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Jen Stearns is a passionate plant guru and owner of Urban Sprouts in downtown Renton. Stearns is such expert when it comes to plant care, folks call her The Plant Doctor! At Urban Sprouts, they stock a wide array of beautiful plants, pots, dirt, fertilizer and fun plant accessories. Stearns also offers classes on creating plant decor and other crafts. She also is the author of the book The Inspired Houseplant. (Photo courtesy Sara Rautenberg @saramarkphoto)
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Renton's plant doctor is giving plants a new 'leaf' on life

Jen Stearns is the owner of Urban Sprouts in Renton. Blessed with a green thumb, many people call her The Plant Doctor.

We brought Stearns a challenge: a plant that was purchased a decade ago. Over the years, the poor plant had fallen into bad health. And while it wasn't dead, multiple amputations had left it badly maimed.

"This is a judgement free zone," said Stearns with a smile.

Where others would see a sad, withering plant, she saw potential. Or is it 'plant-tential'?

"This is a ZZ plant," said Stearns. "It is indeed a champion."

Her diagnosis was simple: a bigger pot, for more space. Apparently, one of the biggest issues for plants is that they basically just need more room. Total face plant. Stearns took is through the steps of how to save the ZZ.

"Put gravel in the bottom so we have a drainage layer."

Next up - removing the plant from its pot. The roots were all bundled together and in the middle - a gelatinous mass.

"That is rot," Stearns explained. "The plant was killing off parts of itself to save the other parts."

The stalk had the most rot - and just disintegrated entirely. Then, the beleaguered plant got a new home. She scooped in a some fresh dirt, re-potted the plant, added a little fertilizer, some water and this plant had a new 'leaf on life.'

Even as a kid, Stearns always had a budding interest in plants.

"I've always been in the dirt my whole life," she said. "My mom had a really beautiful flower garden/vegetable garden growing up. And she always made sure there was a a spot for me."

She earned a degree in environmental science from the University of Washington and learned about growing plants indoors.

"Plants are so therapeutic and they're so good for you," said Stearns. "That's kind of how it got started that I wanted to share what I learned with everybody."

She showed us a few of the trendiest plants in her shop, like Miramo - a fresh water spring algae, and Kokedama, a Japanese-style planter.

There are thousands of plants at Urban Sprouts - but there is one Stearns will not sell.

"This is our Thai Constellation Monsteras, it's a very popular plant right now, super easy to take care of and they're gorgeous," she said. "I was offered a thousand dollars for it the other day."

She is such an expert on plants that she literally wrote the book on them. It's called "The Inspired Houseplant."

"The book is really image-heavy," she said. "The first part is about trimming and planting and how to do pruning and just general care."

Next - getting crafty with plants.

"The middle section is all these projects," said Stearns. "There's terrarium building, and how to make a Kokedama and how to mount a fern."

And then - living with these leafy wonders.

"The last section is styling. We went around and found all these beautifully styled homes in all kinds of designs like boho and desert and modern and all these different styles that are really really well laid out with houseplants that's just supposed to be inspiration."

Stearns' passion for plants seems to grow with time.

"I just want people to love plants," she said with a grin.

Visit Urban Spouts in Renton for beautiful plants, accessories and expert advice. You can also follow them on Instagram, and purchase "The Inspired Houseplant" online or wherever books are sold.

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