright indirect light? Well… people’s windows are not going to be the same size – people’s obstructions are never going to be the same. How can we classify things just by…like a very vague, high, medium and low? So then, that’s where light meter first – like I discovered to use that – and realize: “Okay, this is the way that I use a light meter, it’s that, I observe that the plant has been growing well for let’s say a year or something, then I measure its light to kind of assess its situation”. So when I say that a pothos will grow well, with over 200 Foot Candles most of the day, it means that I’ve seen my own posts do well with that kind of bare minimum level. Of course, in a nursery, they’re going like to the 1000s, right? 

 

Angie  27:14  

Right. 

 

Darryl  27:14  

But then, then! On the other hand, I’ll like, you know… some friends, I’ll go to their house, and they asked me: “Hey, what’s wrong with my pothos?” I’ll go and measure their light. And they tell me: “okay, it’s been here for five months, and it’s now looking really scraggly”. I go and measure the light. And I’m saying – it’s never getting any brighter than 50 foot candles here. So this is based on like observation, right? And I think it’s, it’s harder to make this kind of assessment if you haven’t measured it yourself, right? 

 

Angie  27:19  

Yeah. – So next question! What is your favorite plant?

 

Darryl  27:50  

I would say my favorite plant is this Monstera Thai Constellation right behind me. 

 

Angie  27:56  

So beautiful. Oh my gosh. It’s gorgeous. 

 

Darryl  28:00  

It’s like, it’s been with me since 2018. And when I bought it, it was a very small, like, four inch pot, just like you know, the three little heart shaped leaves? 

 

Angie  28:09  

Wow. 

 

Darryl  28:11  

And it grew to this! This many leaves like…

 

Angie  28:15  

Yeah, I’d love to see it – Oh, my gosh, it grew so fast! Wow. It’s gorgeous. Oh, my gosh…. I love it.

 

Darryl  28:26  

Thank you. Yeah. So, you know, I’m really into looking for what are good long term plants. And when I say long term plants – I’m kind of implying that, sometimes if a plant just kind of grows scraggly no matter what light situation I give it…..or I’ll give it the best that I have…. If it just doesn’t grow that nicely, then I’ll say: “Welp, you’re cut”. Or by cut I also mean – you know – it becomes a propagation experiment, right? You just chop it up – lots of nodes – thrown into a propagation box or something and see what happens. And I think when we have like, a more like experimental mindset? Then we’re not so – you know – beating ourselves up. It doesn’t look as nice anymore. Right? 

 

Angie  29:14  

Yeah. It’s that emotional attachment. 

 

Darryl  29:17  

Yeah, but but then, you know, I have plants like this, or like the staghorn up there that have grown and look very nice all these years! And so for those ones, I’m always like, remembering: “Oh, okay. Monstera both thai constellation and regular one, pothos, staghorn fern, certain Anthuriums – they just have good longevity. And yeah, I kind of remember those guys. Right?

 

Angie  29:43  

Yeah! So tell us about your online course…

 

Darryl  29:47  

Sure, Yeah! So the online course I would say is like – in a sense – bringing to life all the concepts that I brought up in the book, but then also expanding on them. Because, well, I guess if people have ever had the experience of, you know, writing like a big thesis or something – whatever you come up with at that time and submit it – you can’t change it after it’s there, right? So I can’t change what’s printed in the book. But the course was sort of like a pandemic project, where I decided I wanted to….um…there were a lot of things that I wanted to add into the different chapters that I never got to put in. And then there’s also some things where I couldn’t really illustrate in the book, as well as if I could just say it and show it in a video. Right? Right. So the course is really kind of that extension. And so there’s kind of like some… core modules, I guess you could call it – which is mostly those kind of core topics. And then what I like to do is….roughly on a monthly basis…  I have what are called ‘office hours’, which is like – people can join into a zoom call, and then we can talk about, you know, whatever pressing questions they might have. And then all of those conversations are recorded and put back into the course! Because generally, they’ll talk about some topic that’s related to one of the core things, right? So yeah, that’s, that’s how it was. And that started, kind of like… in the summer of 2020…ie, because it was pandemic project. I wasn’t able to, you know, travel like I used to. So I decided: “Well, if I’m going to be teaching from home, then I might as well try and make something, make something of it”, right?

 

Angie  31:28  

That’s amazing. So how do people sign up for the course?

 

Darryl  31:31  

Yeah, they can go to – Well, on my website, there’s a tab for ‘course’, and then they just click that, and then they can log in from there. And right now, I’m still running those ‘office hours’. So they can stay tuned for that either in their email or in the course itself – there’s a little, you know, module that says ‘office hour, next meeting at….’

 

Angie  31:51  

Awesome. I’m gonna have to check that out, too. That sounds I love the ‘office hour’ idea of just hopping on and chatting with people and answering some questions about our plants! And I’m sure that just builds your community even wider. Right? You probably meet such awesome people in the plant community. 

