‘I’m the crazy plant lady’: Chantalle Ng on her deep-rooted new obsession
In the first episode of CNA Lifestyle's podcast series Pyjama Party For 2, actress Chantalle Ng geeks out about being a plant mum and how she just can't leaf them alone.
Everybody and their grandmother seems to have cultivated a love for plants these days, and actress Chantalle Ng is no different.
If you’ve been following her social media posts, you’ll know her blossoming home garden is her pride and joy.
“I’m obsessed,” she declared, while chatting with us in a recording session for CNA Lifestyle’s podcast, Pyjama Party For 2. What’s more, she thinks, gardening is the first real hobby she’s ever had.
It all started when she visited Dennis Chew at his new house. "I knew he loved plants, so I went to the nursery and got something for him,” she recalled.
After that, there was no looking back. “The whole process was just so therapeutic for me,” she said. “I got to pick something pretty. And then I watched them repot the plants, and I chose a pretty pot. And I was just like, ‘Well, this is great.’ And since I was thinking about spicing up some corners in my house, I started to shop for myself. And I just didn't stop.”
In just one month, she collected about 30 potted plants, including a rare variegated monstera with white and green leaves.
During that time, she and Dennis made trips to nurseries together “and went home with, like, 10 pots each”. “I just couldn’t stop!”
How much does she love her plants? “I talk to them every day. And I kiss them every night. So, yeah, I’m obsessed,” she giggled.
Funnily enough, her mum, actress Lin Meijiao, also loves tending to plants – but with a big difference, in Ng’s eyes.
“She has a corner where she collects her auntie plants,” the 26-year-old divulged. “You know the ones – they’re not really on trend, but the aunties like to keep them anyway.”
Um, like aloe vera? And flower pots with Chinese inscriptions on them? “Oh my gosh, she has a pot of aloe vera! And I was so p*ssed when she repotted one of my monsteras in her Chinese pot,” Ng gasped. “It's like, no, it's so ugly!”
A truce was called and detente was achieved with a mutual agreement: “We're just like, okay, you take care of your plants. Don't touch mine, please. And I will not touch yours.”
Besides being a plant lover, the actress is also an animal enthusiast. Her other baby – besides her plants – is her dog, Pretty, whom she adopted as a puppy.
“Just the other day, I was wondering – if I could choose to communicate with one of them (plants or dogs), which would I prefer?” she mused.
“For a moment, I was thinking maybe plants, because they cannot express themselves at all. With dogs, you kind of know what they're trying to express. Maybe they're in pain, or they're excited – you kind of know. But with plants, you do not.”
Her new hobby has also made her some new friends. “I realised that the plant community in Singapore is actually pretty big,” she said.
“I started to post more content about plants on my Instagram, especially the stories, and the engagement is just so high. I realised, ‘Wow, there are so many of you who are interested.’ And, yeah, it's just fun to exchange our views and thoughts about plant care. And it's really a whole new group of friends that I'm meeting now.”
She continued, “I think it's because we're all stuck at home. I started to think about (plants) because I wanted to make the space nicer. It just hooked me in. And I think for many other people, that's also the case – you start with one or two, and then slowly grow (the collection), and then think, ’Is there a space for more?’”
So intense is her obsession that her fellow actors have teased her about it. “My good friend Edwin (Goh) made a joke. He was like, ‘I think you are caring for your plants like this because biologically you're supposed to be caring for kids now.’ I think it’s true!”
She mused, “I always thought I'd be a cat or dog mum. But now, I'm the crazy plant lady. That's pretty weird. I didn't see myself like this three months ago!”
Listen to the full Pyjama Party For 2 podcast to find out which plant is her favourite, why gardening brings her so much joy, and how she’s “still waiting” for Elvin Ng “to marry me”.
New episodes of Pyjama Party For 2 are published every Sunday at cna.asia/podcasts.