Why have we all turned to houseplants?

By Tamsin Westhorpe

In recent months, my passion for houseplants has been reignited.

After spending a year as a student studying them in the 1990’s and later working as an interior landscaper, they have played a large part in my horticultural journey. During lockdown they have become more of a priority for me and I’ve found myself searching Instagram for other houseplant fanatics.

During this search I came across the inspiring and knowledgeable Tony Le-Britton who shares his Cheltenham home with hundreds of plants. His Instagram feed @notanotherjungle caught my eye as he has a greenhouse in his spare room! I was keen to find out from him why so many of us have fallen in love with houseplants during the pandemic.

Tony has taken ‘gardening inside’ to another level and installed a greenhouse in his spare room.

A passion for plants

Tony’s passion for gardening comes from his grandparents. He spent many a happy hour on their allotment. He has always had a garden outside until the house he lives in now. ‘I couldn’t find a property I liked with a garden so I decided to take this one as the glass roof would allow me to create a garden inside. This is when my attention shifted to indoor plants,’ explains Tony.

Tony has taken ‘gardening inside’ to another level and installed a greenhouse in his spare room. ‘Although I’ve kept houseplants for many years; lately my interest in more rare houseplants has spiked. I’ve taken a particular interest in the genus Monstera and am planning to apply for National Collection status soon. I sacrificed my guest bedroom to put up a full-size aluminium greenhouse and it has revolutionised how I grow. I’m able to create a stable environment where the heat and lighting is fully automated and mimics these plants natural environment in South America.’

Having a home with plenty of natural light has allowed Tony to provide the ideal condition for many of his plants.

Social media spreads the passion

Tony only began his plant Instagram journey in January 2020 and started posting more frequently during lockdown. He quickly amassed 50,000 followers. ‘My aim was to create more of a community where I post pictures and updates of my plants but also give a lot of tips and advice to my followers. I have a fairly unique perspective since I actually use all the skills I learned for outdoor gardening, inside,’ explains Tony.

He is convinced that social media has played a huge part in the boom in houseplant popularity. ‘A few houseplants have turned into a sea of green in many homes and the thirst for knowledge is insatiable,’ he says. Tony is convinced that people form a much closer relationship with their indoor plants than those outside simply because they are spending more time with them and with us being at home so much over lockdown, we have become attached or even obsessed with our house guests.

The staging in the indoor greenhouse allows Tony to provide the perfect conditions for his beloved monsteras.

Wellbeing

Tony is quick to point out the benefits of plants to our mental health. He is convinced that caring for a pot of herbs on the kitchen windowsill can be just as healing as maintaining a large garden. He isn’t surprised that adding houseplants to our homes has provided so many of us with stress relief and comfort as they have allowed those without a garden to connect with nature.

I asked Tony if he could share one bit of advice suitable those new to growing houseplants. He quickly responded by saying that it is key to choose plants that suit the growing conditions you can provide in your home. ‘Don’t be tempted to buy a plant just because you like the look of it and then later discover that you don’t have enough light for it to be happy,’ he warms.

With his careful choice of pots and clever positioning of plants Tony’s home is a stunning contemporary jungle.

Tony’s passion for plants is slowly turning into a business. He has been developing a houseplant fertilizer as he has noticed a gap in the market. ‘I can’t wait for the product to be launched in March.’ He is convinced that the trend for houseplant will continue to grow and many more people will enjoy living in a jungle.

The benefits if growing houseplants

  1. 1. They help to create a relaxing setting that reduces stress.
  2. 2. Having plants to care for is motivating and confidence building.
  3. 3. Plants in the home improve the quality of the air.
  4. 4. Houseplants increase our attention span, strengthen pain tolerance and reduce blood pressure.

Tamsin Westhorpe

With over 25 years’ experience in the horticultural industry, Tamsin has plenty of practical, hands on advice to share. Her career has seen her edit The English Garden magazine for six years, write scripts for TV gardening, lecture at Kingston Maurward College in Dorset and care for parks and gardens. She is now a freelance writer and curator and gardener of Stockton Bury Gardens, Herefordshire (listed by The Times in the top 20 gardens to visit July 2017). Tamsin is also an RHS Chelsea Flower Show Judge, co-Chair of The Garden Media Guild and a prolific speaker at many high profile events. She has recently written her first book ‘Diary of a Modern Country Gardener’ published by Orphans Publishing and is the voice of the popular Candide Gardening podcast ‘Fresh from the pod’.

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