 

Darryl  32:07  

For sure! And I think it’s also good because then…sometimes when we’re reading, like, let’s say… an Instagram post… we can only compose, you know, X number of characters or something in the post. But then inevitably, there are going to be some times like –  like, follow up questions, right? Or, you know: “Oh, what about my particular situation? like, I have this in this window, or I water it this way or that way”, right? And so all these little nuances that we can’t really address that well in a single post – are addressed much better by a back and forth conversation, right.

 

Angie  32:47  

And each case is different to your point. So it’s hard to address one issue for everyone on Instagram… and rather just speak to them one on one about their specific problems. For sure. I’m gonna be checking that out! So much fun chatting with each day! We are bringing it down now…. So going over last week’s trivia question now… it was: ‘Which country has the most plant species?’ Do you know?

 

Darryl  33:14  

I don’t know…. but if I just wanted to make a educated guess… I would say uh… Brazil? because they got the rainforest? Is it…is it Brazil? 

 

Angie  33:27  

It is! Yeah! 

 

Darryl  33:28  

Oh, okay – Cool! 

 

Angie  33:32  

So for those of you that guessed Brazil correctly in our comments, keep an eye out on our social pages for your free prize! And this week’s riddle – if you have what you think is the right answer, comment below in the reviews or the comment section, and we will announce the correct answer next week! So this week’s riddle is: ‘I do not eat food. But I do enjoy a light meal every day. What am I?’….’I do not eat food… but I do enjoy a light meal every day. What am I?’ 

 

Angie  34:03  

Do you want to take a guess? I don’t have the answer in front of me until next week. So… if you want to take a stab at it?

 

Darryl  34:11  

well…. I mean, not because we’re talking about plants but…. a plant kind of fits that situation. 

 

Angie  34:22  

That’s what I was thinking too – like a “light” meal a… “light” meal. 

 

Darryl  34:25  

Yes, the light as in – actual light haha!

 

Angie  34:28  

Well, we’ll see if we’re correct next week. Tune into Wine Down The Week With Angie – it releases every Friday on Sol Tech Solutions YouTube channel and all of our social channels. So thank you to SolTech Solutions, Steel City Plant Company, Domaci Home and Lehigh Valley with Love, and a HUGE thank you to Darryl – we will catch up with you on Instagram – Thanks so much for being here! 

 

Darryl  34:48  

Thanks Angie. It was pleasure! 

 

Angie  34:50  

Bye, everyone! 

 

Darryl  34:52  

Bye!

 

k to the gas tank, which is: If I have a Honda Civic and I tell you I put gas in it roughly once a week, that doesn’t mean that – if you also have a Honda Civic that therefore you must put gas on once a week. it’s by usage – not based on the type of car right? 

 

Angie  0:25  

That’s… I’m stealing that analogy there. 

 

Darryl  0:26  

Go ahead. Go ahead. Yes.

 

Angie  0:38  

Hey, plant fam. Welcome to Wine Down The Week With Angie, I’m your host Angie, owner of Steel City Plant Company here in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This podcast is brought to you by SolTech Solutions. Today we chat with Darryl Chang. He’s the creator of the incredibly popular blog and Instagram account Houseplant Journal. Darryl’s passion for plants and engineering approach, have turned him into one of the most trusted resources of the internet houseplant world. What was initially a hobby Tumblr page has turned into an Instagram account with over half a million followers! A foundational houseplant care book entitled The New Plant Parent, a game changing online course, and plant time lapse videos that have gone viral around the world. Welcome, Darryl.

 

Darryl  1:21  

Hello, Angie, nice to meet you. Thank you so much for that intro. 

 

Angie  1:25  

Thank you so much for being here. We’re so excited to chat with you! You’re doing incredible things for the plant community, and we just can’t wait to hear all about it. 

 

Darryl  1:33  

Oh, thank you so much haha. 

 

Angie  1:34  

Your background is amazing. I mean, as expected, right? 

 

Darryl  1:38  

I almost feel like these days with us plant parents we’re like competing to see who can get more plants in their background –

 

Angie  1:43  

– in their background, right! I know I try to switch it up every week and focus on some different plants give them the spotlight a little bit. So we’re gonna kick it off with an icebreaker. It’s called Petal and Bud. So Petal is something that has happened recently that you’re excited about! And Bud is something that’s coming up that you’re excited about as well. So something already happened, and then something coming up. 

