Words by Laura Bayliss
We’re all working from home/living at work a lot more, which means sharing our space with our green-leaved colleagues. Next time you make an office brew, catch up on the gossip while you do some quick five-minute plant care.
Dust yourself down
A layer of dust doesn’t look good on anyone. If your plants’ leaves are coated in dust then they won’t be able to perform their key role of photosynthesis. Help them to breathe more easily by carefully wiping down their leaves with a damp cloth. If they’re really dusty, then you could use a little bit of soap in the mix too. If you have succulents that need a clean, use a toothbrush.
Check for nibbled bits, sick-looking leaves and any stickiness, all of which are likely to indicate some unwelcome guests. Turn each leaf over and have a look for any creepy-crawlies. If the leaf is badly damaged, best just to nip it off. What to do next depends on what kind of pest has taken up home in your plants – identify the culprits and take appropriate action. In the meantime, quarantine them away from other healthy plants. Generally, treatment involves washing them down with soapy water (the shower is a good place for this) and brushing off as many of the blighters as you can. Then keep an eye on them and re-treat until they’ve all gone.
Take them for a spin
If your plants sit in the same position all year round they’ll grow lopsided, stretching out towards the light. Turn them round regularly to encourage even growth.
The odd yellow or brown leaf isn’t usually cause for concern. Often the lower leaves will turn yellow and drop off as the plant grows. Check you haven’t overwatered your plant (a common cause of yellowing leaves), but otherwise, just trim them off and give your plants a spruce. If your plant has a broken stem, snip it off near the base with some clean sharp scissors so that the plant’s energy can go into the healthy parts and to avoid infection.
How often you water your plants will depend on what type of plant they are and what the weather is like. Succulents will need watering only every couple of weeks (or less) during winter, whereas your thirsty tomato plant may need a daily drink in summer when it’s hot hot hot. Get to know your plants’ individual needs and water them according to their preferences. Check their soil and see if it’s dry. It’s a good idea to water them in the morning so that they don’t sit in a wet pot all night. In the growing season, they’ll also appreciate a feed every week or so. And if your plant hails from the rainforest, they’ll love a spritz with a water spray to keep up that humidity.
Have a chat
There’s lots of evidence that plants enjoy listening in – some studies show they grow better listing to classical music than rock – personal choice. And it’s also thought they may like listening to us talk. So next time you’re missing the daily water cooler catch up, have a natter to your plant pals.
Get a new buddy
There’s no harm in looking for a new member of the team! Give your current plant gang an appraisal and think about what might add to their vibe.