My life in plants: Rafael Viegas Ramos

My life in plants: Rafael Viegas Ramos

He’s an architect, artist and biophilia advocate, with 100+ plants to his name. We chat all things green with Rafael Viegas Ramos.

Tell us a bit about yourself...
I'm originally from a small city in the south of Portugal. Growing up I've always had a passion for buildings and plants; within my main job as an architect, I love to incorporate biophilic design into my work and consider the effects nature has on wellness, productivity and health within the built environment. I currently have 110 plants in my UK collection and I hope to keep the number growing!

What sparked your love affair with plants?
One of my earliest memories was when I started school at the age of five and one of our first ever projects was to grow beans in plastic cups and cotton wool, it was fascinating to watch the roots grow and the plants sprouting. Fascinated with this new found hobby at home, using the same method, I started propagating with seeds I could get my hands on. I can't remember a time in my life where I have not owned plants, and my passion, enthusiasm and knowledge had continued to develop. What started as one beansprout – and let's be honest, fairly simple yet effective beginnings – swelled into self-taught cultivation two decades later!

What’s the first plant you loved?
The first plant I remember becoming very passionate about was a Ficus Benjamina growing in my grandmother's garden. I took a few cuttings and cared for it in my bedroom – it grew so big I had to plant it outside as I had no space for it indoors. I have two different species in my current collection  – despite not being the most exciting of plants it has a strong hold sentimentally for me.

And your absolute favourite plant now?
This has to be the Anthurium family; the Anthurium Warocqueanum, in particular. The long, thin dark structure with fascinatingly detailed leaves are just stunning. Unfortunately, I don't currently have one in my collection, but it is on my list!

How would you describe your plant / interior style?
This is a tricky one  –  I love boho, modernist and I think it's important to keep a balance.  But, as a biophilic advocate; I love natural materials, patterns and textures. I think it’s important to bring your own personality into a space which is what I always aim to do.

What’s your plant mantra?
If you fail, keep trying, keep learning, keep experimenting! Go greener!

What's next on your wishlist?
This has to be the Philodendron Melanochrysum. There is something quite captivating with the Melanochrysum, the velvety leaves are so interesting to look at.

Can you give us one top plant tip?
Think of the leaves of your plant as your skin, they need to be cleaned and hydrated. A layer of dust on the leaves of houseplants will block sunlight and reduce the plant's ability to photosynthesise.

For more from Rafael, follow @greenfingeredboy