 

Angie  2:08  

So I’ll kick it off to give you an idea. So something that happened recently, that I’m excited about…Halloween! I just love this time of year. So Halloween was a really, really fun time – I did Salem (MA) with my mom. And then we did just a Halloween Marathon and we went out to a new cider place in town on Halloween night. So that was just a really fun time. My cousin got married on Halloween as well! So really cool, spooky wedding. Upcoming? Christmas! So I talked about this last week, but Christmas in Bethlehem has officially pretty much started – it’s going to kick off on November 19 with our tree lighting ceremony in town. So we’re here at the plant shop, getting all the Christmas inventory unpacked and getting our Christmas cacti ready to go… and just really excited. So, instead of just being in our shop like normal, we’re also going to have an old German-style Christmas Hut down on Main Street. So we’ll be down outside as well as having the shop so it will be kind of in two places at once. So really excited about that. 

 

Darryl  3:12  

Very nice. Very nice. Okay! so yes, so for me Petal…. That will be something that just happened?….Well, it was my birthday on the 30th of October. So uh,

 

Angie  3:23  

Happy Birthday! 

 

Darryl  3:24  

thank you. Thank you. Um, yeah, just, yeah, happy to be able to celebrate with some, well, mostly my brother and his three kids. So they – you know, they’re there, lots of fun! Yeah. And then, Bud?…in terms of bud….Oh! Well, I’m sure we’ll discuss this in the podcast, but um, I’m currently working on a light meter. And so that’s “budding!” Hopefully by sometime early next year, It should be out. So yeah, that’s something I’m really excited about, and happy to share that news with you guys as well! 

 

Angie  4:00  

That’s amazing. I cannot wait to dig deeper into that. I think it sounds like something everybody could use! 

 

Darryl  4:05  

Yeah, yeah yeah. 

 

Angie  4:06  

Oh, I feel like we’re getting the inside scoop today. So I can’t wait to hear about that. So… what are you drinking today?

 

Darryl  4:14  

Drinking….I’m very, very boring here. Just a cup of water with lemon is just so refreshing. And that’s honestly one of my favorite drinks. 

 

Angie  4:26  

Like everybody says we are a bunch of houseplants that need constant water and sunlight ourselves! So, a good reminder to drink your water at home. I am drinking Christmas City Spirits. So I can actually see their distillery right across the street from our shop. So they’re here in Downtown Bethlehem, a distillery here. So Christmas here at City Spirits focuses on historical distillations and old family recipes. So Martha’s Lemonade, that’s what I’m drinking. It’s made with “Cherry Bounce”, a delicious cherry cordial made with dark cherries, cloves and cinnamon – and it’s mixed with vodka that they make so… very delicious very fall-y!

 

Darryl  5:02  

Yeah sounds – Yeah sounds sounds that way!

 

Angie  5:04  

Cheers!

 

Darryl  5:06  

Cheers indeed.

 

Angie  5:10  

Alright, so we’re gonna play a little drinking game… It is modeled off of a memory game. So it’s going to be about – plant care tools. So I’m going to say: “I went to the plant shop and I bought…. ‘a tool’. You have to then repeat what I said: “She went to the shop and bought ‘a blank’ and I went to the shop and bought ‘something’, and then we have to keep building off of each other…. till the first person messes up. Then the game’s over! okay, I’ll start…. aaah!

 

Darryl  5:39  

I don’t have that short term memory!

 

Angie  5:42  

Okay, good. I should win then! I got this. I’ve been losing these games! So I need… I need a win. “I went to the plant shop and bought… shears.”

 

Darryl  5:53  

All right. So: “You went to the plant shop and bought shears, and I went to the plant shop and bought some ‘pots’. 

 

Angie  6:01  

Okay, I went to the plant shop and bought shears – you went to the plant shop and bought pots, I went to the plant shop and bought …mmm soil! Is that a tool?

 

Darryl  6:17  

Sure. So – She went… you went to the plant shop to get shears. I went to the plant shop to get some pots. Then you went to the plant shop to get some soil and I went to the plant shop and got some grow lights. 

 

Angie  6:31  

Ooh, good one. Okay, I went to the plant shop to buy shears. You went to the plant shop for pots. I went to the plant shop for soil. You wen to the plant shop for grow lights. I went to the plant shop for….Dammit, see? I said I’m bad at this – It always lose! Okay….I bought, a watering can!

 

Darryl  7:03  

Okay, so you went to the plant shop and buy some shears. I went to the plant shop and got some pots. You went to the plant shop to get some soil. I went to the plant shop to get some grow lights. You went to the plant shop…to get some…some…oh! to get a watering can, and I went to the plant shop to get the fertilizer. 

 

Angie  7:35  

Oh good – Okay! I went to the plant shop to get shears, you went to the plant shop to get pots. I went to the plant shop to get soil, you went to the plant shop to get grow lights. I went to the plant shop to get… a watering can, you went to the plant to get fertilizer? Did I miss anything? 

 

Darryl  7:59  

Nope.

 

Angie  7:59  

No. I went to the plant shop to get…a mister.

 

Darryl  8:08  

Okay, so you went to the plant shop to get shears, I went to the plant shop to get some pots. You went to the plant shop to get some soil. I went to the plant shop to get… some grow lights. You went to the plant shop to get a watering can, I went to the plant shop to get fertilizer, you went to the plant shop to get a mister, And….I went to the plant shop….to get a trowel.

