Freddie Blackett is the co-founder of Patch. While trying to transform his girlfriend’s balcony Freddie came up against the many obstacles faced by urban gardeners. A lack of education, inspiration and availability of plants put a stop to his plans to create an urban oasis before he could really get started.
This inspired the idea for Patch: whether inside or outside your home or office, Patch helps you discover the right plants for your space, delivers them to your door, and helps you take care of them.
We caught up with Freddie to discuss the plant craze going on at the moment.
There’s been a growing focus on health and wellness over the past few years, especially as we become more aware of the harmful effects of living in busy urban areas on both our physical and mental health.
Houseplants have the ability to improve air quality by filtering toxic compounds, mould and dust, but they also provide a boost to our mental health.
City life can be busy, stressful and disconnected from nature; plants encourage us to slow down and spend some time with nature.
There’s the simple fact that plants bring a space to life; as we see more plant-filled homes popping up on our Instagram feeds it’s tough not to feel inspired!
There’s been a lot of focus on the air-purifying qualities of plants recently, and rightly so.
As city-dwellers we spend more than 90% of our time indoors, where the air is up to ten times as polluted as outside. Plants have been shown to filter the air of these toxic compounds, resulting in a cleaner, fresher environment. This is particularly relevant as the London air-pollution reached illegal levels this year, and the UK has the highest rates of childhood asthma in Europe.
Plants offer benefits to our mental health too.
The act of taking time out of your day to reconnect with nature has been shown to improve wellbeing in many ways, from making us feel less stressed to increasing creativity.
How can gardening become a form of mindfulness?
We’re getting used to a world of everything being on-demand, whereas taking care of plants encourages us to slow down and be patient. There’s no way to cheat time with gardening, so you get a real sense of achievement when you see a new leaf unfurl or flower bloom. It’s incredibly rewarding to tend to a living thing and see it thrive as a result.
Many of us in cities are also spending less time in nature, our daily exposure to a bit of greenery limited to a shortcut through the park to work. Caring for indoor or outdoor plants allows us to reconnect with nature, and I believe this is fundamental to the sustainability of urban life.
Some people think that bringing plants into where you live or work adds a chore to their busy schedules but, with the support of our free video course and Plant Doctors, we’ve seen that most of our customers find their plant care routine to be one of the most relaxing and rewarding parts of their week.
How do you think houseplants enrich people’s homes?
Plants have a remarkable ability to bring homes to life. With so many of us moving from rental property to rental property, they allow us to immediately add a personal touch to a new space without the need to redecorate or invest in expensive furniture or art.
Why are some plants more suitable for some rooms instead of others?
The first thing to think about when choosing a plant is the space that you have available. Humid bathrooms without much light aren’t going to provide a happy home for a desert plant like a cactus, for example, as they’re used to dry and bright conditions; a tropical fern, on the other hand, will be in its element.
There are also extra qualities to some plants that make them particularly suited to certain spaces.
A select few, such as Susie the Sansevieria or Franky the Aloe vera, release oxygen at night rather than during the daytime. This is said to improve sleep quality, so we like to keep them in the bedroom.
What are the best plants for beginners?
We created a collection of (Almost) Unkillable indoor plants which is perfect for someone new to plants who’s a bit concerned about keeping them alive. Plants such as Howard the Aspidistra look great, but won’t immediately die if you forget to water them. It’s a great way to dip your toes into plant parenting.
We also have a collection of Outdoor Plants for Beginners, made up of hardy and good-looking outdoor plants that will be at home in a whole host of spaces.
How can we make sure we take care of each plant in the best way?
The first step is always to think about the plant’s natural environment and how best to replicate it – this will help make sure you aren’t keeping the plant in the wrong conditions. For example, a desert cactus won’t be very happy in a shady, steamy bathroom.
Once you’ve chosen the right plants for your space, our Houseplant Parenting video course is a great way to get to grips with plant-care basics and help your plants to thrive.
Is it true that singing to plants is beneficial to them?
We have heard that both talking to plants and playing music to them helps with growth, so maybe singing is an ideal combination of the two?
Either way, if it encourages you to spend a bit of extra time tending to your plants it can only be a good thing!