Interior and plant stylist Hilton Carter has a special connection to living things. His carefully curated Instagram account (@hiltoncarter) is a virtual planetarium; every post arouses your senses. His well-lit studio, located in Baltimore’s historic Whitehall Mill neighborhood, is transformative.
From the moment you enter, you feel at ease. Towering tropical leaves grow wild throughout the open space while petite potted cacti thrive on east-facing windowsills, where they receive the bright, early-morning sun they need. Carter knows exactly what each of his lush beauties requires. He tends to a total of 300 of them, 128 here in his studio and 182 at his home.
He takes being a plant parent seriously. “Caring for plants provides the moments to think about how to treat people,” he says. “It’s one of the few times I find myself pulled away from the screen. I get into my zen watering, checking the soil, looking at the leaves, making sure they’re okay. The process makes me more self-aware.”
Caring for plants provides the moments to think about how to treat people. I get into my zen making sure they’re okay.”
In 2011 while shooting a commercial for a retirement community in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, Carter stumbled onto the greenhouse cafe Terrain. “There was glass and plants everywhere,” he recalls. “I felt so comfortable and relaxed, but also like I was missing out. I said, ‘I want this for my life, a space that feels like this.
This isn’t a rich man’s situation.’” And thus, the seed was sown and the journey began. Carter’s gift of styling and propping plants in office and living spaces is what makes his work distinguishable—his plants bloom amid books and textiles, modern and vintage furniture, light fixtures and art. Wherever they live, they beam.
They descend from high ceilings and propagate in glass and wooden cradles mounted on walls. It’s his signature and his forte. “I’m an artist first,” he says. “I graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art with a B.F.A. in painting and drawing. I got a master’s in film. I love interior styling, and now I’m also very into plants.”
WILD AT HOME
CARTER HAS APPEARED ON THE RACHAEL RAY SHOW
AND COVERED THE STYLE SECTION OF THE WASHINGTON POST.
HERE THE AUTHOR SHARES TIPS ON STYLING AND CARING FOR PLANTS:
“Use room temperature water, then discard any excess on the base tray. Soil that sits in water will cause the roots to rot.”
“If you’re looking to place a living plant in the middle of your table, go with something that works in the light that you have available in that area. Low-light options include golden pothos, ZZ plant, and ponytail palms. For tabletops, I tend to prefer bouquets.”
“A lot of people kill plants by over care. I stay on top of things, but I also just let what’s going to happen, happen.”
“Cacti are desert plants and should only be watered every 3 to 4 weeks, but make sure to give them lots of direct light.”