It's 10:29pm and I'm laying in bed scrolling mindlessly through my Instagram feed. Of course, its full of pictures of plants and flowers and gardens. Most of the plants are a form of variegated leaves, because everybody is obsessed with these at the moment. I'll always find 1 or 2 plants I've never even heard of, but that's no surprise. The plant kingdom is overwhelmingly enormous. I rarely use my personal account anymore and I often feel guilty that I am ignoring posts from friends and family for an array of foliage, but with social media playing such a vital role for businesses these days, I have little time to manage more than one account. It's time consuming but also very useful for gaining insight into what's trending and also a fantastic tool to engage with my audience.
However as much as I am grateful for social media as a tool to engage and stay up to date, it does worry me to think how many plants have died at the hands of a pretty Instagram feed. Poor little babies. Their plant parent had given them high hopes of becoming the next reality plant star, only to have them wither and die within a few weeks. Probably by drowning, dehydration, starvation or perhaps a combination of all three. Or maybe it was the cats teeth... Ah the horror of it all!
You see the very essence of social media is to depict an object or person and portray in the best possible way, and plantgrams are no exception. More often then not, an indoor plant is snapped in a living room or bathroom where it appears to be thriving. Its a lush specimen, looking like its been growing in that space for its entire life. The room is brightly lit with white walls and light reflections strong enough to start a small fire. Its the best possible environment a houseplant can ask for!
Except its not. You see, the reality is that plant was only placed in that room 5 mins before the photo shoot. It looks lush because it was either just purchased from the nursery or the camera angle is making it look bigger than it actually is. That big bright room is just a studio with clever lighting and furniture placement. Deep down we know this, but it just looks so darn cute that we must have it immediately!
So we race out to begin our search, scouring every nursery and online store for the exact one. While searching for it, we purchase other plants without much thought, as a way to fill the green foliage void we now feel we have. Before you know it, we're snapping pics of our own pretty plant collection so that we too can share with the world.
And then they die.
I've been there before and can say I am just as guilty as everyone else for killing a few houseplants when I was an inexperienced and naive gardener. Truth is though, most of us don't have the right environment to look after a lot of the plants we see on social media. Every plant needs the right balance between light, water, humidity and temperature to get off on the best start in your home.
How many of us can say that they live in a house or an apartment with great natural light throughout? When's the last time you checked your indoor humidity levels? And how much are you contributing to fluctuating temperatures with heaters and air conditioners? What exactly is a well drained potting mix and how much water is too much? I'm 34 and have lived in over 15 places in my life and I can count only 2 that had the perfect lighting to grow most indoor plants. Sadly, these ideal home were some of the first places I lived in when I was young, and at the time I didn't have enough money so I never managed to achieve that highly desirable lush look.
Some plants are super fussy with their needs, while others are much more easy going. The good news however, is that every home can house a plant and there are ways to achieve that super green and tropical look you desire. Its all about connecting the right plant in the right space and not getting carried away with what you see on your tiny screens. Put your home into perspective to those that are portrayed through social media and make sure you know the individual requirements of each plant before rushing out and buying a new one. Ask a professional nursery assistant for help, or better yet, have a consultant come around to your home and assess your environment first. Once you know exactly what you are dealing with at home, then selecting the right plants will be a lot easier, with fewer casualties.
With that all being said, I still do want to take a moment to thank Instagram. For if it weren't for the craze that has swept across our devices over the past 5 years, its possible many houseplants may have become extinct, or simply drifted into a forgotten memory that could only be found in botanic gardens across the world and of course, grandma's place.
So raise your hashtag, double tap your screen and salute the almighty picture snapping app. Just don't forget to water your plants.