The Story of Interior Plants

Horticulturist Joelle Steele wrote a very extensive article on the history of interior plants. It’s an interesting history and we’ve gathered a synopsis of the article for our readers. To read the original article and learn more about the people that built the industry, please read the entire article here.

According to the article, people have been using plants and flowers to decorate their homes and their bodies since prehistoric times. In the tombs of Egyptians and other early civilizations dated back to over 3,000 years ago, images of potted plants were carved on the walls. Terra cotta pots were found in the ruins of Pompeii. These are first recorded proof that humans created green spaces to decorate their surroundings and make them pleasant to enjoy.

medieval gardenIn Medieval times, gardens were grown to produce fruits, vegetables and herbs for medicinal and culinary purposes. House plants didn’t see their revival until the 1600s when greenhouses appeared on the scene in the homes of the wealthy. The Palace of Versailles had an orangery with over 1,200 citrus trees and hundreds of plants. In the 1700s, the first hothouse for tropical plants was build in the U.S. and quickly became big business. By the mid-1800s foliage was used indoors of the homes of the wealthy, and (as Joelle says), “even the lowliest parlor had at least one big splashy plant.”

An early pioneer in the floral industry was Julius Roehrs who came from Germany to settle in New Jersey, leading to its nickname as the Garden State. After a ban was placed on the importation of plants grown in soil, tissue culture would become widely used in farm crops and became the future of interior landscaping.

In the 20th century, the electric light and central heating made growing plants indoors more difficult and plant use declined. But during the Great Depression of the 1930s houseplants experienced a revival in the form of dish gardens. Interior landscaping got a second wind in the 1940s when New York City downtown buildings and restaurants added potted plants and flowers to their interiors.

indoor gardensIn the 1970s, the interior landscaping industry took off. The theory that humans are genetically programmed to connect with plants was accepted. Everyone wanted plants in their homes and offices. Macramé plant hangars were everywhere! It was also when the EPA revealed construction materials could be carcinogenic, and when NASA scientists proved that plants can control environmental pollution.

By the 1980s we knew that indoor spaces with plants had higher comfort ratings. Enter: irrigation and self-watering plantscapes. The recession of the mid-1900s shrunk the industry as small companies closed or merged with others. But the science of plants and their relationship with humans had been established, and by the end of the 20th century the industry entered a new era.

living buildingIn the 21st century, green walls (also known as living walls) are bringing urban gardens to homes, offices, malls, and restaurants. With today’s technology, entire high-rises can become vertical gardens. Water systems are designed to reuse and/or recirculate water. Green materials are being used for potting and fibrous material instead of soil surround roots. The possibilities for pollution-fighting, human friendly plants is endless and the future bright for the interior landscape industry.

Plants For A Better Life

The triangle within the borders of Palm Beach, westward to Naples and north to Tampa have experienced a very dry winter. Outdoor gardeners collectively have their fingers crossed that some rain will soon provide needed relief. At Plantique, we’ve paid special attention to keeping our outdoor potted and patio plants moist and healthy, while our indoor plantscapes are oblivious to the near-drought conditions.

waterscapeRegardless of the weather, we encourage the use of plants throughout each season in order to lift our spirits and improve our environment. Here in south Florida there are more than a few reasons to add more plants to the spaces where live and work. Here’s a few of our favorites…

Drought Tolerant Eco-Plants

For outdoor plantscapes, we look for a mindful mix of plants that are tolerant of our usual wet summers and dry winters. This time of year the Aloe, Bird of Paradise, Bismarck Palm, and Bromeliads are happily providing brilliant colors and greenery to outdoor and indoor spaces while cleaning and purifying the surrounding environment.

Green Walls

For green walls, we look to blended gardens of edibles or ornamentals with annuals, perennials, succulents, and tropicals. These cooling and air-cleaning walls of green cut down on air conditioning costs and can provide an endless supply of greens for restaurateurs, hospital and hotel kitchens, or for simple salad greens at home.

Water Features

Nothing is more relaxing than the sound of water in the garden. Garden fountains are beneficial for stress relief and relaxation in commercial building lobbies and entrances, office gardens, and patio spaces. Small fountains provide a natural humidifier for plants, drown out annoying sounds, and release negative ions to further purify the air in indoor spaces.

What Plants Teach Us

sproutDistinctive to humans, we face each day with an abundance of choices. We choose when we wake up, what we wear, when we leave the house, what we eat, what we say, even the mood we’re in. It’s all a matter a choice. Plants exist and survive instinctively. From their choice-less instincts, we can learn a few life lessons:

Plants set no limits for size. They eat what is available and grow as much as they can.
Humans choose either to overeat and become fat or diet and become skinny. We worry about our food intake and eat to regulate our weight. Books on dieting are best sellers.

