First Garden: Houseplants bring the outside in

Hazel lives in a new build half an hour from Edinburgh. The promise of a garden tempted her from the city, only she's never had a garden before and isn’t sure where to start. She does have a book called ‘Garden plants of Scotland’, a kitchen spoon and a pair of rubber gloves though. In the First Garden blog we’ll follow Hazel as she attempts to grow her first garden with the help of the team at Pentland Plants...

View all of hazel's First Garden blog posts here: 
Grow your own kitchen garden
https://www.pentlandplantsgardencentre.co.uk/blog/just-nipping-out-to-the-garden-for-some-salad.html

Weed and pest control
https://www.pentlandplantsgardencentre.co.uk/blog/weed-pest-control.html

Welcoming in the wild
https://www.pentlandplantsgardencentre.co.uk/blog/welcoming-in-the-wild.html

 

Bring the outside in

‘Calatheas comes from the deep rainforests of the Amazon in South America. These plants retain their natural jungle rhythm, so even in your home or office, the leaves will open in response to the light. That’s why the Calathea is known as the living plant,’ reads the description on the label poking out of the pot.

I have a reputation when it comes to houseplants. I told my sister I was going to write about them and she laughed and offered to send me a photo of the stunningly healthy Peace Lily she rescued from my flat six years ago. It was, she reminded me, suffering in my care. She’s the head nurse in a heart intensive care ward so it makes sense she brought it back to life. So when I swept the Calathea’s dappled leaves into my trolley at Pentland Plants I put a copy of How Not to Kill Your Houseplant by Veronica Peerless beside it, just in case.

 

 

Pentland Plants have just begun to re-stock houseplants due to popular demand and the increasing trend for their visual and wellbeing benefits, so the boys and I went for a look at the weekend. The plants in the garden will soon shed their leaves or sneak under the soil to hide from the Scottish winter and the torrential rain drumming on the roof of the garden centre was a timely reminder of what lies ahead. Our new houseplants will bring a little of the outside in until we open the garden door again to spring.

The boys chose tiny succulents tucked into silver buckets with carrying handles perfect for little hands, my husband picked a stripy aloe and then they all went off to the café for cake. They were so happy in the playarea I had a whole hour to look at care labels and imagine where each plant could live. Three little ferns, a snake plant, an orchid and some larger succulents later we went home.

I put all the plants on the kitchen table for a few days while I thought about where to put them. I didn’t expect them to slowly disappear. So far the kids have claimed all the succulents, the fern and the orchid to make a dinosaur jungle populated by Lego people in their bedroom. They reluctantly brought them back so I could take a picture, I think the solution is just going to have to be more plants.

 

 

We’ve always had supermarket herbs and cut flowers in the kitchen/family room but the houseplants have added a new dimension. It was so relaxing choosing where to put them and the Calathea’s leaves really do snuggle closer together in the evening.

There are endless stories about the health benefits of living with plants but I have a science background so went in search of evidence. I found it, there are peer-reviewed research reports that suggest surrounding yourself with houseplants does have a relaxing effect on your body chemistry. Taking the time to care for plants by watering, repotting and the age-old talking to them helps too.

Of course, if you welcome a mini-ecosystem that is a plant in its pot into your home you are creating a new landing place for smaller creatures too, like flies, spiders or mites. That’s where the book will come in handy; it has pictures of ailments and how to treat them so you can keep your plants at their best.

There’s a new delivery of houseplants at Pentland Plants and I’ve had a sneaky peak at the list. Airplants, succulents, ferns, fly-catchers, plants that will be happy stretching up from the floor or tumbling down from the top of a shelf. I think I’ll be going back for another explore.

 

How to keep your house plants happy

Potting

Always make sure your plant has a pot with drainage holes at the bottom so water doesn’t gather and rot the roots. The plastic pot you buy it in is ideal to sit inside a more decorative container. If you don’t have a spare container, make one. Scrub the label off a tin can and pop your succulent inside, if it’s too deep put some pebbles underneath to hold it up. Anything that is waterproof will do. I asked the kids to help choose somethings to use as pots and our plans for the weekend now include spray painting an empty fish food tub bright yellow – the goldfish had a feast finishing it off.

 Watering

Look at the label, does your plant prefer to be watered from above or below? Orchids like to be dunked for ten minutes and then lifted out to drip dry.

Succulents and cacti don’t need a lot of water so don’t be tempted to over water them, they love to be left alone.

If you have given your plant too much to drink, lift it out of its container and wrap the soil in kitchen roll or an old cloth to soak the water away.

Feeding

Plants will benefit from nourishment. Adding a fertiliser like Baby Bio to water will help your plant stay healthy. Pentland have everything you’ll need to keep your houseplants healthy including houseplant compost, cactus compost, and a variety of drip feeders.

Leaf care

Leaves do gather dust so it’s worth wiping them clean with a cloth every now and then so they are free to soak up energy from the light.

Dead head flowers and snip away dead leaves so they don’t rot on the plant.

Check your plant for mini-beasts and mould.

Potting on

If you take care of your plants they will thrive, eventually this means they’ll need a bigger pot. A good time of year to re-pot is in the spring.

Put fresh compost in first, turn your old pot upside down and gently tug the plant out, pop in the new pot, surround with fresh soil and water.

If the plant is too heavy to repot you can put fresh soil at the top to refresh the nutrients.

 

Click here to read more about the lovely range of houseplants in stock at Pentland Plants: https://www.pentlandplantsgardencentre.co.uk/blog/new-house-plants.html

 

 

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Pentland Mains
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