 

Angie  8:47  

Sigh, I went to the plant shop to get…shears? You went to the plant shop to get pots. I went to the plant shop to get…..I don’t know if I…….hmmm…..wait, not shears? aaagh I lose!! I’ll drink! What was it?

 

Darryl  9:20  

I think that one was soil! 

 

Angie  9:23  

Grrr Darn it! All right. Well, I lose again. Your short term memory is not that bad!

 

Darryl  9:30  

It’s – I think it’s because we’re talking about plant stuff. I’m like, “Ooh, I like, Yeah.”

 

Angie  9:33  

You can absorb it! All right, well, let’s get into it. So first, let’s hear about this light meter. 

 

Darryl  9:42  

Oh, sure. Yes. So I think -if anybody has read my book or you know, reads some of my Instagram posts and such, people know that my favorite thing to do is measure light. I literally have like 10 different light meters spectrometers, power meters and regular light meters.

 

Darryl  10:03  

So I’m a little obsessed, but only because, like, I really feel like – having a good sense of how bright, or how strong your light is, is so critical to really setting your expectations on how well the plant should do. And in a sense, also being like, you know, having a more calibrated sense realistically compared to like, say – a nursery. I think everybody knows: “Okay, yeah, if your windows are bigger, you got more light. If you have a nursery like, you know, like this diffusion material overtop, that gets more light. But rarely do people actually have a sense of exactly how much is it? Like how much more? And when I first started with plant care – right away when I read – Oh, give it bright, indirect light, I asked myself: “what exactly does that mean?” right? And when they say ‘medium’, when they say ‘moderate,’ they will say ‘low’ like: “Okay, well give me some objective, quantifiable thing.” So then I brought it with me here! Just got myself this cheap-o light meter, and just went around and realize that: “Whoa, light levels are like really different at not only just, like, all times of the day, but even just what seems to be short, you know, distances from the window, it can drastically drop off. Same with, you know, distance from a grow light, it drastically drops off, right? And yet, our eyes fool us into thinking: “Oh, it all feels the same”, right? Because, you know, eyes – people adjust all the time. So basically, I’ve been using this funny looking light meter all these years. And like, you know, getting more and more [of them] – but I always felt like I should make my own that has…. you know….let’s be honest – looks a little sleeker than something like this.

 

Angie  11:51  

Yup!

 

Darryl  11:53  

And also that I’m working on having it include temperature and humidity sensing as well. So it’ll be three tools in one.

 

Darryl  12:03  

Yeah, so that’s, that’s what I’ve been working on. I’ve been working on it with like a designer and such since the beginning of 2021. And now, we’re getting to the stage of like, actually manufacturing and stuff. So that’s really exciting. It’s something like – I’ve always dreamed of… of making a tool of some kind. So this is something that I’m super excited about. And yeah, just excited to share with everybody! in…. later, probably 2022. 

 

Angie  12:27  

That’s amazing! Congratulations, first. Second, I mean… what’s your background in!? And so are you the scientific brain behind the actual engineering of it? 

 

Darryl  12:39  

Yeah, so my background is engineering…however, it wasn’t like, it wasn’t electrical engineering. So I can’t actually like design the circuit board or anything. I just more like managing the workflow. And I like I know how to -you know- source manufacturers and those kinds of things. So, I’ve been using that to kind of… you know, make this experience of building a light meter. Something that, you know – now, I think most of the time when people say they want to design a product, usually they tell you: “make sure that other people want to use it. It’s not just something for yourself, right?” But I’ll be honest, this is for myself, yeah. It was my always my dream to like not have to walk around awkwardly with THIS -to be able to measure light and make some kind of accurate assessment of this, you know, light situation. And then on top of that – light, temperature and humidity. And then that way, you know, my dream is that —  if every plant parent had a light meter… not even necessarily mine… but just a light meter… that we would all be able to communicate light levels in a more cohesive manner. So when somebody says to you: “Oh, I, like my snake plant’s not doing well. Oh, it’s in bright, indirect light! Okay”. I go home, and I put it in what I think is bright, indirect light. Now flip the situation and pretend we all had light meters. And I said: “Oh, most of the day for my snake plant, it’s 400 foot candles, then someone else would be like.. Oooh, I’m going home…. and where I currently put it.. It’s only 50! No wonder it’s doing so poorly”. It’s also that we can, again have that better expectation for how the plant is doing. And I think…when you measure the light level…. then what you’re really measuring is, (is sort of indirectly), like the rate of photosynthesis that’s currently going on in the plant. And, when we know what that means to a plant, which is…. it’s a little sugar factory powered by light! Then… if you put a plant where there’s only 50 foot candles or something, then what you’re saying is like it’s like a company who whose annual revenue is very small and they have to work very lean, right? Whereas, you put it where it’s 400 foot candles -Well, now you think of it. Oh, this is a thriving company. It’s like got great, great revenue, great margins. All this kind of, good stuff. And I don’t know… that’s just kind of how I connect with plants, is knowing how well they’re photosynthesizing. 

