Houseplants | A Q&A with the Plant Doctor
We’ve long been lovers of houseplants. Which is why, to celebrate the launch of our 2021 spring/summer collection, we teamed up with our friends at Patch Plants and ran a joint competition over on our Instagram page. We love what Patch Plants does so we jumped at the chance to get their resident Plant Doctor, Richard Cheshire, on the blog. Richard has so many interesting things to say about the magic of our leafy housemates. He gives us his plant prescriptions and shares his top three tips for decorating with houseplants. Grab a cuppa, settle into a cosy armchair, and enjoy reading about all things green.
What is a plant doctor and how did you become one?
My interest in houseplants and horticulture started when I used to help my family with their London gardens. As an adult, traveling and learning about the beautiful spectrum of plants out there, I realised that there was a big disconnect between many urban dwellers, like myself, and the powerful diversity within nature. A lot of people are getting into the houseplant movement now that we are spending more time at home and our focus on wellbeing is at an all time high.
When Patch Plants advertised a position for a Plant Doctor, I jumped at the chance. My main objective is to help as many people with their planty problems as possible. Whether someone is picking the right space for their first plant, or a green-fingered veteran is struggling with a root disease; I offer my advice to help them shortcut the conflicting information online. I also use my knowledge to make sure our carefully curated product range and care guidance is up to speed, so that it supports our customers and prevents some of the avoidable growing pains.
What you wish people knew about plants?
I wish more people knew about how beneficial plants are for us, more so than providing breathable air. They increase productivity and focus whilst calming us and even improve our physicality. Exercising or being active in green spaces increases our muscle mass, for example.
There is a plethora of research out there which has found a 60% improvement in mental health just by having a few plants in your working environment. When we look a little deeper we find that the colour green alone improves our mental focus due to its naturally soothing properties. Our connection with plant life runs very deep into our past as a species and if we pay a little more attention to how we care for it, then we, and the planet, will be much healthier for it.
What’s the most amazing plant you’ve ever learned about?
Most recently, I learned about a rare Moon flower, Selenicereus Witii, a climbing flowering plant that only blooms at night. The rare sighting was captured recently at the Cambridge Botanical gardens, where the short lived flower appeared for the first time in the UK and was visited by a pollinating moth. The elegant flower grows on hard surfaces like trees and almost looks like a cactus before displaying its blooms.
Which houseplant would you prescribe for people who need calming down/more mindfulness and why?
Schefflera on lava rock, an epiphytic plant by nature, can grow without soil. A fun plant to watch as the water level in the tray disappears over time. This plant will take a lot of water from the air so a regular misting will keep it very happy. This plant can also grow quite quickly in bright spaces, which is a rewarding plant to prune into the shape you desire. This can be a very meditative experience.
Which houseplant is best for wallflowers?
The Pilea is a humble hero with robust stems that keep on growing. These plants can practically propagate themselves as their leaves pop out before sprouting new roots, when planted in soil.
Which houseplant is best for extroverts?
Calatheas have vibrant, colourful moving foliage that lower their leaves during the day and rise again at night. These are really social plants that like to make their presence known.
Which houseplant is best for kids to look after?
Cacti are great plants for children because they require very little in the way of water and can randomly sprout flowers in warm and sunny spots. They are very tolerant and you won’t have to worry about any floppy or falling leaves.
And finally, Richard’s three top tips for decorating with houseplants:
1. Play with levels! Group plants together and use plant stands, shelves or bookcases to showcase them at different heights. This can make an area look really interesting and none of the plants get lost in the mix.
2. Use tall and structural plants to frame a space. Hardy houseplants will work really well next to a large window or door and draw the eye to the features.
3. It is always best to check if your home suits the environment that your plant needs, take a look at the different spaces in your home at morning, noon and in the evening to see how much light comes through. Placing your plants accordingly will help them grow better and a plant that is struggling can pull focus for all the wrong reasons.
Thank you so much to the Plant Doctor, Richard, at Patch Plants .