If you have always wanted to try planting at home but don’t think you have the space or experience to do so, let this makeup artist’s plant parenthood journey serve as inspo. Janina Dizon, 32, who glams up the likes of Maureen Wroblewitz, Katarina Rodriguez, and Andrea Torres, started planting in her condo unit’s small balcony last year.
From one chili plant, her collection has grown to include rosemary, tarragon, stevia, mint, basil, parsley, sage, bell pepper, tomato, calamansi, and pechay. She’s the first to admit that she’s no pro—in fact, this is the first time she tried gardening. For tips and tricks, she relies on the internet and fellow plant parents who comment on her Instagram posts.
A self-described “wannabe chef,” Janina uses her fresh harvest in her cooking—think rosemary for focaccia, bell pepper for omelets, and basil for pizza. This garden-to-table facet is one of the major perks of being a plant mom for Janina. Her experience proves that it’s absolutely doable even if you live in a small space and have no experience in gardening. Here are a few tips on how you can do it, too.
1. TBH, some plants may die on you, but it doesn’t make you a bad person.
It’s a trial and error process especially when you’re just starting out. Janina’s first was a chili plant bought from the grocery. “Since I always buy chili, I thought I might as well just grow it! Sadly, it died from pest infestation. I tried to save it using DIY sprays, which may have been too strong for it. But it was already weak to begin with and probably packed with chemicals just for it to survive in the grocery. It made me sad, but it also kicked off my plant obsession. It challenged me to learn how to take care of my plant babies.”
2. Work with what you have.
Janina’s condo balcony is small and faces west, which means she has to get creative with the afternoon sun’s effect on her plants. “I arrange the plants based on which ones can tolerate more heat and which ones need less sun. So some plants shade others.”
She advises, “It’s a good idea to start with indoor plants that are low maintenance or can’t handle direct sunlight. Pick plants that are ideal with your location: Do you have a balcony or window space that gets enough sun? Go for those that fit your lifestyle: Are you home every day and can you commit to daily watering? If you have furry babies, get pet-friendly plants or make sure the plants are well out of their reach.”
3. Grow your knowledge.
Each plant has specific needs, so do your research online and reach out to fellow plant parents. “It’s easier now because of social media—I have plant parent friends that I haven’t even met in person. They comment on my posts, and we share tips based on our experiences.”
4. Think outside the (plant) box.
As much as possible, get plants outside groceries and commercial spaces. “The level of love and care towards the plant is just different,” says Janina. She gets her potted babies in White Plains and Baguio.
“Plants are so healthy and less expensive in Baguio! As an alternative, I suggest growing your own plants from seeds. For basic tools, you can check out the usual hardware stores.”
5. Plant what you like to eat.
Being excited to eat your harvest makes you more likely to take better care of your plants. “I was so happy when I harvested bell pepper and rosemary because those are the least common ones compared to other city house plants! I use my rosemary to bake focaccia and mix G&T. I add my bell pepper to fried rice and omelet. I use my basil for homemade pizza and pasta. I use my stevia and tarragon to brew a nice cup of tea. I use my parsley to garnish and make dishes look fancy! I’ve always been interested in the idea of having basic ingredients to readily use in the kitchen, and I’m glad I finally made it happen.”
Worried that you might end up liking your harvest too much? It’s actually healthy to prune them regularly and use them. “Most herbs thrive more when you keep them in check. And if you don’t use them, some actually lose the intensity of their flavor in time.”
6. Planting is a great avenue for self-care and self-improvement.
Yes, you’ll have to invest time, effort, and money if you want your garden to thrive, but the returns are so much more than just putting food on the table. “I can say that gardening is very therapeutic. Taking care of something and seeing it grow is an amazing feeling. It’s so fulfilling when you see new baby leaves and flower buds. It’s a sign that you have been doing well in taking care of them.”
Planting is also a good match with the other aspects of your life. As a professional makeup artist, Janina says that her patience and drive to learn new techniques have been a big help in growing her garden. “You also need to love what you’re doing for it to be successful,” she says.
7. Prune your plant plans.
Once you get the hang of it, you might not be able to stop yourself with just a few potted babies. Aside from Janina’s edible plants, she has red roses, pink roses, and yellow hibiscus on her balcony. Inside her condo unit, she has Phalaenopsis orchids, peace lily, snake plant, and ZZ plant.
It may be tempting to let your green thumb go wild, but for the plants’ sakes—and yours—you’ll have to strategize. “There are so many other plants that I want to take care of, but I have to plan everything out. Otherwise, my place might end up looking like a jungle!”