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After a short hiatus, largely brought about due to the manic nature of our recent shop move, we thought that it was about time we get back on with the journal posts. This time around, we wanted to tackle the issue of imperfect plants, when to panic and when to simply take a breath!
Take a breath
This weekend, we took a long overdue trip to the Eden Project in Cornwall. If you’re a plant fanatic like us, and you haven’t yet been, stop what you’re doing right now and make the trip, we promise you, it’s worth it.
The day was spent basking in the overwhelming beauty of the biomes, which have been so carefully designed, that they immediately transport you from a disused quarry outside St Austell, to the leafy rainforests of South America. We had hours of fun ‘nerding out’ over the stunning specimens that can be found growing under the enormous domes; every step was accompanied by a gasp from one of us…. ‘look; they’ve got a verrucosum just growing up that tree!’, ‘look at the size of that Ficus lyrata’ and ‘have you ever seen a more stunning Tradescantia zebrina specimen!?!’
However, for us, there was a much more important takeaway from the trip. Whilst the design of the biomes ensures that every step and every angle simply demands a photograph, these are not overly manicured display gardens. They are a celebration of plants in their natural habitat, warts and all.
One of the largest Devil’s Ivy leaves we have ever come across, was growing on an enormous vine that had become twisted and leggy. There were brown edges to the leaves and some had turned yellow. But that didn’t matter; it did not detract from how impressive the plant was, if anything, it only added to the beauty.
It got us thinking about all of the times that we have had panicked visits or messages from our customers, worrying over a brown leaf, concerned that their plant has a virus or that they are doing something terribly wrong. It is of course really important to pay attention to your plants, to be lead by their behaviour and adapt your care regime when necessary. However, we think it’s also really important to recognise and celebrate that plants are not perfect. Like all of us, it’s the imperfections that make them unique.
So, we wanted to share our number one care tip; our own personal mantra when it comes to caring for houseplants. Before you do anything else, just take a breath.
A lot of studies have shown that surrounding yourself with plants is only a good thing. They have tangible effects on your mental wellbeing; they help to reduce stress levels and blood pressure. So don’t let the responsibility of being a plant parent become a problem!
When should I worry?
Firstly, if you’re not sure whether there’s a problem with your plant, then reach out and ask someone for advice. We’re always on hand and ready to help troubleshoot and problem solve.
Whilst the care for houseplants can vary hugely, as a general principle, if your plant is producing healthy new growth and has healthy looking foliage, then there’s probably nothing to worry too much about. If the odd leaf is yellowing or browning, have a look at the positioning of the plant and have a think about your care regime. Could it do with a bit of misting? Might you be overwatering it or leaving it to sit in water? Is it possible that it’s simply older leaves that are being outcompeted by new growth? Maybe it’s time to cut it back a little?
Typically, if there is a problem with the roots of your plant (such as root rot) or something more sinister like a virus or pest, the problem will show itself more aggressively across the whole plant. New growth may emerge blackened or yellow. All, or a majority, of the leaves may have signs of damage, yellowing or browning. At this point, it’s worth taking a closer look - can you see signs of pests on the leaves or stems? Is it possible to take the plant out of it’s pot and have a peek at the roots, do they look healthy or is there any sign of rot (usually this will be evident through blackened mushy roots)?
If it isn’t a problem that is endemic to the entire plant and you’re satisfied with you care regime and plant positioning, then sit back, relax and celebrate those wonky leaves with the odd brown edges! Those are the bits that make the plant uniquely yours, and in our opinion, they’re the best bits, the bits that you can’t pop on instagram!