Super succulents: Columnist Deborah McMorran has been going potty over pot plants
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As we move into February, and Christmas seems far behind us, our minds very naturally turn towards the spring.
Although you may only just be starting to enjoy a show of snowdrops in your garden, the main change that I have been noticing lately is the increased light that we have with each passing day. It may only be a couple of minutes more each evening, but for anyone who enjoys being out of doors, and particularly those who spend time in their gardens – those extra few minutes are like a golden treasure.
It won’t be long before the garden is starting to show all of the delights which are currently hiding beneath the ground, but until they do, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy all of the delights of gardening, whilst in the warmth of your house, until the weather improves outside. House plants are making a massive comeback, and succulents in particular are so en-vogue that many florists and flower delivery companies are now offering potted succulents as an alternative to bunches of flowers for gifting.
I’ve always been totally potty over succulents myself, but I started to think about what it is that is making these plants so popular. I think with so many house plants, people are worried that they will be hard to look after – personally I have never had any luck with orchids. I love them – I absolutely love the look of them, and my mum has always had lots of them around the house. Whereas her plants seem to thrive, and have flowers on them throughout the year – mine will last a week, or two at the most. So, much as I love them, I have to only enjoy them when they are given to me as a gift – in which case I treat them like a bunch of flowers – and if they don’t last more than a week or two, I try not to get too disheartened.
At university, there seemed to be a bit of a phase to have money plants, or bonsai trees. Maybe just a ‘cool’ thing to have a plant in your room, but as it turned out I wasn’t so good at keeping my bonsai tree alive either – always overwatering it, or under watering it, and inevitably, it didn’t last long.
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We did always want to have greenery in the house though – I lived with five other girls, and there was rarely a time when one or other of us didn’t need to use the house vase... either that or jam jars, or milk bottles, or whatever else we could find to put flowers in.
I remember when we first looked around the house where we stayed for the rest of our university days – the house had terrible damp, it was too small, it didn’t have enough seats for all of us to sit down in the sitting room at any one time, but there was a vase of lillies in one of the rooms. When we got back to our halls of residence, having looked around what felt like hundreds of houses, we all said the same thing: “I really had a nice feeling about the lily house”. The only thing I can attribute this to is the fact that the flowers had an impact on us – they had cheered us up on the dark and wet evening when we’d looked around the house.
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Flowers have that effect – whether you realise or not, and whether or not you consider yourself to be a plant lover, they will subconsciously make you feel better. It’s not a coincidence that people send flowers when someone isn’t feeling well, or why hospital wards always seem to have flowers in them – there is something incredibly vital about looking at colourful flowers – they are a sign of life – and sign of hope.
Succulents seem to be a great choice when it comes to house plants. They need such a small amount of attention – I can hardly remember the last time that I watered the ones in my sitting room, and they are still happily brightening up the room. Their beautiful muted colours are calming. I can stare at the grey-green of their leaves for ages, and there’s something about it which is just so soothing. Some do flower, but it’s mainly for the lovely coloured rubbery leaves that most people like them.
They also seem to have gained popularity as an alternative to send to men – although of course I’ve never seen any reason why you can’t send flowers to a man, and it’s very often my husband who supplies the fresh flowers in our house – there is still a slight gender divide when it comes to gifting plants or flowers. I tend to buy shrubs, or trees for my dad on his birthday, whereas I always buy cut flowers if wanting to treat my mum. Succulents seem to be bridging this gap – a truly gender neutral gift – one that can be enjoyed by all!
If you want to know more about house plants, or want to start with something easy to care for without spending a fortune – most local supermarkets and garden centres will have a good selection, and anyone working in a garden centre or nursery should be able to advise you on which would best suit the light/temperature of your home.