Q&A with Maria Bustos: Why her 12-foot-tall Ficus elastica is comin on tour

Maria with her pickle plant (Delosperma echinatum)

Tell us about yourself. Hi! My name is Maria, I live in Glendale, CA. My Instagram handle is: @miss___modular. If you peep my page you will see that I love collecting vinyl, I love my cats Simone and Theo, and I have a super cool daughter Ione, and talented partner Justin.

I love watching my plants grow. Seeing a new leaf still thrills me. One of my favorite films is Harold and Maude and one of my favorite lines is when Maude tells Harold: “I like to watch things grow. They grow and bloom and fade and die and change into something else! Ah, life!” That line resonated with me when I first heard it and it does even more now.

Being a plant parent is taking an active role in the continual cycle of life. There is a responsibility that comes along with buying a plant that I really enjoy. Being in charge of its life and making sure you pay attention to its growing or lack thereof. It’s a beautiful responsibility.

Solange Knowles album with variegated hoya and prickly pear houseplants
favorite quote from Harold and Maude: "I like to watch things grow"
record player shelf with vinyl albums, houseplants, and Theo the cat
Vinyl record collection including Miles Davis and Julian Cannonball Adderley, with Simone the cat

What do you listen to while you’re taking care of your plants? Hmm, whatever is on the turntable or if I’m outside a playlist that I made. But if I want to be very specific, music/plant people love Mort Garson’s Mother Earth’s Plantasia. For me it is the glorious meeting of the two worlds I like to reside in. Also, check out Green-House! They're like the modern day Mort.

How did you become a plant person? Well, my family always gardened and had houseplants. Then I purchased three of my very own plants about 12 years ago. I bought a Ficus elastica 'Burgundy,' Ficus elastica 'Ruby' and a pencil cactus/firesticks. And I still have them all! I guess keeping them alive inspired me to keep getting more plants. I cherish those first three and I am grateful to still have them. It is a reminder why I am a still a plant parent 💚

bb Maria
Variegated African candelabra euphorbia
Begonia maculata aka polka dot plant / polka dot begonia with full angel wing leaves
very tall Ficus elastica 'Ruby,' cared for on the patio

You just booked a 30-city tour. What plant are you taking on the road and why? Well, since two of my first plants were both rubber plants, I have a deep love and respect for them. Their resiliency, their constant growth and ability to handle change is impressive. I would definitely bring any rubber plant with me.

What plant has scarred you, literally or figuratively? Ooof, I would have to say crested euphorbias. I can keep them alive for long periods but then inevitably, one day, it is a sog fest and dead. It hurts me every time. I may have to try again though heh heh 😝

variegated African candelabra euphorbia and other houseplants
Euphorbia tirucalli aka Fire sticks euphorbia aka pencil cactusor pencil plant
colorful lithops succulents, potted, next to art by Michelle Robinson
Hoya rotundiflora in pot of leca
Gritty mix for aroids like philodendron and pothos
Sansevieria cylindrica

What plants would make up your band and why? Ok, let’s see. This is a hard one. Singer: Palicourea elata or the hot lips plant because it already looks like it is oooohh’ing. Guitarist: Rhipsalis because it looks like it has long hair and rocks 🤘🏼 Bassist: Frizzle Sizzle because it is funkkayyyy. Drummer: Sansevieria cylindrica because they look like drumsticks 🥁

Best plant advice you’ve gotten in a while? Name your plants! It helps personify them and creates a commitment to take care of it.

Maria with Hellebore tee and philodendron
Maria in Hellebore tee in Sequoia National Park
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