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Houseplants vs. Flowers

Read more posts in The Green Room

Flowers are beautiful, easy to procure, and a classic symbol of love. For centuries flowers have slotted in where words fail, helping us express care at ceremonies of sorrow as well as joy. As testament to this, approximately 200 million cut flowers are exchanged at Holland’s Alsmeer on Valentine’s Day morning and the days preceding. If you're one of many flower-bearers on Friday 14th, read on - you may want to join us in saying it with a houseplant ...

Flowers die. Fast.

Impermanence is romantic in a tragic sort of way, but it’s probably not the kind of love we should be striving for! 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 are worse for the environment

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 gloomy February 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 Valentine’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 Valentine’s Gift guide or shop the full range now - order by 9th Feb for delivery in time for the 14th. Or, our plant gift vouchers can be ordered up until the 14th and will beat any flower bouquet! 

And if you're looking for a special someone, we've devised a fun way to find your perfect plant match, so get swiping to find your #plantbuddy or read all about it here.



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