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Freelance Plant Power

More people than ever before are looking to plants, gardening and nature as a way to boost their wellbeing. For those of us who live in cities, finding time to escape urban life can be tricky, and many of us don’t have the luxury of a garden or a balcony. Even if you have a garden or live in the countryside, so much time tends to be spent in the office or indoors.

Bringing outside inside, by introducing plants to your home, is a great way to reap the benefits of nature. Looking after plants, watching them grow and thrive also unlocks our innate desire to care for living things and interact with nature.

James Folger started The Stem in October 2019 after battling mental health challenges while working in the City. The Stem is an ethically-driven online garden centre who hand-deliver plants across London.

Finding time to connect with nature provided James with a sanctuary, and boosted his mental wellbeing. He wanted to build a platform and a community so others could find their own connection with nature through plants.

The respect we have for the natural world guides our principles and sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. We hand-deliver in electric vans and use low-impact, recycled kraft paper to avoid unnecessary plastic use. To help offset any carbon emissions in our supply chain, we plant a tree for every order in societies whose livelihoods have been destroyed from the effects of deforestation. Through our ongoing partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects, we’ve planted over 9,400 trees to date.

Are plants really good for your mental health?

In short, yes. A growing body of research promotes the mental and physical health benefits of interacting with nature. There is good evidence to suggest that people who spend time gardening benefit from improved mood and quality of life. One 2015 study found that interacting with plants can help reduce physiological and psychological stress.

Are plants good for your creativity?

We think so! Co-existing with nature can help us complete tasks with greater accuracy, improve our attention span and even help us retain information. According to a research study conducted by Texas A&M University, places of work with natural elements such as plants boost creativity by 15%. Since most of us are working from home, introducing plants to your workspace could be a great way to improve your productivity. Small plants such as Aloe Vera or Maidenhair Fern make great desk plants.

What are your top five tips for taking care of plants?

  1. Rotate your plant so that it gets even sunlight and then your plant won’t grow lopsided.
  2. Check your soil and under the leaves for pests. You can add a bit of lavender oil to your plant mist spray which the pests won’t like.
  3. Don’t be afraid to prune. Getting rid of dead and dying leaves will promote new growth.
  4. Err on the side of caution when watering and under water rather than over water as that can cause your plants to rot. And there’s no coming back from rot.
  5. If your plant is happy in its location, don’t move it. It will probably have gotten used to the light and humidity and won’t want to be relocated.

What are some great plants for…

Being child and pet-friendly?

Not all plants are suitable for our furry friends or young children, as some can be toxic if ingested. Some of our favourite pet and child-friendly would be a Kentia Palm, which is also super easy to care for and comes in four sizes or maybe a Calathea Orbifolia.

Being easy-care?

Plants such as Snake Plants and ZZ plants are crowd-favourites due to being so low maintenance. As long as you water them once the soil has dried out and they get a little bit of natural light they should be happy.

Air purifying?

Plants can act as natural air-purifiers by removing pollutants from chemicals found in things like furniture and cleaning products. Boston Fern is a great air purifier, removing pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide. Peace Lily is another superstar at cleaning the air.

A gift?

What you choose depends on the person you’re buying for. We recommend something easy to care for like Cast Iron Plant or Aloe Vera for first-time plant parents. For something with a wow factor, a Bird of Paradise would be a winner.

This article was originally published in Freelancer Magazine Issue 1. Get Freelancer Magazine delivered to your door or inbox.

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