The Bristol Magazine December 2018

Page 94

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THAT SEVENTIES REVIVAL Filtering out pollutants and purifying the air, houseplants offer a chance to re-engage with nature, as well as an ever-growing community online, says Elly West


’m not always a huge fan of revivals as they make me feel old, but the boom in sales of houseplants is one that I’m thoroughly enjoying. Adding a plant to a room brings back the feelings I had as a teenager, instantly personalising my space and creating impact without spending a fortune. My teenage bedroom was filled with plants, and I still remember my parents’ despair when I brought home a two-foot umbrella plant on the foot-rest of my 50cc moped at the age of 16 (not something I would recommend!) This was the early ’90s so, thinking about it, I was either extremely ahead of my time or behind it – the 1970s being more typically associated with indoor greenery. Of course, we are talking about the days before social media. Today’s houseplants seem to be a lot more style conscious in their surroundings. Instagram and other social media sites have probably contributed to their comeback and are the prime place for people to show off their interior styling, as well as being a great source of ideas and inspiration. The trend started with succulents but it has grown and now seems to be all about grouping. Instagram hashtags such as #plantshelfie and #plantsmakepeoplehappy showcase great ways to display your plants together, and it’s hard not to smile at #allmyplantsononething. But for me, a houseplant makes a house a home. It’s a living thing to nurture and, unlike other indoor decor, it changes and grows (hopefully!) if it’s well looked after. There are also lots of health benefits associated with keeping plants in the home. As they photosynthesise they release oxygen, and many are said to have air purifying qualities as well, filtering out pollutants and suppressing mould spores and bacteria. When you’re choosing a plant, think about where in your home you want it to go. Ferns are more suited to shadier, humid spots, whereas cacti and succulents can cope with a sun-drenched window-sill. Also, consider how you are going 94 THE BRISTOL MAGAZINE




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to display your plants. Groups of threes or fives work well, and if you’re short of window-sill space, look out for decorative stands or hang your plants from hooks fixed to a beam in the ceiling. There’s also the opportunity to glam up your displays and accessorise with the right pot. Choose one that works with your existing décor and with the shapes and colours of your plants. Don’t be afraid to experiment – old wooden boxes and other reclaimed items make interesting containers – just make sure they are lined with something that won’t leak. The most asked question when it comes to houseplant care seems to be ‘how often should I water?’ While succulent plants such as aloe vera and cacti can cope for weeks, if not months, in dry soil, others will start to wilt. Keep an eye on your plants and if the compost feels dry, give them some water. You want your plants to have water available without saturating the soil and suffocating the roots. Overwatering is probably the most common cause of death for a houseplant. Line the bottom of the pot with stones before adding compost, and make sure it has holes in the base so excess water can run away. Most plants can get by with minimal attention, but if you really want them to thrive, give them a regular liquid feed. Follow the instructions on the label, but most houseplants won’t need feeding more than once every couple of months during the growing season. Wipe the leaves to keep them dust free and shiny, and to allow maximum light absorption. You’ll also want to pot them on into bigger containers as they grow, when the roots are starting to show through the holes at the base. You can buy special houseplant compost, but any multipurpose or loam-based compost will do. Hayley Wright, owner of The Mighty Quinns Flower Emporium ( is passionate about houseplants and extols their benefits in both

Above: Chlorophytum – the good old spider plant – is practically foolproof for novice indoor gardeners, surviving on very little maintenance

Opposite page: Ferns are suited to shady, humid spots, whereas cacti and succulents can cope with a sundrenched windowsill