Fortem recently invited first responder families to an Indoor Plant Masterclass in the Bega Valley region. This wellbeing activity was a laid back evening, learning the basics of indoor plant care – from watering and fertilising, to repotting and propagating, and everything in between. With indoor gardening growing in popularity, there is a growing number of scientific studies that demonstrate the positive impact indoor plants have on our health and wellbeing – reducing stress levels, lifting mood, improving air quality, boosting productivity and much more. This small group class was also a great way for our participants to connect with others with shared interests, and who also understand the ‘first responder’ life. Let’s hear all about it from Hayley.
“First responder ‘Plant Mums’ gathered at local Tathra Plant Shop, ‘Juvie’s Jungle’ last Friday night, to share tips and learn tricks in what was a cosy, interactive and very green evening.
Participants came with a mixture of skill levels – from self confessed ‘plant killers’ to very knowledgeable enthusiasts and everything in between. We all shared a common appreciation of how plants lift up a space and make us feel good!
One participant brought in a very sad looking plant from home, and our horticulturalist facilitator, Juvette, identified that it’s pot was too big, and that there wasn’t enough drainage. She then showed us how to repot a sad plant – trimming away dead leaves, shaking the soil from the root system and relocating it to a more suitably sized pot. After spending an hour or so draining in the sink, at the end of the night the rehabilitated plant was reintroduced to the group and we were able to see how a few small changes and a bit of know-how made a huge difference to a plants health and appearance.
We learnt that bigger is not always better – if you put a plant in too much soil (ie pot too big), the roots ‘get lost’. Juvette told us to allow approx.1cm diameter around the roots to determine size of pot. This was the tip that surprised many of us – to determine whether or not it’s right to repot – look below to the root system, not the plant growth above!
We also learnt that if a plant isn’t thriving, it’s always good to check to see if there is a mesh around the root system, which is something that commercially grown plants can often have. It can ‘suffocate’ the root systems.
We soon found out that there were a few plant enthusiasts in the room – some who had made quite big investments for rare varieties. Participants shared photos of their plants from home – from a rare variety of variegated monstera to a super long climber, long enough to wrap all the way around a lounge room.
We discussed how humidifiers are good to keep plants healthy, as well removing dust from the leaves. This can be done by placing them in the rain, in the shower. One participant sharing that she uses dusting mitts!
We talked about different sorts of fertilizer, with good old Seasol being a favourite of many. Juvette passed around a local product made from locally sourced fish waste. The group discussed how we had seen the truck driving around the shire, collecting waste from fish cleaning stations (it does NOT smell great!) We all had a smell of the product, and were surprised to find that it had no smell at all – it was actually quite fresh… and apparently it works a treat!
After a dinner of pizza, participants were able to choose a plant to take home. One participant (who joked throughout the night that she was a plant killer) chose a low maintenance option!
It was a wonderful night of laughter and learning, with participants coming together to connect and share in a beautiful environment.”
Find a Wellbeing Activity in the Bega Valley region on our Wellbeing Activity Calendar.