Indoor Plant Passions: Adam Critien

In Plant Passions this week we talk to Adam Critien, Adam has a beautiful Instagram account where he shares his passion for Terrariums, vivariums, living walls and weird plants. Here are some of the things we learned...

I’m Adam, and I live in rural Buckinghamshire with my wife Laura, our baby son and about 300 houseplants. I’ve been fascinated by the natural world since I was a young child, and plants are just one part of that obsession - my background is actually in ornamental aquatics and I’ve kept and bred hundreds of species of fish, invertebrates, corals and aquatic plants.

I have quite an eclectic interest in different plant groups and my Instagram feed reflects that, so rather than focusing on one or two groups of plants, my feed covers a lot! You’ll see plenty of my different plant projects (such as my living wall, vivariums and terrariums), as well as aroids, orchids, carnivorous plants and caudiciforms.

I’ve learnt so much from other people on Instagram, and I think it’s so important to share knowledge with each other, so I try and provide tips and advice where I can. I get asked a lot of questions about my living wall and terrariums, so if you’re curious about how I’ve done something please do ask. I also love playing guitar and interior design/styling, so those interests make an occasional appearance on my feed as well.

My parents and grandparents enjoyed gardening, and also had a few plants around their homes as well, so I’ve always had plants around me. However I think my passion for plants really took off around 8 years ago. I was diagnosed with bowel cancer and while I was off work undergoing treatment I became more and more interested in houseplants. It was really nice to be able to grow a few plants inside at a time when I was too unwell to be able to do much in the garden, or even leave the house that often. My interest in plants has really snowballed since then!

That’s such a tough question! Carnivorous plants were what initially drew me into the plant hobby, so I’ve got a real soft spot for them. But lately I’ve become really interested in jewel orchids and also caudiciforms (especially the group known as “ant plants”). My favourite changes from week to week, but right now it’s probably my Dioscorea elephantipes as it’s just coming out of dormancy and producing a new vine which has been so interesting to watch.

Pay close attention to the substrate. I’ve noticed that lots of plant lovers obsess over light, humidity, feeding and watering (all of which are of course so important) but don’t always pay much attention to what they are growing their plants in. In my experience most packaged houseplant composts are way too heavy and don’t drain well enough. And what’s worse is many also contain peat, which is so unsustainable and really unnecessary. I use a blend of sustainably sourced orchid bark, sphagnum moss and ground coconut coir and I vary the blend to suit different plants. I’ve had great success with this, including with carnivorous plants!

I do like Cactus and have a few in my collection, but for me it’s all about the tropicals. I’m a real foliage lover, from big lush tropical leaves down to the delicate shingling leaves of a Marcgravia!

If you want to know more about Adam please follow him @earthchampion

If you’d like to see a video we have made about general houseplant care, have a look here.

Plant Passions is a series of articles where we focus on plant people we admire. If you want to be considered for a future plant passion entry please get in touch @happy_houseplants

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