Spring Green by toHOLD

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I have a black thumb. I’ve killed even the hardiest of cactii. Murdered rosemary. Killed ferns. So I’m not the most reliable gardening-type, which is why I love Kara Bartelt’s terrariums.The founder of architecture firm Lettuce Office (with her husband Michael Chung) and USC professor is a transplanted midwesterner and the women behind toHOLD’s line of botanical decor.

toHOLD features live tillandsia air plants, designed to resist the murderous impulses of even black thumbs like me. The company just celebrated it’s first anniversary and was recently awarded a Top 25 Seller of all-time for Etsy in the Plants/Edibles category. (Full disclosure: Kara launched toHOLD at an event I co-organized for design east of La Brea last year).

With spring approaching, I asked Kara to name her three favorite designs this season (all are available for sale on Etsy):

Live Lamp is a limited edition lamp; a glowing nest of eighty live Fuschii v Gracillis tillandsia air plants mounted to a blown glass orb. Illuminated internally by a CFL grow lamp, these epiphytic plants survive with no dirt – just UV, air and a little moisture. This particular lamp takes 7-10 days to produce, each one is signed and numbered, and is priced at $395. The lamp has been published worldwide, most recently in a German horticulture mag and an Italian design mag.


Suction Succulent might be my perfect plant since they don’t need a lot of direct sunlight and even thrive in a steamy bathroom.  You can stick these guys anywhere: kitchen cabinets, bathroom mirrors, showers, shower doors, windows, furniture. And the plants are cleverly mounted on a tab that inserts into the cup so you don’t have to remove the whole cup every time you water the plant. Each cup is about 1″ in diameter and the medium sized plants range from 3-5 inches tall. Each one costs $10.95 on Etsy.

Finally, for those of us who have trouble deciding, Kara offers a Mixed Bag of three or a Mixed Box of five. Three small (1-2″) air plants or five small to medium (2″-8″) air plants can be arranged however you like. Kara suggests placing them in “a fancy tea cup, a clear vase, or those soy sauce platters that you only pull out for sushi night.” These are also easy to care for, just requiring some water once a week and a little light (even office flourescents will do nicely).

Check out the rest of toHOLD’s designs on Etsy  and Kara’s studio site here.

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