We only recommend things we love. If you buy something through our site, we might earn a commission. Welcome to In the Garden, our occasional series featuring landscape designers, urban farmers, and plant people we love, sharing their favorite projec...
Home & Garden August 24, 2021
We only recommend things we love. If you buy something through our site, we might earn a commission.
Welcome to In the Garden, our occasional series featuring landscape designers, urban farmers, and plant people we love, sharing their favorite projects and inspiration.
How does a photographer turn into a plantscaper overnight? Meet Reagan Kastner.
The celebrity houseplant stylist and digital influencer is the “hero your dying houseplants need,” according to her profile on TikTok, where she has gained a following for her tips on how to care for and style your plants at home. She even joined Drew Barrymore on the Drew Barrymore Show in this year to demonstrate three ways to style plants throughout your home.
Kastner’s plant influencer path began when she co-founded plant rental and staging company The Plant Doctors. Simultaneously she was remodeling on her own, which only jumpstarted her interior plant decorating passion. Sharing her remodeling process and plant styling online, she gained an audience through Instagram and TikTok and was featured on major media platforms like Buzzfeed. Today she has branched out and owns an interior plantscaping company Stylush.
Kastner recently completed a renovation project for Nev Schulman, host of MTV’s Catfish. While helping Schulman navigate plant selection, she installed three major plant pieces: a piece of art using preserved moss for the windowless entryway, a vibrant plant wall as a centerpiece to the main bedroom, and a plant wall out of a bare column in the entertainment room.
“It was so rewarding to watch his space come alive, and I think plants were the final touch that really brought everything together,” Kastner said.
We spoke with Kastner to learn more about her favorite plants and tools for growing a successful garden.
Reagan Kastner: My favorite book to recommend to people when they first get into house plants is How Not to Kill Your Houseplant: Survival Tips for the Horticulturally Challenged by Veronica Peerless. It’s a quick, illustrated book that can double as a small coffee table decoration. It outlines the care guides for the most common houseplants and also has illustrations of all the common houseplant pests to look out for. It is incredibly handy to be able to quickly reference as you bring new plants into your home, as well as get inspiration for your next plant shopping trip.
My current favorite plant has to be Monstera Adansonii. Its more popular cousin, Monstera Deliciosa, the Adansonii is easy to identify because its leaves are covered in holes called fenestrations. In fact, it has earned the nickname “swiss cheese plant” because of its resemblance to the cheese. I not only love it for its striking leaves but also because it is a trailing plant. The more it grows, the more it becomes a statement piece in my decor that guests always stop and ask me about.
Growing up in San Diego, I spent so many afternoons playing in my own little world—playing in the canyons that rolled through my neighborhood. My favorite spot was covered in morning glory flowers, and they have been my favorite flower ever since. What made them so special to me was their ability to change color sometimes in a single day. Fluctuations in PH levels can cause morning glories to go from blue to purple, to even magenta. I remember waking up to see them the color blue, and returning later in the day to see the purple! That was just the beginning of my magical relationship with plants that has developed into a lifelong career.
There is no shortage of places to visit when you are in need of a little botanical inspiration. There is one place in particular that has a special place in my heart because it is located in the city I grew up in, the San Diego Botanical Gardens. I pull so much inspiration from their tropical plant room when I am plant styling for my own clients. However, the tropical plants are just one tiny part of the grounds to explore. They have different sections showcasing the native plants of different parts of the world. If you visit, make sure to check out the plants from Mexico and you may just come across my favorite sculptures—dancing people made out of succulents!
While it is easy to get caught up in all the different tools and accessories you can buy as a plant parent, I believe the most important gardening tools are your own fingers. In fact, I teach all my clients a magical trick to know exactly when to water your plants and it all starts with your fingers. Periodically you should feel about 2 inches deep into the soil. If the soil sticks to your finger when you remove it from the soil, it is too early to water your plants. If you do the finger test and no soil sticks to your finger, it’s time to water!
Growing up in Southern California, my grandma had a beautiful succulent garden that I always played in. I remember loving getting my hands dirty, and playing with her extra pots pretending to plant my own plants. Drought-tolerant plants were the norm in Southern California, and while beautiful, I became so accustomed to them I didn’t really appreciate them. When I moved to the rainy Pacific Northwest during college, my love for plants really went to the next level. The sheer variety of colors and textures of plants native to the PNW offer a lot to be inspired by. Fast forward to the present, and I have returned to my roots of Southern California where I pull inspiration from all over the West Coast while designing spaces using plants. I created a plant wall for a TikTok creator mansion in Beverly Hills called Clubhouse, and it was the perfect opportunity to use my knowledge of both drought-tolerant plants that could withstand the dry weather of Los Angeles and the colors and drifts of PNW hillside.