Why do we find it so difficult to look after plants? We all know someone who has thriving indoor plants and make it look so easy – but what are they doing differently? I’m from the school of thought that plants aren’t just another form of decor, or part of the furniture. They are, in fact, a living breathing species that need special care, attention and a little bit of TLC here and there. On that note, here are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to keep your office pals alive.
Don’t acquire all your plants at once
Just like you wouldn’t buy a puppy, a siamese fighting fish, three chickens and set up a beehive in the same day, selecting, purchasing and bringing home one plant at a time means that you have the time and energy to give that plant the love and attention it needs. It will also mean that you’re more invested in getting to know its likes and dislikes by noticing how it reacts to its location, its watering schedule and the conditions of its new home. Imagine trying to notice the intricacies of your new beehive whilst your puppy is escaping out the front door, your siamese fighting fish has committed suicide on the floor and your chickens are all ripping up the garden – they wouldn’t last the week (and neither would you).
Get to know your new buddies
Start by researching some indoor plants that you like the look of and get a true appreciation for the particular species – what’s its origin? How does it live naturally? In the jungle with high humidity or in the desert with no water? This includes reading the care tag carefully. Do your best to give the plant exactly what it needs and educate yourself: the more you talk about your plants (or even to them) the more your thumb will grow greener.
Make your new friends comfortable
Let’s face it, nature isn’t simple. Imagine if us humans had plant tags; Human, Homo sapian. For a 70kg specimen give two litres of water per day, 1kg slow release food, keep out of hot summer sun and bring inside if frost or snow. Doesn’t really capture our complexities, does it?
Whilst your plant is adjusting to its new home, be observant and hone in on the details. Look at the new leaves unfolding, the tendrils grabbing and climbing, the flower unfolding and how it changes with more water, less water, more sun, less sun. Always ensure you trim off any dead leaves and take note. Was it too little or too much water? Sunburn? Or mites under the leaf? Have got a freaking clue? Hit up Google – you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn about your plants just by researching its name and symptoms.
Give them treats
Although your plants are living indoors, don’t forget that they are in fact creatures of the wild. Let them be a part of the natural rhythms of nature when you can: take them outside on a balcony for a shower when it’s raining. It’s a nice treat, just like taking your pooch to the beach. The rain will upset any pests that might be building up on the leaves and unlike your tap water, rainwater has nitrogen that helps to feed plants, especially those epiphytes which gain most of their water and nutrients from the air. In times of less rain, always keep a spray bottle of water handy so whenever you have two minutes to spare, you can give your friends a light misting.
Take them on a trip
It’s important to rotate your plants around the house. Not only will it keep your feng-shui fresh, but it will keep your new mates fresh. We just carried our 3-metre-tall Dragon Tree (draceana draco) inside to admire her for a couple of weeks, then we took her back out into the sun where she belongs. All of our indoor plants thrive in this spot – get to know some corners of your office that will help your plants thrive too.