 

Angie  15:10  

Yeah! It just it, like you said, it quantifies the whole experience for people who are inexperienced. Like now they have tangible numbers – facts – to be able to work with – so that you’re not just kind of in the dark. Oh, literally! You can use that for free! 

 

Darryl  15:31  

So exactly what you mentioned… something you said I really liked was…. “tangible”, right? So, when we talk about watering, if I said to you: “buy water once a week”. That’s tangible, So you know that, for me, at least, it works to water X type of plant once a week. But the problem with how the plants work is that — for me, it’s once a week given my light situation. So if I just tell you: Bright, indirect light, and water once a week. If you then go and water your plant once a week, and you think that you’re giving it bright, indirect light, then it may not work so well. However, if I said to you: “oh, on average, it’s 400 foot candles, and I water once a week”. Then you have two things to look for: which is – is my plant in the range of 400 foot candles? Who knows? it could be 800 if you have a bigger window – it could be 200, if you put it farther away. So… it’s just giving people two things that are concrete. And it’s almost like having having two data points is usually better than just one, right? 

 

Angie  16:33  

Yeah, absolutely. What would you say that…. I know, you get asked so many questions on your Instagram account about plant care….. Would you say lighting is the number one concern that people have? 

 

Darryl  16:44  

Mm hmm. Boy, well, sorry… it’s not even…. It’s not even their concern. It’s… I’M concerned that they don’t even really care about it. Or not that they don’t care, but that they’re just – literally – so in the ‘dark’ about it. Right? Because, you know, when – again, I’m going to come back to this again – you tell them bright, indirect light – and the person’s like: “oh, okay, so I guess that means I can put it anywhere out of direct sun….okay, so that goes like, you know, off to the side of a window”. But then, again, objectively, if I went over to that corner and measured the light, and it was 50 foot candles, which by the way -50 Foot Candles is plenty bright to see! – But then you don’t even realize the plant is just sitting there starving, not producing, you know, from photosynthesis, right? 

 

Darryl  17:38  

But then it leads to this idea that people think: “oh, overwatering is the number one killer!” But really, it’s that – it’s not that you were watering it too much or too frequently – it’s that the whole plant system just wasn’t even wasn’t even working, right? Like the engine wasn’t even on, and you’re like: “Oh, I’m throwing gas on it, how come it’s not going?” You know, like, that’s the kind of…. once again, back to the engineering…. I look at it like a system. So – it’s not just like following a bunch of random directions – but rather: Step One is make sure it has enough light. Step Two is then water it accordingly, meaning – when the soil dryness is reaches whatever is appropriate for that plant – and then, you know, the all the extra stuff, fertilizing, repotting in time and all that kind of stuff – all follows from having adequate light first. 

 

Angie  18:30  

Yeah, it needs to be doing what it needs to be doing. Like you said!

 

Darryl  18:34  

it needs to be working….

 

Angie  18:35  

The whole system needs to be ON – for anything else to be able to work. ugh So interesting! I’m so excited for you, can’t wait to buy one of my own and put my light system into..like.. I want to go home to my apartment and figure it out.

 

Darryl  18:51  

Thanks.

 

Angie  18:52  

I want to know now, if they’re in the right places! So what’s your number one tip for beginner plant parents? Especially people that don’t understand this whole system? What’s an easy starting point? What would you tell them? 

 

Darryl  19:06  

Mm hmm. I would say, whatever plant you get, if it’s, you know – “typical houseplant” – I would say 90% of the time, you’re going to read the instruction and it’ll say bright, indirect light, okay? Which I interpret to mean, (and remember, I’m interpreting it based on having gone around and measured light everywhere), okay, you need to put the plant as close to your window as possible. That’s step one. Step two is then assess how long the sun actually shines directly on the plant. If that duration exceeds, I don’t know, two or three hours…. Of course, every plant has different kind of tolerances for that…. If that duration exceeds two or three hours, then you might want to block it with a white sheet or kind of thin curtain. Or, the thing is if you move it back, then the indirect light that comes from just the overall view of the sky. It, it will change. And again, a light meter will tell you exactly how much but that’s why…. like, that advice that I just gave is assuming that people just don’t want to think about the light meter and all that stuff…. they just want: “just tell me where to put it!” ans I’ll tell you right around the window. 

 

Angie  20:19  

Yeah. 

