The bloggers behind the global plant community
Words by Suzanna Knight
Plant-filled photos are everywhere these days, from Instagram feeds to Pinterest boards and magazine spreads. It’s a phenomenon that was only just emerging when Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff founded Urban Jungle Bloggers back in 2013. What started as a fun-side project quickly became the perfect platform for the houseplant movement to grow and flourish. With 200k+ followers on Instagram, a successful publication and a vast, global network of engaged and enthusiastic plant lovers eager to share their homes and expertise, Urban Jungle Bloggers has become the online home of the plant community. We had a chat with the two plant pioneers about their green community.
Take us back to 2013. What motivated you to start Urban Jungle Bloggers?
We are both plant enthusiasts and love living with plants, so we decided to create a blog as a fun way to share this personal passion. That’s all there was to it back then. But the very first blog post received such a huge amount of feedback, comments and reactions that we quickly realised this was much bigger than just the two of us. Clearly, we had started something that resonated with people. Back in 2013, houseplants were slowly finding their way back into living rooms around the world. And people were excited and ready to welcome them back. Other bloggers wanted to join the project, eager to participate and learn from each other. Thanks to them, and a lot of passion, patience, effort and hard work, our community grew into the amazing network of plant lovers that it is today.
How does Urban Jungle Bloggers function?
We have 1600 bloggers all over the world who are part of the community, and an average of 125 bloggers participate in the monthly blog topics that we share in our newsletter. Everyone is welcome, and if your blogpost follows a few very simple guidelines, we will share it on our blog and social media channels. We believe in inclusivity and diversity- plants and people are different all over the world, and everyone who lives with plants has a story to tell, no matter who you are!
Do you see a difference in the type of posts or plants loved per country?
The choice of how people live with plants is a personal one, more based on taste and personality rather than location. Of course, the availability of houseplants is different in most countries and varies according to the local climate. But it’s funny to see how people from drastically different backgrounds still fall in love with the same kind of plants at the same time. Currently, the Monstera Obliqua seems to be popping up everywhere, with its beautiful leaves and strange holes. Such an eye-catcher.
What do you think has changed in the world or the way we live our lives that has caused people to want to reconnect with plants?
We live fast, busy lives, desire (and get!) instant gratification for the things we do online, we can talk with people all over the world at all times- but to keep a healthy balance, we have to slow down from time to time. Taking care of a houseplant slows you down, keeps you grounded. We learn to be patient again, because plants don’t grow a new flower in seconds, growth is not achieved instantly like our social media updates. With plants, growth is a fruit of ongoing care and love. At the same time, an increasing number of people live in urban environments where a certain disconnect with nature is inevitable. The easiest way to reestablish this connection is to create your own little urban jungle, a green refuge from the concrete city and our buzzing smartphones. Plus, we’ve become more aware of the necessity of a healthy lifestyle in general, and plants are a natural addition to this lifestyle.
We learn to be patient again; growth is not achieved instantly like our social media updates.
What do you think we can do to make sure embracing houseplants is a permanent state of mind rather than a passing trend?
We need to value and emphasise precisely these added benefits, the many positive effects they have on our lives. What sets plants apart from any other interior design must-have is how they influence our wellbeing and have the ability to create healthier indoor environments. A plant is not just an accessory, it’s a thriving roommate!
How does your community help people understand this nature of plants?
By sharing the urban jungles of our community on our blog and social media channels, we show the diversity of plants from all over the world. We try to focus on the kind of homes where plants really thrive, where they have become something beyond a decorative item and have transformed into a natural part of the interior. Over the years, we have seen our community evolve from a styling platform to a real plant platform- people use it as a virtual plant knowledge centre. They exchange know-how, ask plant-related questions, send pictures asking us to identify the plant. In the future, we want to create more helpful video content- anything from repotting cacti to more advanced plant know-how.
What advice do you have for someone just starting to fill their home with plants?
Plants are like friends- take your time to get to know them! If you acquire a large amount of plants at the same time, you may feel overwhelmed by the thought of having to take care of all of them right away, especially if you’ve never done it before. Let your plant gang grow naturally!
Also, choose the right plants for your lifestyle. If you’re busy, or travel a lot, or simply don’t have much time, pick plants that can survive a few days or weeks without water or care. Invest in some watering tools, or go for a regular old shoelace! Stick one end in the soil of the plant pot and the other end in a cup of water. Your plant will soak up the water he needs all by himself.