Ticknall Garden Club was treated to a highly entertaining presentation at their June meeting. Doug Stewart travelled from Beverley in Yorkshire to convince us that keeping houseplants was a rewarding experience. He pointed out that it can evolve into a long-lasting love for gardening as happened in his own case.
He started by explaining how the propagation of plants has changed in recent years. Robotic planting, pricking out, handling and dispatch can produce up to 2 million plants a day for the market. Holland is the forerunner in automated “make-up” where plants are embellished with colour and glitter to attract further interest.
Keeping houseplants has become a popular trend in recent years and has captured the imagination of many young people. Plants are styled to match décor or displayed as works of art. A living wall of planting can be a room feature with only misting required. In a study on offices, indoor plants came second to natural light as a necessity. There are also countless instagram accounts dedicated to houseplants.
He picked out a few of his own favourite indoor plants out of the many hundreds that are available. Dieffenbachia or “dumb cane” has bold variegated leaves and needs good light and a monthly feed. Pteris or the “brake fern” has silver on its delicate leaves and prefers shade with humidity. On the other hand, Euphorbias are desert plants which must have bright light as does Crassula rupestris or “jade plant”.
His own particular interest were plants that rely on moisture and nutrients from the atmosphere to survive rather than roots in the soil; hence the “fresh air” of the title.
Tillandsia usneoides or “Spanish moss” hangs from trees in shade in the wild. Phalaenopsis or “moth orchid” is fairly easy to care for. It needs shade, regular feed and humidity by misting. Its roots thrive open to the air and must not be overwatered.
The carnivorous pitcher plants account for the nickname “monkey cups”.
“Hens and chickens” seem an apt name for little sempervivums which multiply prolifically and are so easy to look after.
Even those who admitted not being lovers of house plants could not help being won over by Doug Stewart’s humorous presentation and infectious enthusiasm. As he said you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy houseplants!