Founded by plant lovers Lauren Camilleri and Sophia Kaplan, Leaf Supply is an indoor plant + pot delivery service based in Sydney. Along with their online store, the pair have written two books Leaf Supply & Indoor Jungle. Inspired by their love of botanicals we asked the girls to share what is on the sill this month and how best to care for indoor plants.
Hi Lauren & Sophia! Together you founded Leaf Supply and published two books, can you share the story behind your friendship and starting a business together?
Back in early 2016, a mutual friend suggested we meet. At the time Soph was building her namesake floristry business, and I was working as a magazine art director as well as on Domus Botanica, an online indoor plant store I created. We had a blind friendship date in a Redfern cafe where we discovered a shared love of plants as well as our eerily similar idea for a simple and beautifully curated plant delivery business. We both wanted people to fall in love with plants as we had and to create a community to educate, inspire, and build confidence in indoor gardening. From that first meeting, we immediately started working on what would become Leaf Supply which we launched nearly a year later.
Each month your team hand-selects three lush indoor plants ideal for gifting or adding to an indoor jungle. For those looking to grow their collection, how does it work?
We want to make the process of buying potted plants as simple and as beautiful as possible. Usually, we have a fresh selection of three different plants every month filling our three different pot options. Our Just ‘Cos comes in a gardeners pot wrapped in calico - perfect to gift or plant up in your favourite pot, our Good to Go comes in a simple ceramic planter with saucer in whichever colour we think best suits the plant that particular month and our Luxe Leaf pot is handmade exclusively for us by a different local ceramicist every month. Either choose based on which plant you prefer or what sort of pot you are after. We also sell a range of botanical wares to accompany your plants, from secateurs, watering cans and misters, to indoor plant food, delicate leaf dusting brushes, and seed packs.
What is on the sill this month?
The sill is looking a little different this month. There was a lot of uncertainty about how things would unfold in light of the pandemic, but thankfully we’ve been able to stay operating, adjusting the way we work to ensure the safety of our staff and customers. We made the decision to simplify slightly and focus on one beautiful, hardy plant to hero for the month. So April is all about the Monstera! It’s without a doubt one of our fave pieces of foliage; who can resist those graphic, glossy leaves? Thankfully they are also delightfully easy to care for, so it’s a win-win.
Beyond the online store, you’ve published two books, Leaf Supply in 2018 and Indoor Jungle in 2019. What inspired you to put pen to paper?
Writing a book was never really something we’d thought about in all honesty but we were lucky enough to be approached by a publisher who was wanting to create an indoor plant book and liked what we had created with Leaf Supply. It was a huge learning curve for us but an incredible opportunity that we’re so grateful for. It's been such a privilege to work with Smith Street Books, and we’ve made some incredible connections shooting all the people and locations featured in the books. Plant people really are the best and are so generous with their time and knowledge. We’re both huge stickybeaks and love nothing more than getting a glimpse into the spaces of creative plant-loving people and clearly we’re not alone. Seeing the way other people incorporate plants into their homes and workspaces is such a great way to get ideas and inspiration for how you can bring them into your own spaces. While creating the books has been a huge undertaking, we’ve been blown away by the lovely comments and feedback. Seeing and hearing that people around the world are using books and learning from them is incredible. We’re currently working on book three which will be out later in the year!
Tell us about your homes, how have you approached curating your own indoor jungles?
I’m usually the one that heads out to the nurseries to select the plants every month and inevitably I come home with a thing or two for myself as well. Let’s call it research. I have a mix of large dramatic plants such as a huge mini monstera (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma) in our bedroom, and palms in the bathroom; and smaller guys like calathea orbifolia (Goeppertia orbifolia) and various carnivorous plants scattered on all our sideboards and shelves. Like Lauren, I’ve also got a little one, so I’ve had to move everything out of reach. Once trailing plants like my devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) have now been trained on hooks up the wall, and floor dwellers have been propped up on plant stands. We have a garden now, so I let Rafi get his hands dirty out there instead. Light is the most crucial consideration, but otherwise, I’m just guided by my heart and am always experimenting with unusual specimens to sit alongside my steadfast Monstera and Epipremnum.
My husband and I recently moved into a new, larger rental apartment after having our daughter Frankie mid last year. The complex has an amazing plant-filled atrium (which definitely helped sell it to me) that not only looks beautiful but helps with passive cooling. The apartment itself has lots of natural light which is always a high priority for me and very much appreciated by the plants! I’ve got about 60 plants at the moment which was significantly reduced to make the move less painful as well as to ensure they are out of the way of my very curious ten-month-old. She loves plants but just a little too aggressively at this point, ha! I absolutely love the life they bring to the space and there’s not a room that doesn’t have at least a few pieces of greenery. I’ve got a real mix of easy-care classics like Figs, Monstera, and Philodendrons along with some rarer beauties I've collected over the years or been gifted cuttings of such as a string of needles (Ceropegia longifolia) and a skeleton key philodendron (Philodendron tortum). My addiction to ceramics means I've got lots of amazing planters for all my babies. I love playing around with plant heights and textures to create vignettes in different parts of the space. Bookshelves and plant stands are great for displaying trailing foliage and look amazing styled with books and pieces collected from my travels.