 

Darryl  20:20  

And then the second piece of advice about watering is that, you know, don’t approach watering as if every plant had some kind of intrinsically described schedule. Meaning like, oh, “Pothos – 7 days, snake plant – 10 days, monstera – 7 days”. Like… it’s not like that. Instead, approach it as – “You need to regularly check on the soil. And then when the soil reaches the appropriate level of dryness, then give it a nice thorough watering.” Now I just said, ‘appropriate’ level of dryness, and if you put a star there, there’s only three levels of dryness that you’re looking for. 

 

Darryl  21:00  

If it’s a Maidenhair Fern, or anything where the instruction says ‘keep evenly moist’, that means that you water it when the soil reaches almost like, 75% dry. If it gets halfway dry….you know, maidenhair fern, I’m sure you’ve maybe experienced it…. like the whole thing just turns to a crisp, right? 

 

Angie  21:17  

Yeah! 

 

Darryl  21:18  

So that’s one type of watering strategy. The next one is water when ‘partially dry’, so anywhere between 50 down to 25% of you know….. left in the gas tank of water…. let’s call it – then that’s the time when you water it. And, majority of tropical foliage is going to be that type of watering. And then the last type is water only when it’s ‘completely dry’. – Snake plants, ZZ plant, Cacti, Succulents – All of these are, you know, you don’t water it until the soil is bone dry. And, I think when people approach it that way, then I know it’s it’s a bit more difficult, because now it’s up to YOU to observe. But then, that also now accounts for the variance of everybody’s light levels! So if you have, you know, if you’re in a 27th floor condo facing south, you get sun for eight hours shining in – then your snake plant might reach completely dry in three days! But because I didn’t tell you: “water every three days”, But you’re thinking: “Oh, when it’s completely dry… it’s dry, right? Like it’s completely dry right now. Okay, time to water it”. That’s different from somebody who lives on a ground floor house – trees in front, north facing window. Snake plant over there? It could take two or three weeks before the soil is completely dry! And that’s completely fine, too, because again, the instruction is ‘water based on the soil dryness, not just because I said: “three weeks for you, three days for you”. You know what I mean? 

 

Angie  22:47  

Yeah, we get that all the time in the plant shop! Most of our plants here – based on the light that they get – based on the types of plants that we carry – are on a one week schedule for us. So people say, you know: “How often should I water?” And I say: “WE water it once a week. 

 

Darryl  23:03  

Mm hmm. 

 

Angie  23:04  

“You can try that – but you have to track the soil!” 

 

Darryl  23:08  

Right, right. Like you’ve established the schedule based on the observation…. but then the problem with saying it that way to people is that they might assume: “Oh, it’s because it’s ‘this plant’, therefore I will water it the same as you”. The analogy I give is -back to the gas tank – which is okay: ‘If I have a Honda Civic, and I tell you I put gas in it roughly once a week, that doesn’t mean that if you also have a Honda Civic that therefore you must put gas on once a week’. It’s not. It’s by usage, not by based on the type of car right?

 

Angie  23:42  

That’s I’m stealing that analogy there. 

 

Darryl  23:44  

Go ahead. Go ahead. Yes! Be my guest!

 

Angie  23:47  

So let’s hear about your book!

 

Darryl  23:50  

Mm hmm. Oh, I don’t know if people can see it. But… just because I have one here… 

 

Angie  23:57  

Wow. Oh, it’s beautiful! 

 

Darryl  23:59  

New Plant Parent…. And available in German as well! 

 

Angie  24:04  

No way. That’s amazing! 

 

Darryl  24:06  

Yeah. So this is the translation. Yeah…

 

Angie  24:12  

How long did it take you to write the book? And when did it come out? Where can people get it?

 

Darryl  24:16  

So I took about, like a year and a bit to write it. This was probably during 2017 to 2018. And the book came out in 2019….excuse me, of March. And – I’ve been really like, excited and thankful for all the people who’ve you know, shared with me that they’ve got it and found it helpful! So I’m just, you know, super happy to that it has been helpful! Yeah, it’s available anywhere. Anywhere books are sold – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indigo in Canada… Yeah! 

 

Angie  24:53  

Good for you. Congratulations. That’s incredible.., and incredible timing! I’m assuming with it coming out in 2019 I mean, no one could have anticipated the plant boom with the pandemic. But I’d imagine that, you know, people were home reading…and buying plants!

 

Darryl  25:10  

They were like spending more time at home and realizing: “hey, I want to get some plants in here”. And honestly, that’s actually how my journey began too. Like, I was just at home and at the time living with my mom, and she said: Hey, Darryl, we got some nice skylights here. You know, let’s get some plants in here”. And that’s how it all began.

 

Angie  25:26  

That was my next question is how did it all start for you? How what transpired after that… so you started getting plants in your home with your mom… what happened next?

 

Darryl  25:33  

Yeah, I think one conversation in particular was really important – which was that, you know, she added to me – like she said, you know, “get some plants”. But she said: “You… YOU need to figure out how to take care of them, because I’m bad with plants”. My mom claimed to be bad with plants! And I said: “but mom, you taught me how to do gardening outdoors with vegetables and perennials and annuals! Like, how come indoor plants seem to elude you?” Right? But she kept going back to the whole narrative of: Oh, you know, I have a black thumb, I kill everything”. Which I’m sure you you read a lot of it, right? Which I think honestly… is contributing to the problem. 

