Stewarts Office Plants

We supply many businesses across the South, from Sussex and Surrey, through Hampshire and Dorset to Wiltshire and Somerset. For more information about the services we offer visit our home page, or contact us here. In this blog you'll find news, interesting snippets, stories and pictures of our staff's adventures out on the road.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Does compost matter?

Occasionally I slip a bit of horticultural advice into this blog. Even though we make our money by providing maintenance to customers' indoor plants.

On this occasion I don't know the answer to the question: does the choice of compost you plant an indoor plant in really matter? My suspicion is it matters less than some people think...

The houseplant advice forum I've linked to on the right certainly thinks it matters. Every other "my plant is dying" thread seems to include someone making very precise compost formula recommendations.

We have change compost supplier several times in my thirteen year tenure at Stewarts, The main reason has been to find one that successfully eradicates the need to use chemicals to prevent bugs living in the soil. The consistency of the different types has varied greatly, from light and peaty to heavy and soily. We tend to prefer the former, as we have to lift it all day.

One important facet that is often mentioned for houseplant compost is good drainage properties, and this is usually used to justify adding grit to the mix. While I agree that with most houseplants good drainage is a must, I suspect this is less important in commercial applications as we invariably use sealed planters, so have to water with great care in any case.

I was always told that the nutrients in compost are exhausted after three months at most, so again this can't be a reason to favour one type of compost.

Finally, if growing media choice is so important, why is it perfectly possible (in fact some would argue preferable - that's another can of worms entirely) to grow houseplants hydroponically, i.e. in no soil at all? Technically speaking, the roots in hydro planters adapt to their position either above or below water, and empirically I've found that roots in soil adapt to how wet they are habitually kept, which again makes me ask: does it really matter what they are grown in?

Answers by email please!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

This is why we like small contracts

A couple of years ago, I wrote an entry about how we didn't consider any contract too small. There's a lot more detail on why in that post.

Some of our competitors will turn potential business away below a certain value - we won't. Anyone that wants contract container planting is welcome.

One reason I didn't give at the time is that small contracts can only change size in one direction (up!), and this is occasionally shown to be the case.

This week I supplied six interior planted containers to a company near Bournemouth Airport. For many years they had been renting just one from us, so a sevenfold increase! Then today I added another two pots to the display shown above (these pots come from the same great local supplier as the ones I raved about here. So, again having had only one display in their waiting room with us for the last decade, this Fareham dentist decided to order the trough above plus another specimen planter, then decided to throw caution to the wind and order another two, to make the rather pleasing arrangement shown below. In other words, a fivefold increase.

As I said, some of our competitors would have turned their noses up at these contracts in the first place but not us, and the long game worked!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas is over for another year

Yes, I know it's not Christmas for a week and a bit, but for Stewarts Interior Landscaping it's over. On Monday we delivered the last of 72 Christmas trees, the vast majority of them fully decorated.

Here is Debra - who is our Christmas mastermind - standing by the biggest one, an approximately 20 foot high live Spruce delivered to a large office near Bournemouth.

Most of our trees are 6-7ft high and are delivered ready-decorated. This means we can squeeze more orders into the crucial busy period between the last days of November and about December 10. Our normal coverage area for Christmas trees is Dorset, Hampshire and south Wiltshire.

We had a real run on orders for artificial trees (which I prefer) and ended up more or less running out of stock; we also ran out of delivery slots very quickly so had to turn quite a few late orders down, even people who'd previously had one from us.

The lesson here folks is get your order in early - we start seriously taking bookings in September. You can contact us in the normal way, or email me at the link below and I'll pass the message on.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Featured plant: Sansevieria Mikado

As promised I'm trying to include a featured plant from time to time in this blog; if nothing else it'll stop me waffling on about bizarre coloured plant pots the whole time.

After a quiet period of posting caused by a very busy season delivering Christmas trees (separate post to follow),  I'd like to nominate another favourite plant of mine, and a fairly rare one: Sansevieria Mikado.

Those of you that recognise Latin names will know this to be a Mother-in-Law's Tongue. The most familiar one is Sansevieria Laurentii, which has variegated flat leaves.

There is also a cylindrical-leaved variety, called S. Cilindrica. These latter ones are good in theory, having a fan of stiff leaves like a hand with its fingers spread out, but in practice the new growth tends to pop up all over the pot and the elegant look doesn't last long.

S. Mikado, featured here, is an absolute beauty though. The leaves (if you can call them that) go straight up, and the new growth continues in that pattern. They don't come very big, so they are strictly a bowl and trough plant.

I often have clients wanting something in cabinet-top troughs that looks like a grass, and I've yet to find a reliable grass-like plant indoors so tend to steer them towards these. I was particularly pleased with the install in the top photo, which was to a technology office in Chilworth, near Southampton.

The pots are Pantone 201C - their corporate colour - oh no, there I go again!