Christopher Griffin, the self-proclaimed ‘Plant Kween’, is giving us the secrets to begin building a thriving indoor garden, keeping your houseplants healthy, and learning to pour the same attention and love into yourself. The author of You Grow Girl! Plant Kween's Lush Guide to Growing Your Garden, who is a proud parent to over two hundred plants nestled in their Brooklyn residence, fuses mindfulness with their passion for gardening. They credit their botanical adventure as a “calming means of meditation", a source of daily joy, and a grounding connection to nature even in the midst of a busy city. 

Through their magnetic presence, authenticity and dazzling images, Griffin hopes to bring representation and a modern, welcoming approach to gardening culture. “I realized how difficult it initially was to find folks that looked like me in green spaces, in the world of horticulture and that is an issue. Black people have a long legacy of beautiful, nurturing and healing relationships with the nature around us and light needs to be shined on that magic.” Griffin explains, “Putting that love, care and attention into my plants has honestly provided me with practice to be able to put that same amount of love, care and attention into my own Black queer non-binary being.”

Image: courtesy of Phoebe Cheong

Griffin also wants to focus on how impactful the leisurely, relaxing nature of the hobby can be. “It's about flipping the script and showing Black people resting and just living the life that makes them happy, curating spaces and homes for their own comfort, tending to the lushness that is their garden, and thriving despite the systemic oppression and barriers we face everyday because we are just that damn magical. Our happiness, our laughter, our rest, our rejuvenation, our peace is radical, is resistance, is revolutionary.”

Ready to grow or expand your own indoor jungle? Keep reading for Plant Kween’s top tips to get started and keeping your green gurls thriving and shop You Grow Girl! Plant Kween's Lush Guide to Growing Your Garden here.

EBONY: Can you break down your top 3 tips for getting started?

Christopher Griffin: 1) Do an environmental assessment of the space you intend to green up. What is the average temperature and humidity level in the space? What direction are your windows facing and how much sunlight comes into your space. These thangs change seasonally, so flow with your space and assess through the year.

2) When you arrive to the lushness that is your local plant shop and that green gurl catches your eye, do research to ensure you can provide her with the optimal environment to thrive. Google it, or ask one of the fab plant folks that werk at the shops, and match what your space can provide to the needs of that particular kween.

3) In preparation for repotting your new kween, make sure to get a new pot that’s at least 2 inches larger than her nursery pot ... she’s going to need room to grow, hunny!

4) Your green gurl may go through a period of stress as she gets used to her new home ... be patient with her and keep an occasional eye on her to see how she responds to her new home for the two weeks or so.

Image: courtesy of subject

What are 3 “easy” plants to get started with?

The Snake Plant (aka Dracaena trifasciata) is one of my favorite plants and also happens to be a fantastic plant for new plant parents! This kween is extremely resilient + adaptable + easy to care for, thrives in bright indirect light, but can survive in low light conditions as well. You do now have to water this plant often ... every two weeks in the warmer months and every 3-4 weeks during the colder months. Snake plants also absorb excessive amounts of carbon monoxide, emit oxygen, and filter other toxins released into the air from common household products.

The Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is another one of my favorites and was actually the very first plant I welcomed into my home when I started my plant parent journey. These kweens enjoy bright indirect light, but can survive in low light conditions as well. Watering this plant is pretty easy as well, once a week during warmer months and every two weeks during colder months. The thing I enjoy most about this kween is how quickly she grows, if provided with the right amount of care and attention. During summer months, my pothos plant was growing a new leaf weekly! Watching growth in any way, shape or form is just a beautiful thing to watch.

The Monstera Deliciosa (aka Swiss Cheese Plant) would have to be on this list as well. I think it is always important for plant parents to allow themselves space to grow in their plant parent skills, and I think caring for a Monstera Deliciosa is one way to do that. This kween is not as easy to care for as the pothos or snake plant, but is still fairly easy compared to other plants. These kweens need brighter indirect light and if you don't have that sun exposure, I would invest and experiment with grow lights. These plants also enjoy high humidity and a spritz of water on their aerial roots. These plants also enjoy well-drained soil, and once a week during warmer months and every two weeks during colder months.

Image: courtesy of Phoebe Cheong

How has gardening impacted your overall mental well-being?

Lately I’ve been exploring what it means to engage in mindful gardening: utilizing the tending of my own lil indoor jungle of green gurls as a means of meditation, grounding myself and being fully present in the moment and it’s been a lovely botanical exploration. These mindful moments have allowed me to dig a lil deeper into a level of self-awareness allowing me to explore where my own mind, bawdy and soul is in that present moment, helping me reach the realization that as a nurturer it is all too easy to displace the love, care and attention I know I need on to other beings, whether it be the folks I love and cherish in my life or the green gurls I appreciate and adoreThrough caring for my green gurls, I have learned how to better care for myself. I am better at giving myself grace, patience and forgiveness, understanding that the healing and growth of my own heart, mind, body and soul takes time, love, energy, intentionality.