Erin Thomas is our new favourite person. Since launching Hopeless Botanics mere weeks ago, she has been helping people transform their spaces with gorgeous leafy (almost unkillable) plants. She chats to rogue this morning about plant care and the benefits of bringing the outside in.
What houseplants are popular right now?
People seem to be loving large house plants right now. We’re all stuck in dooors a lot, and large plants give a great hit of colour and life to a room. I think people have tweaked that they’re not much more work compared to a small plant, but they really add style to a room and create a cool focal point. Big and easy going plants that I’m loving right now are a kentia palm, our philodendron fun bun, and our large monstera.[restrict]
Do you need to have a sunny house?
Quite the opposite, most indoor plants prefer shady spots in a bright room, or bright but not direct sunlight. Lots of direct sunlight will scorch the leaves on a lot of plants and roast them to bits. For a lot of them, their natural habitat would be on a jungle floor, where they get dappled sun and quite a bit of shade. There are exceptions – there’s definitely plants that like direct sun such as euphorbias, cactus or sansevierias, that would be from more drought tolerant desert type environments. The key to getting your plant to thrive is picking one that suits your light conditions and space.
Do you need to have loads of room?
If you’re short on floor space but still want a big hit of green, look for more compact, less bushy plants. I love tall aspidistras, they’re not showy, but they are total stalwarts. They are structural, classic and just so easy to care for. There’s always the option to use hanging plants or let them spill downwards from a shelf as well.
What works best for Irish houses?
Try to choose plants that suit your lifestyle as well as your gaff. If you travel a lot for work or go on holidays (not likely right now but we can dream!), you might want to consider sticking with plants that are drought tolerant and can go 3-4 weeks without a drink. ZZ plants are a great drought tolerant plant. If you have a dog or cat that likes to munch your plants, stick to pet friendly plants.
Does the time of year impact the health of our plants? Do they need more care in summer for instance?
In summer indoor plants definitely need more feeding and watering. It depends on the plant, research what it’s needs are and in springtime feed it once every 2-4 weeks to help them with their growth spurts.
Now is also a good time to give your plants one last feed before they go dormant. The majority of indoor plants go dormant for autumn and winter. This means some of them can start to look a bit funky at times. They might drop leaves, get discoloured, and often people freak out and start over watering them thinking they’ve killed their plant. A lot of times it can be just the natural seasonal growth cycle of the plant, and you actually haven’t butchered it. If you know the name of your plant, try research a bit about it, so you are aware of what it might start doing in autumn.
How do we keep them alive?
Picking the right one will set you up well from the outset. Before you buy a plant, have a good think about where you want it to go, and then look for a plant that will suit that space, as well as your lifestyle needs. Also buy the one that you adore looking at! It’s great craic keeping plants – it brings such life, colour and style into your home – enjoy it, don’t be afraid of them! It’s so satisfying seeing them grow and most plants are hardier than you think. If you see some yellow growth, don’t freak out, just chop it off. It will stimulate more growth. If you have some humidity loving plants, bring them into your bathroom while you shower and they’ll love soaking up all the humidity in the air.
Plants are beautiful and real living things and it’s normal for every single piece of foliage to not look 100% picture perfect sometimes. Try not to stress about them, because you want them to enhance your life – not cause anxiety. If you let them, they can help with mindfulness as you step away from your desk to care for them, they bring satisfaction and joy seeing them shoot out new growth and they can add depth, and a natural cosiness to your space.
Tell us a little about Hopeless Botanics and why you established the business
I’ve been wanting to start this business for years. I am also garden obsessed, and I first got into house plants because the gardening winded down in autumn and I wanted to bring some green inside into my gaff. I love the accessibility of house plants, you don’t need a garden, or lots of money, and there’s a lot of cool plant communities, inspiration, guidance and banter on instagram and the internet to help you along.
I have been at home minding my kids for the last three and a half years. I used to work in the overseas aid sector. I started the business during lockdown, I thought I was going to be hawking plants on fumbally lane with tumbleweed rolling by, but the response has been fantastic. A friend of mine is helping me out now too, and we are trying to build a business that we are proud of, that showcases plants we love, and we want to have a bit of fun with it as well.
We’re all about making it easy for people to bring beautiful greenery into their homes. We sell online and we’ll have some new pop up shop dates and locations announced on our instagram soon. You can find us on instagram @hopelessbotanics and at www.hopelessbotanics.ie.
Main Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash[/restrict]