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Houseplant mania

Local collectors are amassing cacti, sansevieria, pothos, and hoyas by the hundreds

Marble Queen and Jade pothos drape a wall of this Allentown home.


Buffalo is on trend when it comes to the houseplant craze. Johanna Dominguez and James Wisniewski, the two plant collectors featured in our article "Winter Survival Guide for Houseplants", own more than 450 plants between them. We were curious—why accumulate so many? Where do you keep them? And how do you keep hundreds of plants alive and happy? Here’s what we found out:


How they got started:

Wisniewski (300+ plants), who owns a body art business, The Parlour: I started collecting hoyas when I lived in Los Angeles and walked into a tropical plant nursery. After moving to Buffalo and opening my business, The Parlour, I started back up with hoyas and also got heavily involved with nepenthes (tropical pitcher plants), which are now my favorites.


Dominguez (160+ plants), a photographer and social media consultant: I always wanted and loved houseplants, so once I had my own place and dug in some roots, I made up for lost time. If I had to pick a favorite, it’d be my monstera standleyana or mature silver sword philodendron.


How have you made your living spaces more plant-friendly?

Wisniewski: My loft in downtown Buffalo has polished cement floors (don’t have to worry about water dripping) and fourteen foot ceilings with huge skylights throughout. I feel like this space was made for a huge indoor collection. I keep all of my carnivorous plants in a six-by-eight-foot greenhouse. It is fully automated with temperature, humidity/misting system, and light controls, which keeps the care minimal. The rest of the living space has full light automation and humidifiers which maintain approximately fifty percent relative humidity at all times.

Dominguez: I built a straw bale addition with a green roof; it breathes better than your standard house. In this room, I have installed twelve grow lights and a small greenhouse. I run everything wirelessly and am able to control temperature and lighting while I travel.


What about maintenance?

Wisniewski: I water my plants two times a week with a large industrial sprayer which I fill with reverse osmosis water from a system I have plumbed into my kitchen sink. I spend fifteen to twenty minutes watering each time and then routine grooming throughout the week.

Dominguez: I am careful not to choose any plants that require a ton of maintenance or watering. Most of mine are hoyas or similar plants that are epiphytic or have succulent-type leaves. I’d say cumulatively I spend about one to two hours per week on them, if that, depending on the season. This is mainly watering.


Both Dominguez and Wisniewski have had their collections for only a year or two. We’ll be checking back.


Read more about Johanna Dominguez and James Wisniewski, here.


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