We are so pleased with how our balcony looks this summer and I'm part way through a blog post to tell you all about it. But I was shocked to see how much everything had thrived outside whilst we were away for Christmas in July events this week, and how badly all the indoor plants had fared! Apparently we are amongst the two thirds of Brits who go on holiday without taking measures to keep their plants healthy; as a result nearly half the UK returns to find houseplants are dead or dying. Oops!
Brits up and down the country may be counting down the days to their summer holidays, but for millions of houseplants in the UK our summer exodus means their days are numbered – as research by www.thejoyofplants.co.uk shows this is the most common time for our leafy companions' demise.
The study of 2,000 Brits revealed that, although the majority of us will remember to complete a tick-list of chores such as clearing out the fridge (57%) and even checking every socket in the house to make sure it’s switched off (65%), just a third take any measures to keep their plants in decent condition – and nearly a fifth (17%) admit to completely forgetting they even own plants at all.
It comes as no surprise that 43% of Brits will therefore return to find their houseplants looking parched, dusty and wilted. However the study also reveals how unconscious neglect quickly turns to outright wastefulness; with nearly half (45%) of plant owners admitting they would rather throw a plant out than take any measures to revive it. And it's a habit which is costing Britons £829million a year in discarded houseplants and means that the average lifespan of a British houseplant stands at just seven months (when it could stretch decades).
To help raise awareness of the issues around Brits’ foliage failures, and encourage more people to take the simple measures that could save countless leafy lives, www.thejoyofplants.co.uk has teamed up with TV presenter and gardening expert, Charlie Dimmock to launch the “Houseplant Hotel” – a babysitting service for plants whereby they’ll be collected from your home and pampered while you enjoy your summer escape. Running for a week from 4th July, it is part of a nationwide campaign to give those forgotten ferns and stranded spider plants another chance at life.
Charlie commented on the findings: “I am aware that some people find it hard to care for their plants, but I was surprised to hear that such a vast number of Brits give up on their plants so easily. It’s so simple to keep your plants healthy, even while you’re on holiday. As a plant-lover I can’t ever imagine chucking out a plant that still has the potential to bring so much character and life to your home. Hopefully the thought of a Houseplant Hotel will remind everyone out there to check on their plants before checking in to their holidays.”
Charlie also supplied her top tips for keeping houseplants healthy if you’re going away:
• First of all – it’s worth the effort! Most houseplants can survive being left for a couple of weeks with some preparation.
• Remember that generally plants will need more watering more during the spring and summer growing seasons than in the winter dormant seasons.
• Water all pots thoroughly just before you leave home.
• Leave plants that are housed in large pots in a shady room.
• Those in smaller pots, the very pot-bound and plants that enjoy humidity will do better in the bath, lined with an old towel soaked in water.
• If direct sunlight falls on your bath, shading the window will also help.
• Don’t leave plants standing in a sink or bath full of water – most houseplants are in fact killed by overwatering.
• If you do leave your plants in the bathroom, make sure you haven’t recently used harsh cleaning chemicals, as these can stop healthy plants from breathing.
• If you’re going to be away for longer than a week give a trusted relative or friend a key so that they can pop around and check on your plants: ask them to water them as required, allow some light in to the room and dust the leaves.
Any holiday-bound Brits based in the London area who are interested in bagging their potted plants a place at the Houseplant Hotel can apply via: www.facebook.com/thejoyofplants