Kamili Bell Hill of Plantblerd Is All About the Power of Plants

Creator of the Instagram blog Plantblerd, New Rochelle’s Kamili Bell Hill just released a colorful new book on the benefits of greening your home with houseplants.

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Kamili Bell Hill has blazed her own trail. First drawing a 60,000-strong following with her Plantblerd Instagram account (“Blerd” is a portmanteau of Black and nerd), Hill gave people of color some representation in the fast-growing world of post-pandemic plant care. Building upon her success, Hill has now written the book, Happy Plants, Happy You, which offers a unique and fun take on the emotional benefits and beauty of plants. We caught up with the longtime New Rochelle resident to get a sense of her new book, what motivates her, and what lies ahead.

How did you fall in love with plants?

When I grew up, my mom had our apartment completely filled with plants. She had an indoor jungle before there was any kind of houseplant trend. It was full of ferns and Benjamina Ficus trees, which I still kill immediately whenever I try to grow them — same with ferns. I have no luck with them. My grandmother too, while her plant love was all outdoors, could grow literally anything. She emigrated up from Florida back in the 1930s to Connecticut, and her backyard in Bridgeport had fruit trees. There were cherry trees, plums, and apples. So, through my entire childhood, there’s no corner of my memories that that doesn’t have plants in it. I guess the seed was planted there.

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Kamili Bell Hill
Kamili Bell Hill amidst the flora at Larchmont Nurseries.

What inspired you to write about plants?

When I began growing plants I wanted them to thrive. I needed to learn about what they needed, how to take care of them, and in that slowing down I recognized that something real was happening. There are these real things that plants do for you. When your hands are in the dirt, it triggers your brain to produce serotonin and dopamine. Plants are relaxing. Every single room in my house now has plants in it, and when I enter a room and I see my green babies thriving, it really triggers a true feel-good response. Doing that just made me want everyone to do it.

Kamili Bell Hill

Tell us about Happy Plants, Happy You.

Happy Plants, Happy You is a guide to getting back to yourself. Obviously, it’s all about plant care, but it is also so much about self-care and abandoning this idea that you can’t put yourself first and really pour into yourself the way we pour into others. It’s true that when you are good to yourself, you are able to be better to other people; and when you’re doing good things for yourself, you can do good work. I think we, and particularly women, have been so conditioned to take care of all the things, whether it’s the kids, your job, your spouse, or your partner, and putting yourself first is somehow selfish. I think that Happy Plants, Happy You kind of busts that myth wide open and I hope that people, even if it doesn’t turn them into a crazy plant person, begin to put themselves on their to-do list.

“I hope that people, even if it doesn’t turn them into a crazy plant person, begin to put themselves on their to-do list.”
—Kamili Bell Hill

plants

What lies ahead for you?

I absolutely have other books in me. Is the next book going to be fiction? I don’t know, but fiction is what I have always wanted to write. So, I am toying with some short stories and there are a couple of entries I am submitting and, of course, they will be plant focused. —PA

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Happy Plants, Happy You
By Kamili Bell Hill
Cool Springs Press (2023)
176 pages (hc, kindle)

Related: How to Help Houseplants Thrive During Westchester Winters

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