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Indoor Plant Projects for Stress Relief with Perla Sofía Curbelo-Santiago, Ep 225



​​Do you feel a little sad or bored being stuck inside this winter (at least those in the northern hemisphere)? I hope the winter months haven’t got you down too much because I know we’re all feeling a bit cooped up lately. That’s why I brought on a new plant friend, Perla Sofía Curbelo-Santiago, a gardening expert and horticultural therapist, to share some of her favorite simple DIY indoor plant projects to spark joy during these months. Note that these are all featured in her new book ¡Verdura! – Living a Garden Life, which celebrates little plant-inspired passion projects to nurture our creativity!


In this episode, we learn:

  • [01:53] Rebranding of my YouTube Channel
  • [02:43] Introducing Perla Sofia Curbelo-Santiago aka Agrochic!
  • [04:24] How did Perla develop her passion for gardening and plants?
  • [07:05] How did Agrochic start?
  • [09:38] How did Perla balance Spanish and English content?
  • [11:32] What does her plant collection and garden look like?
  • [15:08] Make meditation more relaxing and meaningful with Wind River’s Meditation Chimes!
  • [16:51] Learn how to grow cut flowers with The Cut Flower Handbook’s beautiful illustrations!
  • [18:41] Why are people drawn to nature and plants right now? 
  • [21:08] Seeking simplicity to escape social media overstimulation
  • [22:08] Perla’s interesting success stories about bringing plants into clients' lives
  • [29:17] What is nature’s role in mood and healing?
  • [30:42] Concept of gardening as a means to reconnect with one's inner child
  • [34:18] Rediscover a sense of “awe” and childlike wonder
  • [38:21] What is Perla’s barefoot garden project all about?
  • [45:02] How do you create a miniature garden for yourself?
  • [50:34] Get Perla’s book and follow her on social media!



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Growing Joy: The Plant Lover's Guide to Cultivating Happiness (and Plants) by Maria Failla, Illustrated by Samantha Leung

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Who is Perla?

Perla has adored plants since childhood when she would collect flowers around her neighborhood to make little bouquets for her room. 

This led to the launch of her Spanish gardening website Agrochic 15 years ago. She has since expanded her reach by leading workshops in English for Garden Communicators International and establishing her English website, My Garden Break.


Why Plants Make Us Happy

Perla reminded me that plants are great because anyone can have them, whether you live in a small apartment or have a backyard. Taking care of a small potted plant and watching it grow can make you feel happier for days!

This speaks to the innate human love of nature known as biophilia. After two years stuck inside due to the pandemic, it’s no wonder that adding a little greenspace can help us ease feelings of isolation.


Garden Makeovers

Perla enjoys helping people create beautiful and therapeutic backyard spaces or little nooks. As part of her project, she partners with a Puerto Rican hardware store to select one raffle winner each year, transforming their garden space.

For example, one lady wanted a peaceful spot to drink coffee with her husband. She also loved trees and birds. So Perla added nice patio furniture, some flowering trees by the windows, and even a Buddha on a stand too. She brought in a bird bath too—all done in one day! 

I think it is so thoughtful to create outdoor areas for people’s exact needs. A fresh, green space to sit in helps them feel less worried.


Fun Plant Projects To Try

Here are some easy indoor plant projects you can make with affordable or free materials:

Barefoot Garden 

One of my favorite things from ¡Verdura! is the Barefoot Garden. It's a special garden that lets you walk barefoot, even in the winter!

Fill a wide, shallow bonsai pot with fragrant lemon thyme, adding a large stepping stone to stand on.

Put one foot on the stone and one in the thyme, and brush your feet back and forth on the herbs. This gives a nice massage and also smells relaxing!


Miniature Garden 

Add tiny details to bring your miniature garden to life. Miniature chairs, cars, figurines—let them spark stories and scenes. Perla recommends sketching plans first to map out designs before buying plants and accessories. With so many small plants available nowadays, it’s easy to find pieces to fit your vision.

If live plants don't work, try fake florals, rocks, bricks, moss, and others that won’t need sunlight or water.


Gardening for Your Inner Child

What things made you happiest as a kid? Mermaids, Pokémon, skateboarding? Design an area filled with plants and items that remind you of your carefree youth. It will help you relax and be joyful like a kid again.


Plant projects like these show how even one plant can change someone's mood for the better. Perla's garden ideas spread joy to people who really need it. 


Mentioned in our conversation:



Thank you to our episode sponsors:

Wind River Chimes

Bring more peace, serenity, and magic into your home with chimes. Wind River is a Virginia-based company creating premium handcrafted and hand-tuned wind chimes for over 35 years. If you are looking for a new way to grow joy in your life and find a moment of peace, a Wind River chime is the perfect addition to your home or garden. Plus, it's a perfect personalized gift for your loved ones!

Visit and use code GROWINGJOY to receive free engraving on all Corinthian Bells wind chimes.

Quarto: The Cut Flower Handbook by Lisa M Ziegler

One of the most joyful things you can do in the garden is to grow flowers! If you are interested in upping your cut flower game, make sure to grab The Cut Flower Handbook by professional flower farmer Lisa M Ziegler. It is the bouquet-building bible gardeners have been waiting for! Included in The Cut Flower Handbook are 50 extensive flower profiles, planting tips, instructions, and images on how to pinch plants, how to make your cuts, how to dig a planting bed, and more. Plus, there are over 200 photos of the best cut flowers for home gardeners to grow and advice on caring for a cutting garden.

Pre-order now online or in-store, and if you're checking out this episode after February 27th, pick it up at your favorite local bookstore,,, Barnes &Noble or



Follow Perla:
Website – Spanish
Website – English


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Order my book: Growing Joy: The Plant Lover's Guide to Cultivating Happiness (and Plants) by Maria Failla, Illustrated by Samantha Leung

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