As we're all at home more than previously planned right now – and to coincide with Earth Day – we speak to some experts about the unique benefits of adding some plants to your home, and how best to care for your greenery once it's with you.
'The healthy home is about natural materials, sustainability, clean air, all these things,' says Paul de Zwart, founder of furniture and homewares brand Another Country. His company is one of many who have signed up for the WELL Building Standard, which imparts a holistic view on how buildings can affect our health. That means assessing everything from the use of certain materials and overall access to natural light – as well as air quality and wellbeing. 'These things have very specific resonances,' explains de Zwart. And, while the initiative is aimed at the workplace, he adds, 'I also see it as a solution to our home life – we talk about all these things like the packaging for your pasta or the car you drive – if people start offering solutions… it's slowly but surely helping.'
One of the most simple solutions is introducing houseplants. Another Country's Ori collection, which was designed to incorporate the principles of the WELL Building Standard, made this a central theme. 'We designed planters that encouraged you to bring plants into your home or office,' explains de Zwart. The benefits of those plants, to both our health and sense of wellbeing, are clear. 'Plants have many amazing physical health benefits,' says Freddie Blackett, CEO of . 'They clean the air of impurities, they add more oxygen to the home – and some are even said to help you sleep better. In terms of mental wellbeing, there is nothing more rewarding than starting as a complete plant novice and managing to keep your plants alive and thriving for months and months to come.'
Blackett admits that he founded Patch Plants from the point of blissful ignorance. 'When I moved in with my girlfriend back in 2014, she had this unloved, empty balcony that I was determined to transform into an urban oasis,' he says. 'But I realised quite quickly that, firstly, I knew absolutely nothing about plants and gardening and, secondly, I was going to have to drive to the suburbs to find a half-decent garden centre. And then when I got there, I didn't know which plants I liked or which ones would work for my space.' After conversations with friends, he realised he wasn't the only one. Patch pitches itself at the novice grower, delivering plants to your door and helping you to look after them. They even have a section on their website listing 'unkillable' plants. Blackett says, 'Many of us have been guilty of plant murder in our time: the mix of shame, guilt and frustration at money down the drain is hard to get over.'
So – while we have the ear of the expert – what are the primary care tips for keeping your houseplants alive? Here are Blackett's top three tips:
1. Invest in high-quality plants
'There's a big difference between buying plants from a supermarket and buying from a reputable plant retailer. It costs a bit more, but they'll be far harder to kill.'
2. Do your research
A quick Google search can point you in the direction of the best plant for the best part of your house. Patch also recommends specific species based on light or temperature, and has a free online course should you wish to delve further. 'Choosing the best home for a plant within your space (i.e. a sunny vs shady spot) is half the battle of setting up the right environment for it to survive. Make sure to check the care instructions for your particular plant, as well, since they can vary greatly.'
3. Don't drown them!
'Many people are unaware that over-watering is often worse for plants than under-watering. We find novice plant-owners will reach for the watering can too soon when a plant's looking a bit worse for wear. The best way to find out if a plant needs water is to stick your finger in the soil two inches down and feel how dry it is.'
Still struggling to keep your new friends alive and thriving? Reach out for help from your luxury lifestyle manager. And Quintessentially Flowers is always around to deliver beautiful bouquets.