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Plant Parent

Whether you have exercised your thumb to green status or you’ve only recently brought home your first plant baby, all plant parents would agree that growing and nurturing plants is one of the most rewarding activities. 

With Garden Day on our doorstep, we’re inviting all plant parents, whether newbie or aficionado, to celebrate their green spaces on Sunday 11 October.

In the busy rush of modern society, cultivating plants encourages slow living and reminds us of the natural pace of life. Award-winning interior designer Donald Nxumalo agrees:

“There’s an unhurried creativity that comes with gardening. Typically, I’m racing against the clock, but on my balcony I can let the process evolve slowly. This balances and invigorates me. It inspires my design work.”

Growing plants indoors and in close proximity to where you spend most of your time can have incredible benefits to your mental and physical health. 

Indoor plants are said to improve air quality, boost your mood, creativity and productivity, and have the added bonus of adding beauty and natural aesthetic to the home and workspace.

Even with all of the benefits plants provide, many would agree that being a plant parent can sometimes be a challenge. One of the biggest challenges is knowing just how much light your plant needs to flourish and grow. 

Plants use the energy in sunlight to turn water and carbon into glucose (plant food!), therefore it is crucial to know the light requirements of your houseplants.

Different plants have different light tolerances so before bringing home a new plant, you need to consider the type of light your home receives. 

Some plants do well on a shelf close to a window in the living room, others thrive in the scorching sun in the windowsill, whereas some would prefer the dappled shade of a low light bathroom. 

To help you select the right plant for the right spot, learn more about the three light tolerances below.

Light terms explained

Full sun (direct sunlight)

If you’re looking for plants to fill that very sunny corner in your home your mind should immediately rush to the desert-dwellers. Plants like succulents and cacti that, in their natural environment, spend most of their days in sunny, warm conditions can tolerate prolonged periods of direct sunlight. Be aware that the scorching heat can also damage some succulents so it’s best to place them in an area that receives soft morning sun.

Sun-lovers: cacti, succulents, ponytail palm and spineless yucca  

Low light (shade-tolerant)

Before we dig into low light conditions, we need to stress that all plants need light and would starve without access to UV light. Some plants are accustomed to growing in low light conditions, and naturally grow in the lower parts of the forest, overshadowed by the foliage of other plants, and are adapted to these lower light conditions.

Low light lovers: pothos, parlour palm, spider plant, Chinese evergreen, ZZ plant, Bird’s nest fern and Maidenhair ferns  

Bright indirect sunlight

When in doubt place your plants in bright, indirect sunlight. Indirect sunlight means you won’t be placing your plants in the blazing sun, like the North-facing window that receives intense heat and direct sun rays. 

Indirect sunlight can be explained as an area that is filled with bright light but has no sun hitting it directly. This could include an East or West facing window, or two metres away from a North-facing window.

Bright-light beauties: Delicious monster, Philodendron,Rhipsalis, Hoyas, Peperomiasand most other houseplants.

Once you’ve found the right spot for your plant, it’s time to get creative and style your plants according to your personal preferences. To help stir your creative juices, Donald Nxumalo shares a few of his best indoor plant styling tips.

Donald Nxumalo’s styling tips

  • Embrace simplicity
    • Pair a simple but sizable plant frond with a clean, clear, or decorative vase for a fresh and dynamic statement in key areas of the home.
  • Aim for interesting
    • Mix cut stems in unexpected vessels for invigorating displays.
  • Add style with patterns and interesting materials
    • Containers and pots can add a wonderful addition to your style tool chest. Think about a ceramic glaze or geometric pattern, leather, or terrazzo. Add stripes or colour block patterns.
  • Embrace your ceiling 
    • If you are limited on space, hanging plants on a wall can be the perfect solution.
  • Embrace the sculptural shapes of plants
    • Particularly those of the succulent variety or air plants that require a minimal amount of attention. The colours and shapes of succulents vary greatly and are all unique and interesting visually.

Join the movement

To inspire South Africans to celebrate all things green, Garden Day will host a number of virtual events in the run-up to Sunday 11 October including flower crown making workshops. So, if you need a bit more guidance be sure to join one of the sessions. Once you’ve made your flower crown, snap a picture and share it across social media, using #GardenDaySA.

Virtual Garden Day Gathering

On the day the movement will host its first Virtual Garden Day Gathering with a host of events, including a Q&A session with garden guru Tanya Visser, a flower crown-off with comedian Schalk Bezuidenhout and TV and radio presenter Zoë Brown, garden-inspired gourmet with Chef Karen Dudley and more via Zoom and Facebook Live.

#Tag your posts with @GardenDaySA and #GardenDaySA to share your green celebration with friends, family, and fellow plant lovers online.