One of my favourite things to give as a gift has got to be a plant. Most people like them; they’re usually a decent gift for that person who already has everything, they’re good for your health and wellbeing (more on that below) and they (generally) tend to have a shelf life longer than cut flowers (which also happens to be my personal excuse to my hubby for buying so many, “But plants last longer than flowers!”) Now, I’m thinking that the next kind of gift I’m going to be giving people will be things that help us look AFTER our plants. More on that in a moment (and a giveaway with The Plant Runner at the end!)
A lot of us are a little bit in love with house plants these days. There are more than 2.5 million photos with the hashtag #plantlove and 4.8 million with the hashtag #indoorplants on Instagram. Our love of indoor plants isn’t going anywhere; in fact, I think it’s growing. The other day I had a bit of a laugh with my friend who recently renovated her old laundry. It looks awesome now, with paneled walls, a timber benchtop and a couple of open shelves above the sink. She was telling me how her hubby (never much of an indoor plant person) said to her, “Are you going to planning to put a plant in the laundry?”
“Well yes,” she replied. “Probably a couple. I was thinking maybe one hanging and one on the shelf. Why?”
“Will the one on the shelf be like, you know, coming down?”
“A trailing plant? Yes. That’s what I was thinking.”
“Oh. Cool. Yeah, I just thought that would look good.”
He has been converted to the Plant Side. And isn’t it a wonderful, leafy place to be.
As well as looking nice, plants in the home and workplace are also good for your wellbeing. They really can make people happier and improve your work output and efficiency. A 2014 study by the University of Technology Sydney found that when in the presence of indoor plants, study participants demonstrated increased productivity, better and longer focus, decreased symptoms of headaches and sore eyes, improved performance in creative tasks and they also showed faster speeds when completing computer tasks. They also found that workers with plants placed in their workspaces reported a 30 to 60 reduction in personal stress levels over a period of three months.
To me, the cool thing about this study was that the researchers found out participants didn’t even need to be properly AWARE of the plants around them to get the wellbeing benefits – just subconsciously seeing brief glimpses of living greenery in their environment, like on their desk, or in the periphery of their office spaces, provided them with unconscious feelings of calm and being in a wider space and their ability to focus increased – even if they didn’t actually notice the plant’s presence. (This would encompass people like Mr Nerd, by the way. I will walk into a room and think, “Oooh that’s a pretty variegated ficus,” he will walk into a room and after be hard-pressed to tell you if there was any greenery in there at all).
Now that I think I can safely say that it seems like most homes have at LEAST a plant or two around the home, it’s time for the slightly harder bit – keeping our plant friends happy. The people I’m going to introduce to you today are EXPERTS in keeping indoor plants happy – so much so that they’ve made it their mission and their jobs. Horticulturalists Dominic Hooghuis and Duncan Hilder own The Plant Runner, which is both an amazing online store and resource that provides plant care tips, tricks and tools, as well as the name of their vintage truck, designed to be a walk-in, transportable greenhouse and nursery.
The boys came across an old 1968 International Harvester truck, once used as a horse float for a pony club, and realised it would make the ideal venue for a mobile nursery and plant care shop. So they stripped it down, sanded it and painted it in what would become their distinctive signature bottle green. Since then, the Plant Runner Truck has become a fixture that delights many to see it pop up at Melbourne locations and events, where Duncan and Dominic offer for sale plants, tools, premium potting mixes, and of course, loads of their generous plant care advice.
These guys genuinely want to make plant care EASY for people – they aren’t snobby in the slightest, and endeavor to share their plant care knowledge in a way that makes it easy for most people to understand and digest (and as someone who can’t remember Latin plant names to save her life, I appreciate this. Their plant care blog is a wealth of tips).
They are also big believers that plant care products needn’t be ugly (I’m looking at you, cheap plastic watering can) and to this end, all of their range of products are just very nice to look at and use, from their hanging planters to their stunning Japanese plant shears and secateurs down to the very artistically designed labelling on their potting mix. So even if you live in a smaller place or where every inch of storage space is precious, their stuff will still look nice if you’ve left it lying about! I currently have a little bottle of their Indoor Plant Food liquid fertiliser sitting on our kitchen windowsill by my plants – it’s actually such a pretty bottle that I like it having out on display. And while they are based in Melbourne, the Plant Runner team ship the majority of their products Australia-wide (with some biosecurity restrictions on certain things like potting mixes).
Although their products look super-pretty, it’s not the best thing about them – it’s that they are actually really great products. They kindly gifted me a few things to try out, and I have been spraying my rubber plant and fiddle leaf figs with their Neem Oil since – it makes them look like they gleam with good health. I know you are meant to wipe down your plants leaves or hose them off regularly to prevent dust build-up (which is not good for them), but it’s a boring job – spraying them with neem oil makes it a more enjoyable task.
