Improve your Plant/Life Balance
The Nursery & Garden Industry Association of Australia held its first, highly successful ‘Improve Your Plant Life Balance’ day in March 2011.
While the IYPLB program will focus on different aspects of horticulture throughout the coming years, the initial campaign concentrated on encouraging office workers to ‘Put a Plant on Your Desk’.
In order to make plants relevant in the lives of the many Australians who engage with social networking sites, the NGIA set up a special Improve Your Plant/Life Balance site on Facebook. Since March an astonishing number of people – more than 16,000 – have joined up to this Facebook page.
Another wonderful result of this initial campaign is that people who would not normally give any thought to plants are beginning to appreciate the positives of having plants in their environment. And they’ll find the benefits are many.
Studies have found that plants improve our well being, especially when they are brought indoors. They ‘green the scenery’ by adding their beauty to interior settings. Potting mix and plants work together to remove toxins such as benzene and formaldehyde (called Volatile Organic Compounds) from the air. Plants have been found to improve health, which adds to society’s productivity.
Caring for indoor plants
Even if you’re a beginner, it’s not that difficult to grow happy indoor plants. Here are some guidelines:
- Choose your indoor plant with care. See which plants have worked for others in similar situations and find out what they are. Some of the most successful are madonna lilies (Spathiphyllum spp), kentia palms (Howea forsteriana), upright-growing sansevieria, and dramatic dracaenas and Yucca elephantipes. A relative newcomer on the scene is Zanzibar Gem (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), which looks a bit like a soft-leafed cycad and has underground water-storing tubers that help the plant survive dry periods.
- Place your plant in a spot that gets good light but is, preferably, out of direct sunlight. Generally the more light the better (remember plants don’t naturally grow indoors) especially for flowering plants. Some plants will grow in darker spots; spathiphyllum, the maddona lily, is one good example. Nonetheless, even though the madonna lily can cope with relatively low light, it won’t flower in a dull position.
- Water when the mix feels dry (but make sure the water can drain away) and reduce the frequency of watering in cooler weather. Yates Tuscan Edge pots have a self-watering well in their base that allows the roots to access moisture when it’s required. When it’s cold, it’s also a good idea when watering to add a tiny amount of hot water to de-chill the water and reduce root shock. Feed sparingly, using a slow release like Acticote or a liquid fish emulsion.
- Watch out for common pests like scale and mealybug. Visit the Problem Solver on the Yates website – www.yates.com.au – for low toxic solutions.
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