Why you need more plants in your home!
I am not a natural plant mother. I’m not really sure why! Maybe it’s because we didn’t have many plants in my home growing up (I think my mum thought they would attract loads of bugs). It’s taken me a while to get on board with this growing trend and I’m starting to really enjoy choosing where I might place plants in my home as well as choosing interesting pots to buy. I’m also discovering there are many benefits to having them dotted around and bring well-being in surprising ways.
Biophillia which is definitely one of the hot buzz word in the Interiors industry is all about having natural materials around our homes but not just plants, also wood and other materials like linen or sheepkin rugs. It’s been scientifically proven that these elements lower our heart rate and make us feel calm. Green is also becoming such a popular paint colour (Dulux’s new colour of the year is a very pale mint green called Tranquil Dawn) in our homes for its calming properties alongside using tropical print fabric and wallpaper which achieves the same feeling. You don’t have to look too far on Instagram to see all the interiors bloggers and creative home-makers using them in their room schemes. However, I believe that the plant ‘trend’ is one that has always at the forefront of the human psyche. We are designed to be connected to nature (with our ancestors living there for thousands of years and yes some of that DNA is still in our cells) and experiencing the great outdoors brings so much well-being (which we’ll get into later). Think of the Japanese activity of forest-bathing and from our own experience how good we feel after a country walk. Now that more of us live in urban landscapes, disconnected from green and living things, maybe our souls are instinctively crying out for this connection…
Since running my workshop at Forest (in the depths of Deptford where I lived 14 years ago when I first moved to London), I’m a lot more aware of the power of plants and the science behind it. At my workshop earlier in the year, Fran Bailey, the founder and owner of Forest shared some knowledge about how plants promote well-being and it stayed with me. I bought plants at Sainburies on my weekly shop and then my dear husband bought me some gorgeous specimens earlier this month for my birthday so slowly, bit by bit I’m curating their positions around my home
Fran recently released a book called The Healing Power of Plants which she very generously gifted to me. It builds on what she shared in my workshop and as well as giving context to why we should have plants and which ones to choose for various environments, it also works like a guidebook with care instruction for popular houseplants. The book is nicely divided into sections too for creating different atmospheres and which plants will aid creativity or bring focus or others that will make us feel calm or help us get well soon. It’s super easy to follow and really informative and I’m definitely starting to learn the common names for all my favourite plants!
9 reasons why I love plants in my home
So combining Fran’s lifelong knowledge along with my own personal experience of various plants around my home, here are the benefits of having greenery dotted around your home:
They produce oxygen which is literally what we need to live. With the climate crisis we are facing at the minute this is at the forefront of our minds so plants in our home can be a gentle reminder about what really matters. They will literally help us to breathe and it turn that will help us feel more well as our physical and mental health are intrinsically linked.
On a more aesthetic level they add colour to a room. There are so many shades of green (and pink and purple!) and they can add a gorgeous pop of colour to any shelf or a dark corner.
The layering that plants add to our homes gives a calm, welcoming feel and softens the space where there might be lots of hard surfaces such a kitchens or bathrooms or even rooms with wooden floors rather than carpet. This is the interior designers secret weapon to create spaces that feel relaxed and lived in. Without texture a space can feel unfinished.
On a slightly more geeky level they have acoustic deadening properties for say a music studio or cinema room. How do I know this? Because my beloved husband is an audiophile and is very sensitive to sound quality so we are constantly discovering new ways to increase the sound quality in our rooms. Organic material is apparently the optimal sound absorber and can minimise echoes in rooms such as bathrooms or kitchens which don’t have much fabric material to deaden the echoes.
Probably my favourite benefit of plants is that the actual act of looking after these leafy friends is good for your mind and spirit. Since having them instead of feeling irritated that it is another living thing I have to keep alive (after my children!) I actually welcome the mindful time spent watering them which helps me feel calm and patient. Also the joy of seeing them grow and being able to care for them is really rewarding.
I’ve found that rooms painted green or plants close to a window have a beautiful way of connecting the indoor space to the outdoor space when there is some greenery just beyond the window, whether shrubs, trees or grass. This brings unexpected joy and helps you feel more connect to the greatness of nature ‘out there’.
Choosing specific plants that resonate with you can conjure up happy memories which again is great for wellbeing. For me I love a nice sprawling fern as they remind me of my son Jack who likes to remind us on walks in ancient woods that ferns were around at the same time as the dinosaurs. Such a lovely thought that these plants have around for millions of years! Likewise I love cactus plants as they remind me of a 3000 mile road trip we took across America and the completely awesome feeling being surrounded by dessert on the open road. More exotic, tropical palm plants remind of holidays abroad which again release a smile on my face as I remember past adventures. Telling these personal narratives in our homes is such an important element to my interior design practice because it is so powerful for the individual.
8. I really believe that we are wired to appreciate and enjoy nature as it reminds us that there a great connection between us all and that it is a gift for us to enjoy. If mindful we can really feel the power of this and it’s why I love to run in the park early morning and paint in beautiful natural locations.
9. The Healing Power of Plants goes into this in much more detail but plants detoxify the atmosphere and remove harmful substances from the air in our homes. So as the tagline of the book says - “If you look after your plants, they will take care of you!”
SOME practical tips and tricks
When choosing a pot the first thought should be is there enough drainage otherwise the roots will get mouldy when watered and the plant will die. A pot with a saucer/plate underneath is perfect or for a pot without holes then put the plastic container the plants usually comes with inside it. Alternatively if these don’t fit inside a pot then put stones or broken cups in the bottom to allow drainage but alter your watering accordingly.
With watering don’t over do it. I only water the plants if the soil feels dry on top. I think in the past my plants have been killed by over-watering rather than under-watering.
Now when I go on holiday I put all my plants in the bath so that you’re waterer/pet-feeder doesn’t miss one. I think there are loads of nifty tricks for making your own watering devices so head to Youtube and search for this if you fancy having a go.
When getting new plants it takes a while to acclimatise to it’s new home so take particular care of them at this stage and it’s normal for them to look a little droopy or dried out as they get used to the new environment.
For specific tips on your favourite plants and more brilliant advice get your hands on a copy of The Healing Power of Plants! It would make a gorgeous birthday present for someone too and look great on your #shelfie as well! One thing I’m particularly excited about (and something that would also connect to my daily creative practice) is that I’d love to grow my own plants from cuttings and gift them to my friends etc. How rewarding would that be and thankfully the book has 5 different ways that you can do this. Can’t wait to try it out!
I’m still sorting out my plants and pots and deciding where all the gorgeous little fellows are going to go but I promise to update you with another blog in a few months to let you know how it’s all going and share the plants in different corners of my home. By then I may have a few new plants and greenery to share especially after my workshop at Forest next week where I know I’ll be tempted to buy a few more!
If you fancy a whole evening quite literally surrounded by plants (Forest has an amazing atmosphere and is very cleverly designed) at my workshop next week then I’d love to have you there! You can get your early-bird ticket here. If you’ve been reading my blog then you know what to expect - an holistic approach to interior design using both your intuition and intellect with loads of fun exercises and advice for your own projects (and an awesome goody bag, bubbly and cake). Would love to see you there if you can make it!
Yours in colour and creativity,
Disclaimer: I was gifted this book but under no direction as to how review or blog about.