When your plant gets struck down with the most awful of illnesses, do you choose to treat or throw….? Is throwing a plant is the bin cruel, and should you be desperately trying to save its life even when the prognosis isn’t good.. I am forever having such emotional wrangles when it comes to plants. So, is it ok to just throw away plants?
What about when your annuals finish blooming? Do you leave them to squeeze out the very last of the blooms during September, or do you allow them to go to the big plant graveyard in the sky and replace them with a cheerful autumn display? My suspicion is that most people leave them in place until they are frost-damaged, thus missing out on a whole potential autumn season of colour.
I learnt a lot about ‘throw away plant’ attitudes when I was working in Japan a couple of years ago, as I was asked to run some practical demonstrations with a range of students. The way the ladies planted up the containers really blew my mind- they were shoehorning more plants into each container than I’d ever seen done before.. and they were mixing annuals with perennials and shrubs too!
The ladies were basically flower arranging with real live plants. Upon enquiring with my translator about this planting style, she informed me that they only expect the container to look good for a few weeks, then they’ll replace it with a newly planted one!
The way we plant in the UK is a lot more purist, and we expect a lot more value from our plants. In fact, during my time working in the marketing of mail order plants, one of the most important USP’s was always something like ‘4 months flowering’ or ‘non-stop flowers’. I was wondering why we expect so much from our plants? Is it because our plants are more expensive? Or perhaps we have less disposal income that we want to ‘fritter’ on such things as plants? You’d probably spend more on bunches of fresh flowers for your indoor vases each week!
In fact, I know that many Dutch households replace the plants in their gardens and houses much more often. In the border, once the flowers fade, plants are usually pulled out. It’s only the evergreen structure plants that get to outstay their welcome!
When Bloombox Club came onto the scene with their revolutionary plant subscription service, the question on many people’s lips was ‘if I take a whole year of deliveries, what will I do with all those plants?’ Well, to garden traditionally, you may soon have a garden full of plants, depending on the space you have. However, if you rotate your plants, and use them only when they’re at their best, and dispose them when they’re not, then the concept can work. In fact, I wrote about the ‘jigsaw garden’ a few months ago, read it here.
Of course, the quickest disposal method would be to compost your plants, and indeed this creates a nifty sustainable solution for your plants. However, the more community conscious way to behave might be to donate your faded plants to a local eco-therapy project. This way, you’ll be helping others to enjoy the mental benefits of living plants with your ’delayed donation’. You can easily look up your nearest eco-therapy project with the help of Mr Google.
So, perhaps plants really shouldn’t be expected to last forever.
However, don’t be hasty with your disposal when those plants could be used to help someone in need.