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Houseplants vs. flowers - are you gifting sustainably?

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Publisher: Bloombox Club
Bloombox Club


Flowers are a time honoured classic - they're beautiful, rich with symbolism, and easy to find if you're having a last minute gift-buying crisis! 

But that doesn't mean they're the most environmentally friendly, or meaningful, present around. With Mother's Day around the corner, tens of millions of flowers will be making their way across countries (and continents) in energy guzzling cargo planes, a large proportion of which will be rejected before they hit florists' shelves. So, if you're someone who turns up with a bouquet on Mother's Day, read on - you may want to join us in saying it with a houseplant ...

Flowers die. Fast.

Flowers might be beautiful on day one, but let's face it, even the best quality flowers will give up the ghost within a fortnight.

Houseplants, on the other hand, will live and (hopefully) thrive with you for years. If you’re into symbols, enduring care, new growth and adaptability are a better bet than short-lived beauty.

It’s difficult to put a specific figure on the lifespan of specific (perennial) varieties – you hear stories of plants outliving pets, partners, and staying on after children have left home. Some more enduring varieties include Cycads, Snake Plants, (good quality) Cacti.   

Flowers do greater environmental damage. 

The environmental impact of houseplants has been the subject of recent media attention. 

People who are plant-lovers also tend to be mindful of the impact their actions have on the biosphere. As most houseplants are trafficked to the UK from the Netherlands, some are concerned by the amount of carbon emissions their green obsession entails. 

But, as James Wong points out in The Guardian, Holland is much closer to the UK than most realise: the distance from Rotterdam to Cambridge, for example, is much shorter than that between Cambridge and Edinburgh.

Although both plants and flowers are imported from countries across the globe (with South America and East Asia being prime exporters) because flowers are effectively divorced from their life-support system, they have to be transported at much faster speeds and in engineered conditions to minimise damage.

Indoor plants tend to be hardier and can bounce back once they arrive at nurseries. Good growers will judge whether it’s best to grow a plant from seed/through propagation (which minimises transportation time but increases growing time; entailing energy usage) or to import plants at particular sizes.   

In either case, houseplants travelling (relatively) slowly, by road and ferry, use and expel far smaller amounts of energy and emissions than flowers, which are usually transported in temperature-controlled containers by plane.  

Flowers are disposable.

Related to the above: flowers are a single-use temporary gift. We tend to wait till flowers are wilted and rotting before saying they’re ‘dying,’ but flowers are technically dead as soon as they’re cut.

Houseplants are a gift to build a long-term relationship with; not something to be thrown out with next week's bin collection.  

Houseplants have health and wellbeing benefits.

Both flowers and houseplants will liven up a room. If you’re trying to brighten someone's day then who are we to begrudge you some early tulips!

But it’s worth emphasising that plants are more than decoration. For many, cultivating plants becomes a form of therapy. Paying attention to plants, building a nurturing relationship with them, and caring for them through watering, pruning and other activities, can be incredibly soothing. 

For some, these little routines are a practice akin to meditation, allowing the individual to slow down and recuperate.

And if that doesn’t sound like your giftee's bag, just being around plants has been shown to decrease the body’s response to stress, heighten feel-good chemicals and help us heal more quickly.

So what are you waiting for? Check out our Mother's Day collection or shop the full range now - order by 17th March for delivery in time for Mothering Sunday. Or, our plant gift vouchers can be ordered up until the 22nd and will beat any flower bouquet! 

Surprise your mum - or the maternal figures in your life - with a gift that will last. 

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