Tips and tricks for tending to your house plants
It began with the cacti and succulent boom of 2016/17, alongside other Insta-centric trends like millennial pink and rose gold, but it’s branched out into everything from palms and ferns to climbers and hangers. The insatiable appetite for greenery doesn’t seem to be waning, with Google searches for ‘indoor plants’ up over 75 per cent in the last five years.
There are a few explanations for ‘plant lady’ replacing the passé ‘cat lady’, from minimal access to gardens and the millennial penchant for mindful hobbies, to Insta-botanists like Ro Co and Noughticulture. “We’re engaging with house plants in a different way, as they ease a number of current issues”, says Alice Vincent, author of How to Grow Stuff and founder of Noughticulture, “from portability suiting ‘generation rent’ to the nature fix that helps counteract digital technology engagement.”
A 2016 National Garden survey observed of six million people who had taken up gardening that year, five million fitted neatly into the 1984-1996 birthday bracket, and the benefits are wide-ranging. In workspaces, they’ve been proven to reduce sick days, potentially due to producing immunity-boosting phytonides, increase productivity and minimise noise. They also purify the air, replacing breathed-out CO2 with oxygen, while removing harmful chemicals and damp. Within homes, they lower blood pressure and improve mood, even helping combat Seasonal Affective Disorder, so let Balance help your inner garden flourish.
Benefits: “One of our favourites for its speedy growing and extreme survival skills”, says Caro Langton, co-founder and creative director of Ro Co.
What to do: “Water generously, but only when the soil feels completely dry. Prune tips of long and spindly stems to encourage side shoots.”
Benefits: “Ivy is grown surprisingly successfully indoors and can be trained to either trail or climb, depending on your preferences,” Langton says.
What to do: “It requires bright, filtered light. Line its drainage tray with a handful of small stones to ensure it doesn’t sit in water.”
CAST IRON PLANT
Benefits “This plant is renowned for tolerating environments with minimal natural light,” explains Langton.
What to do “We recommend giving it indirect light for optimum vitality. Water the plant generously, but always let the soil dry out completely before watering again.”
Benefits: “Really tolerant and if you get sunburn, snap off a leaf and squeeze the soothing gel inside onto your skin,” Vincent says.
What to do: “Water when the leaves start to shrivel; a healthy aloe vera will have the fleshiness of a ripe grape. Good in bright spots, the leaves may turn brown with too much sunlight.”
Benefits: “The peace lily is known to cleanse indoor air of harmful toxins’, Langton says.
What to do: “It prefers a bit of shade, so choose a spot near a north or west-facing window and keep its soil damp. Don’t worry if it dries and droops as a little water will soon perk it up, but cold draughts could kill it.”
Benefits: Ideal for those who suffer from dry skin conditions, it’s an effective air purifier, improving humidity and ridding spaces of harmful toxins.
What to do: “They like bright, indirect sun, moist soil and plenty of humidity. Suckers for a brown crispy leaf if they don’t get enough moisture” says Vincent.
STRING OF HEARTS
Benefits: It’s a beautiful trailing vine, making it perfect for decorating shelves or window sills.
What to do: To avoid rotting, make sure the soil is dry between watering, especially in winter when it goes dormant. Keep it in a pot with good drainage, with one part sand to two parts soil.
Benefits: Cacti are notoriously hardy, so perfect for first-time plant parents.
What to do: The main thing to remember is don’t overwater them, as they’re far more likely to be killed by over than underwatering. Bear in mind they’re originally hot region and desert plants.
Benefits: The perfect choice for purifying the air, with minimal maintenance required.
What to do: Most commonly succulents die from overwatering so, to avoid them sitting in a pool of water, choose a pot with drainage holes or add a layer of stones to the bottom.
Benefits: They are reasonably sturdy and can grow big pretty fast, so ideal if you want something dramatic.
What to do: Be aware that they’ll need repotting fairly often, preferably into something with a drainage saucer, and watering a few times a month, when the top soil becomes dry.
Put simply, we cannot live without plants. And to this end, Plant Designs are here to make London’s workplaces green. Biophilia experts, they specialise in office plants, living walls, fresh flowers and exterior landscaping and bring nature to your workspace. To find out more, visit plantdesigns.co.uk