Plants love struggle—it makes them stronger. A tree directly exposed to the wind and weather grows thicker roots and trunks to make them stronger and more stable than other trees growing in sheltered areas.
Humans avoid life struggles. Some take pills or drink to forget them. We avoid them whenever possible, and if unavoidable, complain.

Plants don’t needlessly suck all the resources out of the soil in which they are planted. They take what they need to grow, thrive and reproduce.
Humans are never satisfied. We farm, fish, mine, drink, and consume to depletion.

Plants track the sun with their flowers and/or leaves to make themselves a better, healthier plant.
Humans are fearful of the sun. We wear wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved shirts to avoid a sunburn, and slather our children with lotion at the beach.

Plants change their routine to adapt. They shut down in winter, put out new growth in the spring, store food in summer, and shed leaves to conserve resources in the fall.
Humans keep the same life routine season-to-season. To adapt to changing temperatures, we just change clothes.

Plants purify the air as they breathe and some even neutralize pollutants through absorption.
Humans pollute the air with fuel exhaust and chemicals and become sick from breathing the air.

Plants in shady spots climb whatever they can find to absorb the sun’s energy. They grow their roots toward water to store it in their leaves.
Humans tend to let events or feelings prevent us from moving forward in life.

Plants focus on what they need to do to fulfill their own potential.
Humans compare themselves with others instead of focusing on our own potential.

Everything—even mountains, rivers, plants and trees—should be your teacher. —Morihei Ueshiba, founder of the Japanese martial art of Aikido, the “Great Teacher”

Plantique and AmericanHort

Who is AmericanHort? It’s an association of Americans in the plant business—from florists and garden centers, to landscapers and industry suppliers and service providers, to greenhouses and interior plantscapers—like us!

AmericanHort logoIn 2014, the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) and the Association of Horticultural Professions (OFA) consolidated to become AmericanHort. And it wasn’t just to have a snappier name. Not at all. With the consolidation came a more efficient organization to serve the entire horticulture industry including plant breeders, plant wholesalers, even government officials, students, educators and researchers.

How does AmericanHort benefit our customers?

To live up to our customer service standard, we need consistent industry knowledge and education. Through AmericanHort we benefit from research and continuing education on our industry and through the initiatives they offer, like Grow Wise, Bee Smart, and America in Bloom.

Plantique is committed to be the best interior plantscape provider in the Palm Beaches and surrounding counties. AmericanHort helps us share ideas and solutions within our industry and become better stewards to the earth and to our customers.

How to Help The Bees

As we head into the bee pollination season, usually October through mid-April, I’m reminded of an elderly lady in Martin County who called the wildlife authorities to have a bee colony removed that was hanging in her live oak next to the driveway. She complained that she was too afraid to walk to the curb for her mail. A local beekeeper was called to relocate the colony and life went back to normal.

pollinating beeThis year’s Zika virus aerial spraying in south Florida has taken a huge toll on the bee population killing tens of millions of plant pollinators. Florida beekeepers are working hard at splitting bee colonies, a technique used to make up for population losses. However, it takes time for a parent colony to recover its honey-making ability.

So how can we help?

  1. Plant now to ensure mature, blooming plants for the queen bees’ “coming out” party in the spring when they will need a healthy supply of nectar and pollen to start their colonies.
  2. Turn stone patios into bee-enticing gardens of green and flowering plant life and keep it going with a variety of plants that bloom in different seasons.
  3. In outdoor gardens, use less mulch. Solitary bees dig a nest in the ground to raise their young. When mulch is too deep, they can’t dig a nest; if too much mulch is added over a nest, the young can’t escape. Container plants solve this problem.
  4. Rent plants covered by a maintenance plan. When you buy and maintain your own plants, its tempting to use harsh chemicals and pesticides to preserve and protect your investment. When you rent plans from us, our service technicians carefully watch for and hand-treat any problems and maintain healthy feeding patterns that keeps a plant’s immune system strong.

Remember, the key to bee-happy this spring is to learn more about Plantique’s bee-friendly plant rental and maintenance programs, call us at (800) 749-0124.

Aglaonemas (Chinese Evergreen)

Aglaonemas Chinese Evergreen

Aglaonemas : Chinese Evergreen

The traditional Chinese evergreen is a tough house plant that used to come in one color—green. In Asia, they were grown to bring luck to their owners. Over the years, the perennial, which is actually an herb, was cultivated and hybridized all over the world and bred and propagated into a variety of cultivars. Today their leaves aren’t just green, but a myriad of colorful patterns. They are Florida-friendly (can’t tolerate a chill).

On this edition of Get It Growing, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill explains how recent developments with this plant now include striking variations from the original color and style of the plant.