When my daughter moved out, my 700 house plants moved in – it was worth the £10,000

FROM brightening up our homes to giving off healthy vibes, house-plants have grown in popularity since the first Covid lockdown.

Demand at garden centres was up 81.2 per cent in July 2020 compared with the previous year — and celebrities have been showing the way.

Darren Fletcher

House-plants have grown in popularity since the first lockdown, here Adriana Cidadeswho has more than 700 plants[/caption]

Olympic diving champ Tom Daley revealed on Instagram he has more than 200 plants

Olympic diving champ Tom Daley revealed on Instagram he has more than 200 plants and that they help his mental wellbeing.

Loose Women panellist Stacey Solomon showed off her cactus collection on social media and singer Charlotte Church has dozens of plants hanging from the ceiling of her dining room.

But all this is not a patch on Adriana Cidades — who has more than 700 PLANTS in her home.

She says: “I started off with a few around 18 years ago but it was in lockdown that my collection really grew and I now have over 700 tropical plants. The collection is probably worth around £10,000 and I do a lot of swapping and trading with other enthusiasts online.

‘I talk to my plants, tell them they’re beautiful’

“I’ve probably bought half of my collection and swapped the other half, and spent over £1,000 on equipment like self-watering pots, humidity readers and LED lamps. But to me, the collection is priceless.

“When my daughter Sandra, who is 25, moved out, I turned her bedroom into the guest room — and the guest room into a haven for the plants.”


The business systems manager, 47, who lives with partner Antonio Queimado, 48, an enterprise resource planning manager, says: “I converted our spare room into a sort of greenhouse and it’s home to over 300 plants. I have heat lamps to keep it at the optimal temp-erature, between 21C and 25C, and the house is naturally humid, which they love.

“Watering the plants in just that room takes two hours so it’s time-consuming to water the whole collection around the house. But I don’t see it that way. I really like watering each plant, one by one, to check how they’re doing — if there is new growth or if they need anything.

“Every day when I finish work I check on them and every weekend I tend to them. I probably spend ten hours a week with them, repotting, checking the roots. They’re living beings so need care, just like humans. I like talking to them, give them encouragement, tell them they’re beautiful and growing well.”

Horticultural therapy uses plants to ease the troubles of people with depression, anxiety and dementia. Humans have turned to it in some form or other for centuries.

Tending to them relaxes me. I know each one individually. I love to see them thrive, it makes me feel good to know they’re happy to be with me.

Adriana Cidades

Some clinics in Manchester now “prescribe” potted plants to mental-health patients and are backed by the city’s health commissioners.

Adriana, of South Holland, Lincs, says of her plants: “Tending to them relaxes me. I know each one individually. I love to see them thrive, it makes me feel good to know they’re happy to be with me. It’s exciting when you see a new leaf.

“Antonio sometimes says the collection is getting too much but he loves them and often checks on them. When family or friends come round, they often want cuttings.

“I probably have 20 to 25 species of tropical plants but I’m not finished yet. No matter how big my collection, it’s always exciting to find a plant I’ve been looking for. Some people might like shopping for shoes or clothes but for me, receiving a parcel containing plants is an adrenaline rush.”

Adriana, who shares her hobby on Instagram at @tropical_eden, is far from alone in her passion. Patch, an online indoor plant retailer, reported a sales spike of 500 per cent during the first lockdown.

There was also a 533 per cent surge in the number of 18 to 24-year-olds visiting the Royal Horticultural Society website in the early days of the first lockdown.

‘I stroke their leaves, as they thrive that way’

Cynthia Vajda, 32, who lives in Crawley, West Sussex, with her tattooist husband Robert, 34, quit her job as a warehouse dispatcher in April last year to care full-time for her 200 houseplants.

She says: “I tend them like they are my children. But they create a serene home, which I imagine is the total opposite with kids! Every day for two hours I water them, making sure they are OK.

“I really don’t see myself with children. Instead, I let my plants fulfil my nurturing needs.”

Her hobby began during the first lockdown, to relieve work stress. She says: “I needed something to calm my mind and already had a couple of plants, so that became my focus and my collection grew.

“At first I would pick up plants from supermarkets. Then I started going round garden centres and would come away with five or six at a time. When I discovered tropical plants through Facebook groups, my mind was blown. I realised there was a whole other world out there and I was hooked.”

Cynthia turned a spare bedroom into her own relaxing place with her plants. Over the past six months she has made her hobby into a business, cynthiaplants.co.uk.

I talk to them, touch them and stroke their leaves, as they thrive that way.

Cynthia Vajda

She says: “I saw how other people were selling plants on Facebook Marketplace and I took inspiration. I now send plants all over the UK.”

Cynthia, who is Hungarian and moved here from Romania six years ago, adds: “At first my husband was not taken with my hobby. He thought it was a waste of time and money. But now I catch him going into my room from time to time to visit the plants. They are his babies, too.

“I prefer tropical plants, which require a bit more work, but it’s still got to be easier than having kids. There are no night feeds and having to face kids’ parties or contend with terrible teens.

“I have my plants in see-through pots and inspect the roots to make sure they are thriving.

“I talk to them, touch them and stroke their leaves, as they thrive that way. I now have the spare room for me and my plants.

There’s a chair and when everything is too much, I go in there with a book or listen to music. It’s heaven.”

Darren Fletcher

Adriana says ‘I like talking to them, give them encouragement, tell them they’re beautiful and growing well’[/caption]

Stewart Williams

Cynthia Vajda, 32, says ‘I really don’t see myself with children. Instead, I let my plants fulfil my nurturing needs’[/caption]

TIPS FOR BEGINNERS

SOME of the easiest plants to care for are succulents, such as the jade plant, or a money tree.

Snake plants are also good for beginners as they do not need as much water as some others. Spider plants are relatively easy to keep and cacti are low-maintenance, too.

Keep the potting soil moist. Make sure this is not too wet or too dry. It is important the pot has drainage holes in the bottom so any excess water can escape. This helps avoid root rot. Plants need light, so position your pots near a light source – whether that is natural or artificial.

Only re-pot when it gets too big for the container. A sign is when the roots push their way out of the drainage holes. Treat signs of disease. White dots, sticky residue on the leaves and a bad odour are all evidence of this.

Avoid pruning. Unless your plant is looking tall and spindly, leave it.

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