• Lucy

NASA put a plant on the moon!

…sort of.

I was recently watching the sci fi movie Ad Astra with the delicious Brad Pitt. Is it me or does that man get even hotter with age? In the unlikely event that you’re actually reading this Brad…marry me? Brad journeys deep into space on a mission to find his missing father – I’m no film critic but it is worth a watch if you like a bit of sci-fi or a bit of Brad Pitt.

I find outer space and the universe in general fascinating. What the hell is out there? Where did it all begin? Where does it end? What is the meaning of life?? Okay, enough enough! It also makes my brain want to explode if I think about it too much. So, let’s bring the topic back to the simpler things in life, plants.

One small step for man, one giant LEAF for mankind.

I am definitely late to the party talking about this one but NASA did a study in the late 80’s on different plants abilities to purify air. They were checking it out to see whether taking plants along with the astronauts when they went off to work on the space stations would help clean the air. The results were pretty positive, not only were the plants absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen (obvs) but they were also removing some of the nastier pollutants in the air too – benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, to name just a few.

Naturally this research got quite a lot of press and the question was then asked how can we reap the benefits by bringing plants into our own homes. Well I’ve got good news and bad news for you guys. The good news is yes plants can help purify our air but the bad news is that further research suggested that you would have to have hundreds of plants in your home to have the same effects as NASA’s research found. Living in space vs living on earth is apparently very different. Who’d have thought? So, unless you are an extremely avid plant fan and you can barely move through your home because you have turned it into a jungle then you are probably not going to get the same results as NASA did in their clean air study.

But don’t be dismayed just yet, there are still lots of studies which lean towards the positives of having air purifying plants in your home. For the purpose of this chat I’m going to hone in on one that in my opinion is a total champion. The classic Spider Plant. It is one of my all-time favourite plants, it always takes me back to growing up. My mum and dad had one that was a wild sprawling thing with little babies shooting off it from every direction. My dad would spend time drawing it as part of his still life studies and it was a permanent feature in our family home for as long as I can remember.

The Spider Plant can often get bad press for being a little bit of a Plain Jane of a plant, but I love their little personality, their striped yellow/white and green leaves, the way the leaves sprawl like a very bad hair day and the fact that they are super easy to grow!

A curly spider plant sprouting babies.

The Spider plant is definitely a member of the easy to take care of club. It is a hard to kill one because it will let you know when it is not happy. The yellow and green leaves will dry out and turn brown when she’s being overwatered or under watered so just keep your eye on those lovely leaves. Great news is they can recover pretty quickly if they have been unhappy and you change their watering schedule to something they prefer. They like to be kept fairly moist but the top inch of soil should always be allowed to dry out before the next watering. Stick your finger in its soil to test before you water. And don’t forget that once a leaf turns brown it’s never going back to green (or green and yellow striped in this case) so you can always snip those leaves off every once in a while, if you like to keep your plant looking fresh.

The Spider Plant has thick white roots which store food and water like a camel so it can survive a little while without any love, should you be a little forgetful one week. But aim to water once a week and give her lots of bright indirect sunlight.

Really happy ones sprout little babes left, right and centre. And if you have the desire to have a bigger Spider Plant gang you can propagate fairly easily. The best way to get good results from propagating is by potting the baby (offset) when it’s still attached to the mother. Pick one of the babies which looks like it already has a tiny root growing and pop it into the soil. Don’t cut it off until you see some new shoots form on the top. This means its ready to move out and live alone in the big bad world! Cut the cord and free it from its mother. She’ll be glad to have the babies finally move out, or at least that’s the impression I got from my mother when I eventually took flight all those years ago.

Another way to easily propagate is to snip off the babies and place them so their root end is dangling into a small glass of water. Once the roots start to show signs of growth (tiny white shoots) then you can transfer them to small pots with soil. It won’t take long and they will be shooting off babies of their own too. They are a fun one to practice propagating with if you’re new to that so have a play around with them.

Propagating in water. Easy peasy!

My favourites are the big bad ass mothers who have tons of sprawling babies coming from them. I just think they’re fascinating to look at and fill a space with so much personality, don’t be afraid of the bad rep of being a little bit of a bore of a plant – I think they are a classic for any home.

Apparently, you would need approximately 70 spider plants in your home to clean the air as per NASA’s study so propagate away and you’ll have 70 before you know it! And on the off chance that you maybe don’t actually want to live like a mad person in a jungle of spider plants pass them onto your friends so they can enjoy the simple and in my opinion graceful beauty of the Spider Plant.