I’ve also been using their Indoor Plant Food – just one squirt in a watering can and it gives your indoor plants the nutrients they need. It makes me feel like such a diligent plant owner, importantly dripping this stuff into my little watering can, like I’m a really good plant owner, not one that has a withered maidenhair fern moaning from the bathroom. It is so concentrated that one small bottle of this stuff will last you for AGES! Unless maybe you have 480 house plants. (I’m probably not too far off that to be honest).
Unsurprisingly, given their backgrounds, the guys are big proponents of having plants about in the home and office. Duncan says numerous studies done on the effect of plants in the workplace, like the UTS one, have shown to increase productivity as well showing indicators that point to decreased depression, fatigue and anxiety.
Today they’re sharing five fantastic indoor plants if you’re keen to introduce a few green friends into your office or workspace. “Just make sure you pick a few that’ll survive,” says Duncan. “They’ll have the office over-waterer to contend with, as well as a range of different light scenarios.”
5 Great Plants You Need for Your Office or Workspace
1. Snake Plant
Duncan lists one of my personal favourite indoor plants, the Snake Plant, as one of the best for the office for a reason – they thrive on being practically abandoned. “They are our number one for air-purifying, productivity-increasing planty goodness,” says Duncan. “Coupled with a wonderful resilience to underwatering, and that there are so many varieties within the Sanseveria family (so you’re almost guaranteed to find one that suits you), the Snake Plant is a must for any office space.” (I think I water my own snake plant once a month, if that – and it’s about eight years old!)
2. Peace Lily
With its lovely shiny, bottle green leaves, the lush-looking peace lily is one of the most forgiving indoor plants around. “They will droop significantly if watering is forgotten, but will perk right up again with a good drink,” says Duncan. (Ah, there is my own peace lily raising a leaf for attention to attest to this form of neglect personally – there have been a few times I’ve gasped in horror to realise his leaves are literally drooping sadly over the edges of the pot (I know, I know) only to pep right back up with a hasty and probably overzealous drink (magic). “This is a great plant if you want to put something between you and chatty Ted on the desk opposite you,” says Duncan. They also have a peace lily plant care guide.
3. Cast Iron Plant
“The name says it all really,” says Duncan. “The Cast Iron Plant is damn near indestructible.” This is the plant for you if your previous plant friends have withered away because you lean towards absent-minded neglect. They can tolerate low water, low light and low maintenance, and they’ll still look great. “It’s the perfect gift for the co-worker that keeps bringing in fake plants to work,” says Duncan.
4. Devil’s Ivy
Super-hardy, very forgiving, and with beautiful tendrils that can be grown long and trailing, devil’s ivy is a bit of a wonder plant. “If you haven’t realised already, Devil’s Ivy works just about anywhere,” says Duncan. “The office is no exception.” These guys can withstand low light and cope with occasional neglect, and are ideal on shelves or on top of a desk. They will do well in bright office spaces as long as their foliage doesn’t receive direct sunlight. (I have no less than five of these in our house).
5. Lucky bamboo
I remember thinking it was so cute when I bought this house to discover that at some point someone had planted a lucky bamboo arrangement in the front garden. What I learned from Duncan is that lucky bamboo is not actually bamboo (it’s actually dracaena sanderiana). Duncan says this low-maintenance plant will tolerate low light conditions and is slow growing – ideal for a desk.
WIN WITH THE PLANT RUNNER!
The Plant Runner guys are kindly giving one lucky plant nerd an amazing plant prize! You will score a Complete Plant Care Pack (which includes Neem Oil, their famous indoor Plant Food and the winner’s choice of premium potting mix* (RRP $40) as well as the most beautiful pair of Hidehisa Rose Gold Plant Shears (RRP $99) (they are made in Japan and absolutely amazing for your plant propagating needs) and a super cute Navy Flora Watering Can (RRP $40). I have one and they are lovely to use! And the Neem Oil is AMAZING for giving your plants super shiny, healthy leaves… and the Indoor Plant Food is the best…. I could go on. If you’re a plant lover it’s a prize you (and your plant friends) will want to win.
All you have to do to enter is be following The Plant Runner on Instagram @plantrunnertruck and tag a friend on my giveaway post on Instagram. One friend, one additional entry, two friends, two extra entries and so on!
Not on Instagram? You can leave a comment on this blog post to enter (make sure you leave your full name and email address – your email address won’t be shared or published).
Competition drawn 8pm Wednesday 21st April.
Open to Australian entrants only.
Competition not endorsed by Instagram.
*For biosecurity reasons, if the winner is located in WA, Tasmania or NT they will receive an alternative prize to potting mix.
Good luck! Maya x