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Meet New York’s Plant Daddy

July 13, 2023

Christopher Satch isn’t just popular with plants—he has droves of lesbian fans.

Once upon a time, only Fortune 500 companies and very affluent urbanites had a “plant guy,” someone who came weekly to care for your plants, save them from dying, design the perfect light and potting, and sometimes offer lessons on their care and exactly how you’re failing at it. But then the pandemic hit and suddenly everyone was at home going gaga for monstera, philodendrons, and snake plants. Today, there are over 5 million Instagram posts hashtagged “aloe vera” while half a million are hashtagged for pincushion cactus. Plants are hot, and Christopher Satch, the Plant Doctor, is even more popular.

Christopher Satch

A professor at the New York Botanical Gardens, Satch is a horticultural expert with a master’s degree in plant science from Rutgers University and spends his time helping thousands of New Yorkers tend to their plants, learn how and what to grow (inside or out), and troubleshoot what’s making them ill. He’s been plant consulting for years, but demand got so big that he founded his official LLC last year.

Satch grew up partly on a farm, “so plants were always in my blood,” he recalls. Though he played a lot of video games too, the plants stuck. “I think that plants are fascinating creatures—able to make something like flowers or fruits out of seemingly nothing.”

He’s also a local orchid expert, a plant many find impossible to grow.

“Any plant is as easy or as hard as you want to make it,” the doc says. “That being said, have you noticed that there’s only one type of orchid being sold in stores, even though the orchid family is the largest and most diverse family on the planet? The plant industry purposely selected a harder-to-grow orchid so that you’d kill it and have to buy more. What’s worse is that the industry perpetuates bad information so that folks kill their plants, such as ‘just add ice’ to orchids. Adding ice to a tropical plant will kill it! And it’s as ingenious as it is evil. Folks blame themselves for killing the plant, when really, there’s no good info out there on how to care for them.”

His frustration with that is part of his inspiration as well. “My consultancy not only diagnoses and treats plants, but educates you about plants, so that you can grow anything. If you are curious to start growing one of the easier orchids, I recommend the coconut orchid, Maxillaria tenuifolia. It smells like coconuts, and blooms once a year at the same time with no extra effort.”

Now 32, Satch, who is gay, has picked up another nickname, “Plant Daddy.” It comes with the territory when you’re New York City’s hottest plant guy. But it’s not just gay men and straight women among his rank of fans. He’s got a lot of queer women fans, too. Why?

“I think that there’s a special connection between humans and plants,” Satch says, “and plants are so core to the basis of society, that we would be nowhere without them. Plants are also nonpolitical and don’t talk back, so they’re great companions for even the most nuanced personality. There are also so many varieties of plants, with different care conditions to match the different conditions of everyone’s homes, so there’s a plant for everyone.”

He gives lessons on how to grow plants, teaching clients exactly how plants work, why light is the most important factor in success, now to water, fertilize, pot, and more. But still his most common request is to save and treat dying plants.

“The biggest mistake most folks make when buying plants is not putting them in a window or giving them enough light,” he admits. “Folks see plants pushed into dark corners, which look good in Architectural Digest, but they don’t realize that those photos are staged, and that they are not real. Those plants are generally tossed after the photoshoot and don’t grow in those corners. Remember that light is food for plants, and the rest will fall in line naturally, including watering.”

Of course, if you get stuck, his next piece of advice? Call him. (NYCPlantDoctor.com)

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