Suzy Succulent: the 2020 co-worker of choice

  • Stress-reducing, energising and pleasing to the eye – indoor plants provide a valuable service as more people work from home
  • 58% of indoor plant owners admit to talking to them, while 29% give them names

Ozzy the Orchid, Susan the Succulent and Fergus the Ficus are shaping up to be the ideal work companions as many Australians continue to work from home in light of the coronavirus social distancing measures.

Garden products retailer Richgro found that 71% of those who are now working from home have indoor plants near or on their workspace.

Of this group, nine out of ten people said they felt it was extremely or very important to have plants nearby when working from home. Many report that this is due to the much-documented mood-enhancing benefits of viewing plants (that is the plants are helping them to feel ‘calm’, ‘happy’ or ‘relaxed’ at what has been a stressful and uncertain time; and because these oxygen-producing co-workers help to improve air quality. 

And, while Zoom meetings may have hit an all-time high, it seems that face-to-face, or in this case, face-to-leaf, connections and conversations are still something that many people can’t do without as they tackle their daily to-do-list.

Around of third of those with indoor plants nearby have given them names – with many favouring alliteration – and three out of five people with indoor plants admitting that they talk to them on a regular or semi-regular basis.

For most (78%) these talks consist of gentle encouragements of growth, however, around one in 10 people confess to using their indoor plants as bouncing boards, asking them questions, as they would do a human colleague.Richgro’s national survey, which was undertaken by more than 500 people, also found that Australians have been embracing their gardens like never before, with 75% of respondents spending more time in their gardens and outdoor spaces during March and April 2020 than normal. Almost all participants (98%) agreed that spending time close to plants and nature improved their mood.

Indoor plant placement tips

  • Place plants in your line of sight, so that you get the full visual benefits from the burst of colour and injection of nature they can provide your work area
  • Forget the social distancing when it comes to plants. You’ll experience the best from their air purifying capabilities if they are situated within your breathing zone (considered to be within 2sqm of where you are).
  • Make sure they get adequate natural light each day – they’ll need this to thrive.

Did you know that around 60% of indoor plant owners
TALK to their plants and almost a third give them names?

Top tips for indoor plant health

Richgro ambassador and gardening expert Charlie Albone provides the following tips to help your indoor plants to thrive:

  • Use a good quality potting mix either as a base or as a top up – this is your plant’s whole world, make it count!
  • Expect some symptoms of shock, including dropped leaves, when you move them or bring them home from the nursery– give them time to adjust to new light and temperature levels. 
  • Think about climate – look around your room, at this time of year heating can really dry your plants out. Warning signs for this can be the leaves turning brown at the tips, leaf edges turning yellow or flowers shrivelling up early. nearby you’ll need to think about the affect that will have on your plants. If it’s a plant that loves humidity it might benefit from a stay in your bathroom over the cooler months, but you can also try grouping a few plants together with a small pot of water or placing plants on a try lined with pebbles and a bit of excess water.    
  • Water with care – not all houseplants will need watering at the same frequency. Use your finger to check the soil moisture – most do best if the soil is moist but not wet, others, like succulents and cacti prefer to dry out between watering.  Try to avoid establishing a ‘watering schedule’ or getting into the habit of emptying your water glass or bottle on them, as periods of floods and drought can cause stress on the plants root system. As a general guide, droopy leaves normally mean an indoor plant needs more water, leaves that turn yellow, brown or drop tend to signal over watering.
  • Feed them – potted plants need nutrients so consider using a slow-release fertiliser (once or twice a year) or a weak liquid feed (every 2-3 months). Replacing the potting mix can also help replenish their access to much-needed minerals such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.  
  • Keep them clean – your indoor plants can gather dust, and this stops them from being able to ‘breathe’ properly. Give them a wipe with a wet cloth every few months or whenever you notice any dust build up. Another option for hardier indoor varieties is to give them the occasional shower. 

Low maintenance indoor plant choices

“Snake plant” or “Mother-in-Law’s tongue” Photo Martin Olsson/Wikipedia.
  • Snake plant (Sansevieria) – these plants can be neglected for weeks at a time, they’ll survive low light levels and drought making them ideal for beginners and those with a tendency to forget to water their plants.
  • Rubber plant (Ficus elastica) – a spot that’s bright but out of direct sunlight is the perfect home for one of these. Keep the soil moist in summer, but it will probably only need watering once or twice a month in winter.
  • Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum)  these hardy-yet-beautiful plants, with their deep green foliage and long-lasting flowers, are recognised as one of the best natural indoor air purifiers. They’ll thrive in a bright, warm space, out of direct sunlight so long as they have good drainage.  
  • Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)– considered one of the easiest houseplants to grow and can be easily propagated so are ideal for newbies or those without a green thumb. 
  • Succulents – these come in a range of shapes and colours and choosing them can often be harder than caring for them. Just remember, they like desert-like conditions so make sure they have some sunshine and rather than watering them regularly wait until the soil is bone dry and then soak them (as the desert rain would do). 

About RichgroPassionate about helping Australian backyards thrive, Richgro is a family-owned Western Australia company that has been manufacturing premium garden products for more than 100 years.  Today its nationally-available range encompasses fertilisers, soil improvers, potting mixes, water savers, and plant protection products.