I have tested many of them and they are really remarkable! I also share the same philosophy in houseplant care as Veronica, so I am very confident in promoting Veronica’s products. They have the seal of approval of the Ohio Tropics.
Check out my interview with Veronica below to see what she has to say. I am really excited about these pot mixes and have seen great results with my own plants!
SUSTAINABLE POTTING SOIL MIXTURES – AN INTERVIEW WITH VERONICA OH HAPPY
1. How long have you been growing plants? How did the plant passion begin?
I remember planting my first seeds when I was about 5 years old, but I probably helped my parents plant things before that. My son helped me in the garden at the age of 2, so I could imagine that it was the same for me. We are a very plant-friendly family.
When I was 11, I got my first houseplants, which were all mine. This included an asparagus fern, when I started to learn that we need to adapt our plants to our personalities.
Unfortunately, Mr. Fern did not make it. Historically, I was a somewhat careless waterer. I’m certainly feeling better now, but only because I’m also a coach and a big fan of a good system 🙂
In my 20s, the number of plants I had went up and down with the changes in life, but since I was 28, they have simply increased.
That’s when I started working with an “interiorscape” company that took care of plants in offices and lobbies, so many rescue operations came home with me 🙂
Now I have north of 150 plants (inside; God knows how many more outside), including some real monsters. It’s a jungle and I love it 🙂
2. When and why did you start making your own pot mixes? What prompted this?
I’m one of those people who needs to know why – so during my years at interiorscape, I always noticed patterns of plant behavior and searched for answers online. Potting soil has a lot to do with plant health, since the root system is essentially the “gut” of the plant.”
If the soil holds back enough water to successfully grow a plant in a field under a shade cloth in California, it will hold back way too much if you put the same plant in a poorly lit corner in a company office.
Understanding why plants are in what I call “nursery soils” will help us understand what plants need, if we take into account all the changes when moving to a home environment.
The light decreases, the air flow typically decreases, the relative humidity changes, the temperature usually decreases – everything leads to reduced photosynthesis and growth, which corresponds to a lower water consumption.
Well, I know that you are well aware that deep watering stimulates a plant to develop a strong, healthy root system. The answer is definitely NOT to give a plant a teeny drink. The answer is to wet the soil thoroughly, but make sure that the soil retains only the desired amount of water.
So I researched soil ingredients, measured water retention with a gram scale, figured out how hydrogen bonds are affected by soil texture and ingredient combinations, and basically worked really hard to save everyone else the trouble.
3. How do your pot mixes differ from traditional pot mixes for indoor plants? What makes them special?
The vast majority of potting soil was created for plants that are kept in containers in the open air. Most of these mixtures have also been developed for annual plants – plants that survive only one year. So these soils do not contain rock dusts or other ingredients.
They are also super absorbent because plants have a lot more sun, heat and wind outside, so they drink more water than our indoor babies. This leads to what everyone calls “overwatering,” which is just another word for a soil that contains too much water for a plant to use in a reasonable amount of time.
This led us to create 10 different floors (with a few more in development / testing). All of them are for different types of plants.
The soil composition takes into account water retention and root structure, and also adjusts the pH and specific ingredients, depending on how the soils are where the plants are native. A pilea native to the foothills of the Himalayas, which has adapted to a different type of soil than a dracaena from the African savannah.
We take all this into account when designing floors, and also adapt to the different adaptations that plants make to indoor life.
4. Who can benefit from your pot mixes?
Really, our mixtures are used both by people with massive green thumbs and collections of super rare plants, and by absolute beginners.
Often I hear from beginners who try Oh Happy Dirt, and suddenly they can keep a plant alive.
And botanists often send me an email raving about all the ingredients in our blends, because even the typical “Aroid specialty soil” mixed by hand and sold on Etsy is full of less great ingredients and not found important things.
5. For someone who would be new to using your pot mixes, what are some things they should know?
There are a few big differences. First, know that they contain less water than your standard giant bag of soil from a garden center. You may notice that you are watering more often if you were used to watering once a month.
Next, we insert a mycorrhiza inoculant into our soils. This is basically like a probiotic for your plants – beneficial fungi colonize the root zone and help break down all the tasty stuff we put in the soils.
The fuzzy white stuff is not mold, but mycorrhiza. And it’s a good thing!
Your plants will actually eject sugars and lipids around the roots to attract this fungus – you definitely want them there! You should be aware that you will see some white fluff on the surface of the floor or in the bag. Many people confuse it with mold, but these are just the mycelial hyphae.
You will see that it starts as a white fluff, then sometimes it changes its color to orange, yellow, sapphire, green or even brown / black! If it bothers you, just stir the surface of the soil. After a few weeks it stops growing above ground and stays at the bottom of the pot 🙂
Interesting facts: mycelium accounts for 25% of the world’s biomass! That is, if you put every living thing (every piece of plankton, every shark, every blade of grass, all the compost, every speck of living or dead material) on Earth in a large bucket, 1/4 of it would be mycelium.
Totally crazy, right? Mycelium drives the earth and it is one way plants communicate with each other. So it only makes sense to include it in our soils.
The last thing is that many of our mixtures contain rice husks. We don’t cook these (which finishs all the seeds) because it breaks down the soil faster and we want your soil to hold.
So you can see some rice sprouting in your plants after repotting. You can either pull them out, push the small grasses into the pot so that they decompose as green manure, or let them grow.
Congratulations, you are now a farmer!
6. What are your most popular products? They also have products other than pot mixes.
Our first product, the plant bath, was definitely our most popular for a long time. It is a leaf cleaning product that leaves a beautiful shine on the leaves, but does not clog the pores or artificially looks like leaf gloss products based on mineral oil.
I absolutely love this product and use it all the time at home. I also use my lambswool houseplant dust for cleaning. These two products are all you need, plus a little elbow grease!
We also carry everything from bypass pruning shears to our habitat blends. These are the same ingredients that we use in our soils, but without coconut and other soil components. If you are mixing soil at home, you can add some magic from Oh Happy Plants to your mix 🙂
7. Which product are you most proud of?
This is not really a product: we are completely dedicated to our customers. From the podcast for the exchange of information to our approach to customer service, we have built this company on a solid foundation and keep this as our top priority as we grow.
I absolutely love the people I serve – they are great and we can just be human together. I am very happy to continue to serve this community 🙂