Greenery can bring a room to life but what are some of the health benefits of keeping indoor plants?
Various studies have proven that plants significantly improve levels of productivity, concentration, creativity, and general well-being. Personally, we find the act of nurturing plants incredibly therapeutic. Tending to their needs, and watching them thrive is truly rewarding stuff.
From brass misters to goatskin gardening gloves - your edited collection of botanical wares is enough to inspire even the worst of gardeners. What tools and botanical wares should every indoor gardener own?
A beautiful and functional watering can is a must. One with a narrow spout is great for precision watering especially for smaller potted plants but works equally well for bigger ones too. Lots of indoor plants hail from tropical rainforests where humidity is high so our brass water mister is really handy for increasing the humidity in our often dry homes. A good sharp pair of secateurs are great for pruning off dead foliage as well as for taking cuttings to propagate into more plant babies. And indoor plants require a nutrient top-up during the warmer months, so our liquid indoor plant food is essential.
Describe an average day in the Leaf Supply studio
First up the girls get packaging all the plants and botanical wares ready for delivery that day. Writing out the sweet notes people send to each other is a definite highlight. Then a bit of plant maintenance, watering, and repotting as required. Sophia might have headed off to the nurseries, and Lauren might be designing some new content. We’re often working on collaborations with other brands, and at the moment a big part of our day is taken up with writing and designing our next book.
When it comes to workwear, what are your everyday essentials?
You’ll usually find me in blue jeans and a white tee or linen shirt. In winter, I love wearing dresses with knee-high boots and thick knits.
Jumpsuits and overalls are definitely my go-to and I love linen for its comfort and the way it breathes. When I'm not in a onesie I love a high-waisted, wide-leg pant with a tee tucked in and you can’t go past a good pair of jeans! If I’m not in my black Birkenstocks then it’s my Veja sneaks because #mumlyfe.
Finally, what are your top 5 tips for taking care of indoor plants?
Choose plants that will thrive in your space
One of the most important tips for caring for your indoor plants is actually choosing the ones that will work best in your space. Our indoor plants rely entirely on us to provide them with the right light, water, food, and humidity requirements to thrive. If your space doesn’t facilitate the right conditions you’re setting yourself up for failure. Really get to know your space, identify your light sources, and analyse the way the natural light moves through your space over the course of the day. Most indoor foliage will thrive in bright, indirect light with many varieties appreciating some gentle morning sun. If light is limited your best bet is opting for varieties that will tolerate lower light conditions such as devil’s ivy, spider plants or the unkillable zanzibar gem. On the other hand, most desert dwelling cacti and succulents will need a tonne of direct sun in order to survive.
Get your watering schedule right
Watering tends to be the area of plant care that most people get wrong. Many a plant has met an untimely death due to over or under watering. While all plants should be potted in vessels with drainage holes that allow excess water to escape from the base, how often you water will depend on the water requirements of your plant. Many cacti and succulents will require you to wait until most of their potting mix is dry before watering again. While most foliage plants have moderate water needs, meaning you should allow the top two to five centimetres of potting mix to dry between drinks. Plants with high water needs such as Maidenhair ferns and many collectors Anthuriums enjoy a consistently moist mix. Only let the very top of the potting mix dry out.
Keep plant leaves dust-free
Just like our furniture, indoor plants gather dust which can discourage effective photosynthesis and therefore prevent our plants from living their best lives. Using a damp cloth or a soft brush, gently wipe leaves to remove any built up debris.
Check in regularly with your plants
Paying attention to our plants helps with recognising not only when they’re thriving but when they’re not looking their best. Leaves looking droopy? Perhaps you need to up your watering. Crispy brown edges forming on your foliage? Humidity levels might be too low. Pests and disease can strike when a plant is weak so the quicker you can respond to any issues that arise the better the chance of the plant returning to full health.
Don’t beat yourself up when plants die
Even the most skilled gardeners experience plant deaths. Disappointing though it may be, try and see it as a lesson learned. Perhaps you’ve worked out that your space doesn’t get enough light to keep a cactus happy, or you may not have provided your maidenhair fern with consistently moist soil. You’ll know for next time, so just accept it as a normal part of the process.
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*Images supplied by Leaf Supply. Portrait by Jessie Ann.