 

Darryl  26:11  

But anyway. So I said, Okay, I’ll buy some plants. And I’ll, you know, try and Google the advice. And that’s when I researched and realized: Oh, this advice is – you know – a little bit thin or a little bit vague at times, right? Like, bright indirect light? Well… people’s windows are not going to be the same size – people’s obstructions are never going to be the same. How can we classify things just by…like a very vague, high, medium and low? So then, that’s where light meter first – like I discovered to use that – and realize: “Okay, this is the way that I use a light meter, it’s that, I observe that the plant has been growing well for let’s say a year or something, then I measure its light to kind of assess its situation”. So when I say that a pothos will grow well, with over 200 Foot Candles most of the day, it means that I’ve seen my own posts do well with that kind of bare minimum level. Of course, in a nursery, they’re going like to the 1000s, right? 

 

Angie  27:14  

Right. 

 

Darryl  27:14  

But then, then! On the other hand, I’ll like, you know… some friends, I’ll go to their house, and they asked me: “Hey, what’s wrong with my pothos?” I’ll go and measure their light. And they tell me: “okay, it’s been here for five months, and it’s now looking really scraggly”. I go and measure the light. And I’m saying – it’s never getting any brighter than 50 foot candles here. So this is based on like observation, right? And I think it’s, it’s harder to make this kind of assessment if you haven’t measured it yourself, right? 

 

Angie  27:19  

Yeah. – So next question! What is your favorite plant?

 

Darryl  27:50  

I would say my favorite plant is this Monstera Thai Constellation right behind me. 

 

Angie  27:56  

So beautiful. Oh my gosh. It’s gorgeous. 

 

Darryl  28:00  

It’s like, it’s been with me since 2018. And when I bought it, it was a very small, like, four inch pot, just like you know, the three little heart shaped leaves? 

 

Angie  28:09  

Wow. 

 

Darryl  28:11  

And it grew to this! This many leaves like…

 

Angie  28:15  

Yeah, I’d love to see it – Oh, my gosh, it grew so fast! Wow. It’s gorgeous. Oh, my gosh…. I love it.

 

Darryl  28:26  

Thank you. Yeah. So, you know, I’m really into looking for what are good long term plants. And when I say long term plants – I’m kind of implying that, sometimes if a plant just kind of grows scraggly no matter what light situation I give it…..or I’ll give it the best that I have…. If it just doesn’t grow that nicely, then I’ll say: “Welp, you’re cut”. Or by cut I also mean – you know – it becomes a propagation experiment, right? You just chop it up – lots of nodes – thrown into a propagation box or something and see what happens. And I think when we have like, a more like experimental mindset? Then we’re not so – you know – beating ourselves up. It doesn’t look as nice anymore. Right? 

 

Angie  29:14  

Yeah. It’s that emotional attachment. 

 

Darryl  29:17  

Yeah, but but then, you know, I have plants like this, or like the staghorn up there that have grown and look very nice all these years! And so for those ones, I’m always like, remembering: “Oh, okay. Monstera both thai constellation and regular one, pothos, staghorn fern, certain Anthuriums – they just have good longevity. And yeah, I kind of remember those guys. Right?

 

Angie  29:43  

Yeah! So tell us about your online course…

 

Darryl  29:47  

Sure, Yeah! So the online course I would say is like – in a sense – bringing to life all the concepts that I brought up in the book, but then also expanding on them. Because, well, I guess if people have ever had the experience of, you know, writing like a big thesis or something – whatever you come up with at that time and submit it – you can’t change it after it’s there, right? So I can’t change what’s printed in the book. But the course was sort of like a pandemic project, where I decided I wanted to….um…there were a lot of things that I wanted to add into the different chapters that I never got to put in. And then there’s also some things where I couldn’t really illustrate in the book, as well as if I could just say it and show it in a video. Right? Right. So the course is really kind of that extension. And so there’s kind of like some… core modules, I guess you could call it – which is mostly those kind of core topics. And then what I like to do is….roughly on a monthly basis…  I have what are called ‘office hours’, which is like – people can join into a zoom call, and then we can talk about, you know, whatever pressing questions they might have. And then all of those conversations are recorded and put back into the course! Because generally, they’ll talk about some topic that’s related to one of the core things, right? So yeah, that’s, that’s how it was. And that started, kind of like… in the summer of 2020…ie, because it was pandemic project. I wasn’t able to, you know, travel like I used to. So I decided: “Well, if I’m going to be teaching from home, then I might as well try and make something, make something of it”, right?

 

Angie  31:28  

That’s amazing. So how do people sign up for the course?

