Interview with co-author of Plantopedia, Lauren Camilleri about plants, work-life balance and more.
With the launch of her third book Plantopedia, caring for houseplants has never been easier. We chat with co-author Lauren Camilleri about plants, work-life balance, running her online plant shop Leaf Supply, and much more.
Lauren, you seem to have so many talents under your belt including a degree in interior architecture but what was it that inspired you to co-create Leaf Supply, and was this venture inspired by your previous work?
The biggest inspiration for starting Leaf Supply was really the joy I was getting from growing an indoor jungle of my own. After some failed experiences with succulents, I bought a small Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) and fell in love with foliage! I experienced first hand the incredible way plants can transform spaces and the way we experience them.
I’d been working as a magazine art director for a number of years and was looking for a new challenge. I’ve always loved design and interiors and a business that also incorporated my passion for plants felt like the perfect project. An introduction from a mutual friend to Sophia led to us realizing we had a similar idea for an online plant shop that would help make the process of buying and sending potted plants easy, accessible + fun.
From our first meeting, the beginnings of Leaf Supply were born and we launched the site just under a year later.
You are a self-proclaimed plant lover so we have to ask, what is your favorite indoor plant and why?
This is a hard one, there are just so many that I absolutely love! I’ve always been drawn to lush, leafy plants, some of my current faves include:
Homalomena rubescens ‘Maggie’ / Queen of hearts - it's those lush jungle vibes and easy-care M.O that get me. It’s a tropical aroid, elevated by deep red stems from which its gorgeous glossy foliage extends. I can’t get enough of its large heart-shaped leaves that are beautifully textured with deep ridges.
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma / Mini monstera - I’ve been a long time fan of the Monstera deliciosa but the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma with those delightfully petite, graphic leaves is becoming a firm fave of mine. They live very happily indoors; providing all the graphic good looks and easygoing nature of its common moniker, the monstera, but on a smaller scale.
You have now published not one but two books with the third book ‘Plantopedia’ on its way. How did you juggle running a business as well as publishing books and your other activities? Was it easy to find balance and do you have any tips that could help others in a similar position?
As small business owners and mothers of young children achieving balance is a constant struggle. Both Sophia and I are lucky enough to have supportive families close by as well as a small but amazing team at Leaf Supply that can help keep things ticking over while we focus on the books. In some ways, you have to give in to the fact that at certain times you don’t have balance and that’s ok. You just have to make sure you don’t get to the point of burn out by taking the breaks when you can and accepting help from others when you need it.
Plantopedia is coming soon and it will be the ultimate guide to indoor plant care. It will feature 130 plant profiles but how did you decide on which plants to include?
The plants featured in the book are a mix of foliage plants and cacti + succulents. We wanted to feature a good range of different plants that all live happy lives indoors in a variety of different lighting conditions. From easy-care classics to more unusual and advanced plants, there’s something for indoor gardeners of all levels.
We spent a lot of time hunting down the amazing specimens featured in the book and access to certain plants was another factor in determining the ones we profiled. Thanks to some of our incredible growers, plant friends, and the amazing Royal botanic gardens in Sydney we tracked down a varied and beautiful selection of greenery.
To us a bedroom is a sacred space where you can unwind after a busy day, what plant would you recommend inviting into this very personal space?
Bedrooms are the perfect place to introduce plants not only for their calming vibes but their ability to detoxify the air in our homes, they can literally allow us to breathe more easily.
The types of plants you bring into any space will be dependent on the light conditions available.
Most leafy foliage plants require plenty of bright, indirect light to thrive but there are also options for lower light spaces.
Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) and snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata) are well known for their air purifying properties and will tolerate lower light levels. For brighter bedrooms, rubber plants (Ficus elastica), especially more mature specimens can make a beautiful statement in a large egg-shaped planter.
One of my fave bedrooms featured in our book Indoor Jungle, belongs to Melbourne horticulturalist Thomas Denning. A floating shelf above his bed is covered with a selection of trailing and more upright plants that create a stunning lush feature. From hoyas and rhipsalis to stunning Philodendrons, the display makes for a beautifully layered bed head!
Do you have any rituals you follow before you sleep or perhaps when you wake up?
A cup of tea and a warm shower is my general pre-bed routine. I’m on my phone A LOT so have been trying to give myself some screen-free time before bed lately and I do think it makes for a better night's sleep. With a 16-month-old, wake-ups are generally dictated by her but once she’s up and fed I’ve been trying to get some exercise in. It makes such a difference to my mindset and energy levels. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve been consistent with exercise and I’m determined to keep it up!
Plantopedia is currently available in Australia only but will become available worldwide from October 27th on Amazon. You can head there and pre-order your copy today.
For more house plant inspiration don't forget to follow @Leaf_Supply on Instagram for your daily dose of foliage ideas.