Published on April 7, 2020

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Photography by Seth Smoot; Illustration by Madeline Montoya

Finding that corner with optimal sunlight, the perfect pot, and the trick for guiding a little sprout to its full, wild potential—is there anything more gratifying than helping a leafy, living thing thrive? In our new Plant Parents series, we spotlight flora lovers and their tips and tools for raising happy, healthy buds and blooms.

Sunwink cofounder Jordan Schenck has found that plants are a lot like people—they need routines. Saturday mornings in her San Francisco apartment begin with a relaxing ritual. First, she turns on Fleetwood Mac or Mulatu Astatke—although lately she and her greenery have been vibing to Talking Heads. With “Slippery People” playing on repeat in the background, she mists and dusts every leaf before smudging the area around the branches. “They grow well when they know which days of the week they will be fed and spend their time dancing with me,” says Schenck. “I like to think I’m in tune with where they’re at and vice versa.”

The Oregon native has been caring for buds for as long as she can remember. “My mom is an incredible outdoor gardener. You’ve never seen more beautiful roses, lilies, or veggies,” says Schenck. She translated that early passion into her professional life last year when she cofounded the first-ever sparkling herbal tonic beverage brand alongside Eliza Ganesh. So naturally, you’ll find little pots of mint and basil in Schenck’s home, but the main attraction is her back patio–turned–urban jungle. With good tunes bumping and freshly burned sage at her fingertips, Schenck invites us into her slice of paradise in the city and shares her tips for bringing up blooms. 

On Giving Deserted Sprouts a Fighting Chance

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Photography by Seth Smoot

My most beloved plants are the recovery ones that I’ve adopted or that had a hard time initially. I have an asparagus fern and two different philos that have almost died and been reborn into strong, beautiful plants. I think that’s the most incredible thing to experience—not just giving up and working through its second life. It’s in their DNA to survive; you just have to be patient. With water and fresh soil, they’ll come back. 

The story of the biggest tree in my backyard is pretty amazing. Years ago, I sold it to the previous tenant of this apartment. When he moved, he gave her to another neighbor in my building, and then that neighbor moved and gave it to another neighbor. Eventually, that neighbor left and she put the tree on the street. When I was walking home one day, I saw it and brought it back upstairs to my apartment. It made it back after a very long journey.

“It’s in their DNA to survive; you just have to be patient.”

On the Right Way to Gift Greenery

I love receiving propagated plants, because I feel like I have a little part of a friend’s garden living in mine. That’s how I got all of my succulents. I go on walks throughout my neighborhood and take clippings from greenery along the sidewalk all the time. 

On Strengthening Their Roots

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Photography by Seth Smoot

In the wild, tree trunks are able to get stronger with wind and the environment around them. When they’re kept in an apartment, they don’t get the same feeling of being in the wild. To help strengthen their trunks and branches, give them a little wiggle to help simulate the feeling.

On Setting the Mood

I have a little weekend ritual that involves me sageing every corner of my apartment. I try to focus on clearing out weird energy that builds up in my space throughout busy weeks, because I know my greenery can definitely feel the stress, too.

hand pointing at cactusPin It
Photography by Seth Smoot

“They grow well when they know which days of the week they will be fed and spend their time dancing with me.”

On Listening to the Light

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Photography by Seth Smoot

Displaying plants is an art and a science. You cannot force a bloom that loves sun to love the shade and vice versa, so I think a lot about my space and the light in my home before buying a new plant. I wouldn’t consider myself a parent but more of an equal, mutually exchanging resources so we can both live a long, full life.

See more plant parent stories:
Domino’s Executive Creative Director, Kate Berry, Grew a Garden in the Sky
Madewell’s Joyce Lee Shares Her Winter Plant Hit List
Every Sprout Thrives at This California Creative’s Magical Redwood Home

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