Welcome back to the Ecopotter series. This time is the turn of Thomas Goyvaerts, aka Planttrekker, a self-professed houseplant advisor and seasoned botanical journalist. Thomas’ journey into the world of botanicals started in childhood after growing up in the family-owned flower shop. We catch up with him in the year of 2021, where Thomas has an impressive following of over 100k on Instagram, is juggling running botanical workshops for both kids and adults, as well as tending to his, quite frankly, huge personal plant collection.
Here at Ecopots, we know how important community is. Through the simple act of storytelling, we aim to create an online space where like-minded individuals can connect and inspire one another.
There are a million ways to live in a greener way, and this is just one story.
Hey Thomas! We are over the moon to have you as our Ecopotter this month. Where did your love affair with plants begin?
Hi guys! I’ve been growing plants ever since I was raised in my parents’ flower shop. As soon as I started living on my own, I knew I wanted an urban jungle - preferably one that would make me feel as if I was literally living in a jungle. After my studies, I went backpacking around the world, visiting some amazing places, from the Amazon rainforest to the Galápagos Islands to the forests of Sweden.
Once I returned home again, I dug deep and went full steam ahead into my urban jungle dream. After about one year, my collection grew to over 400 plants in the apartment I shared with my boyfriend and our cat. It was crowded, busy and green - my little piece of heaven on earth.
When did you start your business as Planttrekker and what inspired you to make it your full-time career?
After 10 years of working in sales, I thought it was time to finally take a big step towards my own happiness; I decided to take a leap of faith and start my own business. There has always been a lot of love and happiness in my life - most of it linked to plants, people and nature. Now I get to combine my love for plants and people into my daily activities. With Planttrekker, I give botanicals workshops, visit people at home or at work to help with installing and caring for their houseplants and I frequently write articles on plants for magazines and companies. All this whilst working in a plant-filled home office - I’m living my dream!
Tell us a little bit about the services you offer such as your workshops.
We give workshops on botanical topics in our office in Antwerp and at schools, stores and businesses all throughout Belgium & the Netherlands. These range from houseplant care for beginners and experts, making terrariums, and plant workshops for kids; we also do team building exercises, bachelorettes, birthday parties etc. There are so many ways to share the green love with all these lovely people all around me. During the Covid pandemic, we have also expanded our range to online workshops, which have been an amazing success so far.
Why do you think an interest in plants is beneficial? What do you find the most rewarding about what you do?
There is something soothing and uplifting about taking care of your very own urban jungle, whether it’s just one or two plants, or a gigantic green group in your home. You can watch them develop, flourish, and even propagate them into more plants if you want. They’re the green gift that just keeps on giving.
There’s also a psychological benefit here; being surrounded by nature helps us to relax and feel safe. We can’t always find the time to go out into the woods, so surrounding yourself with plants in your home is the next best thing.
How many plants do you have in your care at the moment? And which one is the current favorite?
At the moment, I have about 250 - due to the success of my business, I had to shrink down my collection, as I couldn’t give all of them the care they needed. However, as I’ll be moving into a more permanent workspace in the future, I’ll make sure to raise those numbers closer to 400 again!
My absolute favourite houseplant is still the Ficus Lyrata - better known as the Fiddle Leaf Fig. These gorgeous plants have beautiful, curvy leaves and come in many different shapes and sizes - all of them beautiful! Fun fact: our corgi puppy is called Ficus, named after this gorgeous plant species.
What are your top tips for novice plant parents?
Start your journey with the basics. Make sure you use a high-quality soil and fertilizer - preferably organic - as this makes a massive difference for your plants in the long run. Make sure to analyse your home, so you know what sort of lighting and humidity you can provide your plants. Good preparation will help you to pick the right plants, preventing a lot of stress for both you and your houseplants.
Which plants are super easy to care for?
There are quite a few! However, the basic rule here is always the same - an ‘easy’ plant will only be easy if you give them the right care, so always read up before you make your choice! My top three easy houseplants are the Zamioculcas and Sansevieria (for either sunny or shady spots) and the Aglaonema (for shady spots) in your home. They require little attention to grow big and beautiful.
You mentioned your adorable little corgi called Ficus. Are there any toxic plants you have had to reconsider or keep out of her way since becoming a dog dad?
A very good question! There are actually quite a lot of popular houseplants that are poisonous to both cats and dogs. We trained our puppy Ficus from a very young age to leave the leaves and branches of our botanical buddies alone. So far, she’s doing a great job, however she’ll often sneak off to have a nibble at my moss poles!
Some of the plants you might want to avoid if your pets love to nibble are: Alocasia, Strelitzia, Zamioculcas, Dieffenbachia and the all-time queen - the Monstera!
What does the future look like for Planttrekker? Any big plans?
For now, the main goal is just to keep on doing what I’m doing - spread the botanical love, build a big, permanent greenhouse as a workspace here in Antwerp and travel the world loving plants and visiting plantastic people and places!
How do you make sure you are making sustainable choices as Planttrekker?
As a nature and plant lover, it’s very important to me to ensure my daily activities are as sustainable as they can be. I choose organic houseplant potting soil and fertilizer which is locally produced; this does wonders for both my plants and my ecological footprint. Other than that, I also try to buy plants that were grown by local horticulturists. It really makes a difference.
Another choice I have made is to switch to ecological and durable materials when working with my plants; an example of this is my recent switch to the sustainable Ecopots collection. My plants get a new casing that not only comes in a glorious design, but is also made of 80% recycled plastics. We’re making the world a cleaner place and looking fabulous doing it!
Lastly, what is your coolest plant-related fun fact?
Houseplants, terrariums, bouquets... they all work wonders for your health! They purify the air by extracting toxins, help reduce noise pollution indoors and they bring down your stress levels. They’re the easiest way to transform your home into a peaceful, happy place. You deserve a nice space to become the best version of yourself, and plants are ready to support you along the way!
Incredible Thomas! Thank you so much for this wonderful insight into your world.