Jane Perrone, journalist, writer and producer of houseplants podcast 'On The Ledge', shares her ever growing passion for houseplants. She explains how more than just elevating any space, they can also spark the imagination, create a rewarding sense of self-satisfaction and alleviate stress.
What was your most memorable houseplant?
I had an African Violet that I think someone gave to me as it was half dead. I managed to nurse it back to health, and I remember being so thrilled when it started to bud. I came home from school one day knowing it was about to flower, and went into my bedroom with my hands over my eyes, in suspense over whether the flower had opened. I was delighted when I saw it was flowering! It was a great moment of triumph and helped get me hooked on houseplants.
What is your favourite houseplant that you own right now, and why?
That's a tricky one! Right now, I would say it's the Episcia Cupreata (flame violets) I grew from seed. Their leaves have the most fascinating variegation with differing patterns and a silver and pink sheen.
Most interesting tip or trivia you have about a specific plant?
I am on a mission to get us all growing Aspidistras in our houses again. Did you know that the leaves of Aspidistra Elatior were cut and used as dividers between different foods - called haran - in traditional Japanese bento boxes?
In your opinion, which plant is the weirdest of them all, and why?
I don't think you can top the Venus Flytrap for weirdness. The idea that a plant can move that fast in response to a stimulus is just mind-blowing, and scientists still don't really know how it works.
Most extraordinary plant-obsessed person you’ve met (who and why)?
It has to be James Wong. He has a truly wonderful sense of imagination when it comes to displaying houseplants, from aquascaping and terrariums to growlights and living walls. Plus we share a mutual childhood history of obsessing over a particular houseplant book, The Houseplant Expert by Dr DG Hessayon.
Most important encouragement you can give a beginner indoor gardener?
Get to know your space - what areas of your home are warm and sunny, where are the draughts and which rooms are cold and dark? Then match plants that suit those areas. The more you know about your plants, the better, so invest in some good books, look online and of course listen to 'On The Ledge podcast'!
Which plant have you been proudest of to have kept alive?
My Venus Flytraps and my Alocasia 'Black Velvet'!
What do you love most about gardening?
Surrounding myself with plants and learning about what makes them tick.
Favourite secret garden or greenhouse in the UK?
The greenhouses at West Dean Gardens near Chichester on the south coast are exceptional.
The ‘dream plant’ you wish to get your hands on?
I would love a Philodendron 'White Knight'.
Why do you think plants have become so important in today’s urban societies?
As our lives get busier and more complicated, spending five minutes a day tending a plant can be a pleasurable 'time out' that helps us to de-stress. Plants are beautiful and a lot less tricky to look after than a dog or a toddler!
You recently joined us on a trip to Holland to visit a few greenhouses, what was your highlight?
I learned so much from the trip, seeing the sheer scale on which plants are produced was incredible, and it was heartening to see how many growers are working hard to reduce their carbon footprints and improve the sustainability of their business. The sheer range of plants on display at Flora Holland made me realise how far the houseplant industry has come in the last few years, and I am excited to see once-rare plants now become commonplace in garden centres and nurseries.
The chance to look behind the scenes, meet growers and talk plants with expert growers was a real pleasure for me, and I know it's going to help me bring some fascinating plant stories to life in my podcast in the coming months.
From greenhouses to urban jungles
To find out more about Jane's recent greenhouse visit and to watch the video, click here.