32-year-old Sales Account Manager Nur Alfisyah Nonis is a caring mother and wife. But during her free time, this plant mama spends her time sharing the love with her impressive array of plants in her cosy home.
It’s just after 2pm as the futr singapore team makes their way to Fisyah’s home. The sun is scorching and a busy day at the office meant rushed lunches for most of us. We reach Fisyah’s home and she welcomes us in.
It’s bright, airy and the mood is instantly lifted as her children, Aalia and Aadam come to say hello. The space is filled with greenery — from plants on the counter tops, the balcony and at other nooks and crannies.
“It’s so hot outside! Come sit down and have some drinks,” she says as she ushers us to bar stools by her kitchen island. Drinks are served and she even surprises us with some donuts. As she sees us getting ready to start the interview, she laughs, “eat first please!” We concede.
Already, it’s pretty obvious that Fisyah’s first nature is to nurture. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons which makes her so good at caring for her plants.
a natural, open living space.
Seated and satiated, we get a better look at the space around us. Executive Apartments in HDBs are far and few these days, but this one looks particularly spacious. “I think it’s because of the open layout,” Fisyah mentions.
“When we started looking for a house, one of the things I really wanted was an open kitchen. It’s important that I can look over and see what my kids are doing while I’m cooking. But also, I just really love how they look!” she gushes.
Various elements of Fisyah’s home were inspired by living spaces overseas, having stayed at many Airbnb’s while travelling with her family.
“The open layout really attracted me to this home. The walls were already hacked so I didn’t have to spend too much on renovation. Especially since hacking is so expensive in Singapore.” We nod in agreement.
“But when I told my friends about how I wanted an open kitchen — they told me that I’m going to need to constantly keep the area neat. It’s true, but I hate clutter and love keeping things tidy anyway. You’ll see what I mean when I show you the pantry,’ she laughs.
Fisyah also made the effort to stick to a lighter colour palette – from the choice of wall colours, to her furniture picks. “To be honest, a lot of the work here was done by my interior designer, Fatin. When she came on board, I didn’t give her specifics, I just gave her an idea of what I wanted and gave her the freedom to design. That’s the way it should be, afterall. If you need to tell an ID exactly what you want, you might as well hire a contractor, right?” she explains. “So I’ve been really happy with how everything turned out since we moved here in February last year.”
making room for more.
After nua-ing for probably longer than I should have, I ask her when she took an interest in plants. “I’ve always admired how nice plants look in homes I visited. Then one day, a friend showed me a Bird of Paradise plant that she got for her home and it was gorgeous! That was the inspiration I needed to get started,” she explains.
Having moved into her new home during the Circuit Breaker period last year, Fisyah needed to find ways to keep herself occupied. “I used to move around a lot to meet clients for my job. So when the Circuit Breaker started, it was a huge change for me. I needed a way to keep myself occupied. Gardening kept me sane. Plants are just very therapeutic.”
But just like back-to-back episodes of an exciting Netflix TV series, one thing led to another. “My very first plant was a Bird of Paradise. But I realised it looked a little lonely by itself on the balcony, so I got another one. And then another… and it spiralled from there!” she laughs.
it’s not tough when it’s fun.
Looking over at the impressive array of greenery in her balcony, I can’t help but wonder — isn’t it tricky looking after so many plants? “It really depends what sort of plants you’re looking after. There are some plants that actually thrive on neglect, like the snake plant. Some only require water once a month or every 2 weeks. So those are good plants to start with if you’re concerned about time and attention,” she explains.
I find myself honestly a little surprised. A whole month without water? Isn’t it human instinct to want to water your plants regularly? But Fisyah assures me that it’s really the case with some plants.
“Overwatering is worse than underwatering. I used to have a Monstera plant that only had to be watered once a week. So I did, but it died anyway and I wasn’t sure why. It turned out that the soil didn’t have enough drainage. You’ve also got to be mindful of things like weather, humidity that could affect the plants too.”
naturally, it’s a family thing.
At this point, her daughter Aalia comes over to shyly ask her how to spell a word for her homework. I ask if the kids help caring for her plants too. “Yes, but mainly just spraying water and Plantonic – which is a fertiliser, pest-repellent, and revitaliser that’s super safe and organic. But… other than that, I try not to get them too involved because Aadam likes plucking the plant leaves off,” she laughs.
Fisyah shares that she gets most of her plants from nurseries she visits over the weekends with her family. She mentions that her mother keeps plants too, but mainly herbaceous ones. “She grows everything from tomatoes, curry leaves to chillies. Herbs are something I don’t think I can do,” she explains. “They require a lot more attention and extra care. I don’t think I could deal with the stress!”
you’ve gotta start somewhere.
To learn how to care for her plants, Fisyah spends a lot of time reading about them online. I’m certain she’s namedropped scientific names of several plants (‘philodendron birkin’ and something ‘mojito’) in the short time we’ve been talking.
The way she talks about her plants reminds me a little of how one would talk about a loved one or family pet. It’s really pretty endearing. As we wrap up, I ask her if she has any final advice for those thinking about getting plants for their homes, or trying their hand at gardening.
“Plants are a great way of creating a more natural environment at home! But remember, be patient and never give up. It might be tricky at the start, but the more you learn, the more fun it gets!” she says.
But… what if I try and still fail?
“Ok la Brin, IKEA has a fantastic collection of artificial plants,” she laughs as she pats me reassuringly on my shoulder.
image credits: Marcus Lim