As many gardeners will confirm, there’s something really lovely about getting your hands dirty and stuck into soil.
There’s been a well-documented boom in indoor plants in the past few years. It’s usually chalked up to millennials often being stuck in temporary accommodation with no outside space, and so having to make do with indoor greenery.
But it’s also coincided with a greater awareness around mental health, and the benefits being connected to our environment.
Pottering about with and caring for plants is almost meditative. Research has shown that being in greener spaces, even indoors, improves mood and reduces stress. And if like me you’re currently working from home, a greener workspace improves productivity, attention span, and task speed.
It’s the best feeling when you get it just right, and your houseplants flourish. Just have a look at #newweeknewleaf on Instagram to see lots of plant parents proudly showing off their little one’s growth.
But it’s not always been that way for me. I too had nothing but the odd peace lily and a sad aloe vera for years, while I lived in shared accommodation and dark basement flats. My partner and I always loved nature though, and once we finally got out first home, we accidentally started to cram it with houseplants.
At the last count, we’ve got about 180 plants collected over two years, so I guess I’ve got a bit of experience now. My favourites are interesting, affordable, but also relatively easy to care for. I especially enjoy the mindfulness of caring for plants, so inviting the stress and pressure of an ultra-expensive, fussy plant is counter-intuitive to me! (For example one of the most popular fad plants of the moment, variegated monstera is often sold for hundreds of pounds.)
So I set up Southsea Jungle as a way to share my own personal houseplant experiences with friends, family, and anyone else who might find it useful.
I was often being asked by people I know for advice on how to care for different plants, and sending lots of long, detailed messages trying to describe. My day job is in communications, so it struck me that I could combine my passion with my skills to create a resource I could use to help others.
And I’ve found that advice on the internet can be confusing, and sometimes even wrong. So I thought I’d put together some simple guides on things like beginner plants that are hard to kill, how to water your plants, and how to care for particular plant types, which I send to friends.
When I get care questions online or from friends, they often serve as inspiration for a new post. After all, if one person is wondering how to identify and fix a plant problem, there are probably others out there who are stuck on the same thing.
I’m certainly no botanist or expert – like most people, I’ve had my fair share of compost heap casualties! And I’m always learning more. Online communities like Facebook groups have been a fantastic place to learn the basics and more, and I’ve found ‘plant people’ to be unbelievably generous, offering free cuttings, sage advice and more, just to spread the joy they have experienced with plants.
I’ve learned so much from some wonderful plant communities and people, and hopefully, through Southsea Jungle I’m paying it forward.
To find out more about tending to your houseplants, follow @SouthseaJungle on Instagram.