 

Darryl  31:31  

Yeah, they can go to – Well, on my website, there’s a tab for ‘course’, and then they just click that, and then they can log in from there. And right now, I’m still running those ‘office hours’. So they can stay tuned for that either in their email or in the course itself – there’s a little, you know, module that says ‘office hour, next meeting at….’

 

Angie  31:51  

Awesome. I’m gonna have to check that out, too. That sounds I love the ‘office hour’ idea of just hopping on and chatting with people and answering some questions about our plants! And I’m sure that just builds your community even wider. Right? You probably meet such awesome people in the plant community. 

 

Darryl  32:07  

For sure! And I think it’s also good because then…sometimes when we’re reading, like, let’s say… an Instagram post… we can only compose, you know, X number of characters or something in the post. But then inevitably, there are going to be some times like –  like, follow up questions, right? Or, you know: “Oh, what about my particular situation? like, I have this in this window, or I water it this way or that way”, right? And so all these little nuances that we can’t really address that well in a single post – are addressed much better by a back and forth conversation, right.

 

Angie  32:47  

And each case is different to your point. So it’s hard to address one issue for everyone on Instagram… and rather just speak to them one on one about their specific problems. For sure. I’m gonna be checking that out! So much fun chatting with each day! We are bringing it down now…. So going over last week’s trivia question now… it was: ‘Which country has the most plant species?’ Do you know?

 

Darryl  33:14  

I don’t know…. but if I just wanted to make a educated guess… I would say uh… Brazil? because they got the rainforest? Is it…is it Brazil? 

 

Angie  33:27  

It is! Yeah! 

 

Darryl  33:28  

Oh, okay – Cool! 

 

Angie  33:32  

So for those of you that guessed Brazil correctly in our comments, keep an eye out on our social pages for your free prize! And this week’s riddle – if you have what you think is the right answer, comment below in the reviews or the comment section, and we will announce the correct answer next week! So this week’s riddle is: ‘I do not eat food. But I do enjoy a light meal every day. What am I?’….’I do not eat food… but I do enjoy a light meal every day. What am I?’ 

 

Angie  34:03  

Do you want to take a guess? I don’t have the answer in front of me until next week. So… if you want to take a stab at it?

 

Darryl  34:11  

well…. I mean, not because we’re talking about plants but…. a plant kind of fits that situation. 

 

Angie  34:22  

That’s what I was thinking too – like a “light” meal a… “light” meal. 

 

Darryl  34:25  

Yes, the light as in – actual light haha!

 

Angie  34:28  

Well, we’ll see if we’re correct next week. Tune into Wine Down The Week With Angie – it releases every Friday on Sol Tech Solutions YouTube channel and all of our social channels. So thank you to SolTech Solutions, Steel City Plant Company, Domaci Home and Lehigh Valley with Love, and a HUGE thank you to Darryl – we will catch up with you on Instagram – Thanks so much for being here! 

 

Darryl  34:48  

Thanks Angie. It was pleasure! 

 

Angie  34:50  

Bye, everyone! 

 

Darryl  34:52  

Bye!

 

 

Partners

  • Soltech Solutions

    Soltech Solutions

  • Steel City Plant Co

    Steel City Plant Co.

  • Lehigh Valley With Love

    Lehigh Valley with Love

  • Domaci Plants and Vintage

    Domaci Plants + Vintage

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

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A
12/01/2021
Anonymous
CA CA
I recommend this product

Outdoors, we're approaching the darkest days of winter, but my indoor plants are thriving under their Aspect lamp. I've even been able to add to my collection now that I'm no longer confined to the limited selection that would tolerate my home's paltry supply of natural light. Great product!

VH
12/01/2021
valerie H.
US US
I recommend this product

Large Aspect grow light

I purchased the large white pendant grow light during an awesome black Friday deal. I've had my eye on this particular light for awhile, but patiently waited until they were on sale. I purchased one with ease and it was shipped immediately. Because I live close to where these are made, my package arrived pretty quickly. Everything in the box was well organized and the instructions on how to install it were super clear. I will say that my plants are now super happy and are thriving because of the light they are getting. The lighting itself is not too harsh and so I can sit and work on my couch while the light is on during the day. The pendant is simple and yet chic and isn't a distraction from the decor in my house. Thank you all so much for this lovely product and for saving my plants from the darkness of Buffalo, NY :)

A
11/30/2021
Anonymous
CA CA
I recommend this product

Would highly recommend

The design is elegant and my plants are growing well. Shipping and customer service was great.

EJ
11/29/2021
Eileen J.
US US
I recommend this product

Highland system

The product arrived fast. I puchased the system specifically for 3 large citrus trees I purchased this year and moved inside for the winter. They seem to love it. The trees did not drop leaves and are currently flowering. I will be ordering more lights for other areas in my home. I would love some floor lamp models.

Soltech Solutions  Review

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