• UO Guide: Plant Care with Tara Galuska

    Feeling like adding a little greenery to your life? We're here to help! Artist Tara Galuska rounded up five of her favorite houseplants and taught us just how easy it is to keep them alive. (Even for those of us with 0 green thumbs.)

    Hi Tara! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
    Hi! I create poetry with paper. I am an artist and illustrator who uses paper to create intricate sculptural paper objects, creatures and compositions. When I’m not absorbed in creating my world of paper I like drinking tea, daydreaming and having baths. I live, make and dream in an apartment in New Westminster BC, Canada with my husband, two cats (Daisy and Bijou) and a bunch of plants!

    What first drew you to creating your plant cut-outs?
    The plants in my apartment are like little personalities and artworks all in themselves! I feel connected to all of them and before I started doing this work I’d spend a lot of time looking at them and getting lost in their beautiful leaves. The subject matter for my work is usually the things that stop me dead in my tracks and give me the time and space to reflect, so of course my little plant friends needed to be recreated, celebrated and explored with paper! The fact that these pieces really resonate with other people makes me know I am not the only one who feels connected to the plants in my home or out and about in the larger world!

    How long does it take you to make one of your creations? It seems so intricate!
    For any artwork it really takes me my whole life up to that point to make it! The timeline for the process of physically making individual pieces does vary. For a tiny artwork I’d say it can take between half an hour to 4 hours to construct a piece. For one of my sculptural pieces I’d say around 10 hours is the average (after I’ve done all my research and planning beforehand, of course)!

    You mentioned that you used to not be that great with plants but you've slowly worked your way up to a successful plant mom. Can you tell us a little bit about how you used to care for plants and what you were doing wrong?
    I used to wildly swing between the extremes of plant “care.” I’d shower my plant in “love” and go wild with the watering can and over-water a plant. Then, when it looked miserable and I realized what I'd done, I’d freak out and dry it out almost completely to within an inch of its life, then panic and over-water and then…dead plant. Another thing I would do is just choose a plant based on how it would look as part of my decor. Big mistake! Plants only thrive under the right conditions and you can’t will them to be happy in conditions that aren’t right for them. Between these two things it was a vicious cycle and I was the worst plant mom until I realized that it was time to do my research and ask for help!

    What do you do now that helps them thrive?
    Simply? I do what the instructions, the experts and my plants tell me! I used to take it so personally when a plant died and was super panicked about the whole plant ownership thing which only contributed to my over-watering/under-watering cycle. By taking a step back and doing my research and asking experts I was able to shift my perspective. With a little trial and error I was on my way!

    My big secret is my friend Julie who is a plant genius! I ask her lots of questions and she gives the best advice. Whenever she comes over she’ll check out my plants and give me hints and tips that are literal life savers. If I am having a real plant crisis I’ll text her with photos and she’ll know what to do. I know we can’t ALL be friends with Julie but you can get friendly advice from the people at the store you buy your plants from. I find that plant people are super generous with their knowledge so just ask. Also, the internet knows everything so go there too!

    Are there any plants you recommend for first-time plant owners out there, preferably ones that are hard to kill?
    I’ve killed at least one of every “impossible” to kill plant there is! However, for me personally I would say I have the most success with cacti. As long as they have some sunshine they really seem to thrive on neglect and that works really well for me so why not give them a shot?

    What's a plant tip that you found out the hard way?
    Early in my plant days I was looking at a corner in my living room and I thought, “Gee a little cactus would really liven that spot up!” So I moved my favorite cactus from its home on my windowsill into the corner and it looked great for about a week. Then, all of a sudden, it was brown and sagging and DEAD! I asked my plant genius friend what happened and she very kindly pointed out that a sudden move from a bright sunny windowsill to the darkest, coldest corner of my place in the dead of winter was never going to work out for a cactus. The lesson? Plants might be great for decorating but they are living beings and you have to be sensitive to their needs!

    Speaking of decorating, do you love the look of a specific plants or have any favorites?
    I am loving Golden Pothos right now! They are really hardy and I love the look of leaves tumbling down a wall or bookcase so I have three dotted around my place. Cacti, too, because they don’t need much work and look amazing/a little scary with the spikes. Also, in my artwork and home right now I am really going crazy over succulents!

    To see more from Tara, follow her on Instagram
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