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.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Silly Greenhouse Sign

While this sign in our greenhouse has a purpose (related to this year's version of this event hire), it could be construed as a little confusing...


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Soil or Hydro?

Hands up who knows what hydroponic planting is. No? OK...

Hydroponics is an entire system for growing plants in a soil-free medium (normally expanded clay granules). Watering is monitored by using floating water level indicators. The plant actually grows a different kind of root under the normal water level, this explains how wet and dry-loving plants can both be grown in the same water reservoir.

It offers a number of advantages over traditional compost-based planting:
 - Plants seem to perform markedly better, you can keep the same species in lower light in hydro in my experience.
 - There is no danger of soil-borne pests, e.g. fungus fly
 - Plants can go longer between watering, meaning maintenance visits can be less frequent
 - if installed correctly, and if equipped with the right equipment (like giant pastry cutters!), plants changes are very easy.

On the other hand:
 - The plants are more expensive
 - Because they have rigid, vertical pots, it's hard to make mixed arrangements with them, and hard to use them in some funny-shaped pots
 - Because the granules are loose in the pots, it's harder to transport them
 - If the water indicator breaks, you have no way of accurately watering them, and hydro plants do not like incorrect/inconsistent watering
 - Rather a reduced range of plants
 - If not installed correctly, or if not equipped with the pastry cutters, plant changes are a pain!

Stewarts, with the exception of a single contract we inherited, use soil-based planting, as do most other UK companies. Occasionally we are asked to quote using hydro planting, and have no objection to doing so, but it's not something we push without prompting. Hydro was briefly fashionable a few decades back, and occasionally seems about to come back. It is definitely a better system for specimen planting, less so for troughs and bowls etc.

Interestingly, I'm told it is as dominant on the Continent as soil planting is here.


Thursday, January 08, 2015

Lovely Phalaenopsis Orchid

I just had to post a picture of the Phalaenopsis Orchids that we received in a plant order from Holland yesterday.

We order six white orchids every four weeks for a particular pair of reception desk floral displays in Bournemouth. Our plants are bought effectively mail order and I just ask for white ones.

These - for some reason - feature very distinct purple spots at random on the petals, as you can see.

I think they are beautiful. Could I get them again if I tried to order them specifically? Doubt it!


Neoregelia Meyendorfii - goodbye?

This post will probably not mean anything to all but the most ardent fan of houseplants, or others in the industry, but I am reliably informed by my Dutch plant supplier that the little red plant called Neoregelia Meyendorfii (universally called 'Nid' - a compression of its old Latin name, confusingly) is no longer available.

As a layman, you might think that if a plant exists commercially, it will do so forever. Not so! Many niche plants come from a single nursery source, so if that nursery decides (as in this case) that it's not profitable to grow it, it disappears from the market. Another example of this is a plant I used to see occasionally when I started in interior landscaping in the nineties called Maranta Massangeana

As a digression, it is also interesting that what can be obtained commercially varies depending where you are in the world. Reading the US houseplant forum I link to on the right, it's clear that there are plants you can pick up in Walmart that simply don't exist in Europe, or are very rare (e.g. red Aglaonemas - as I blogged before).

Why does this matter? 'Nids' are an utter mainstay of our planting portfolio. If you are a Stewarts Interior Landscaping client and you have a desktop bowl or a trough, the chances are you have had Nids in there at some point. Added to a mix of Mother-in-Law's Tongues and Money Plants, they are used in a planting style we call Desert Planting, which apart from making troughs look a lot more modern than with more tropical planting (see below), also makes a very nice built-in-bed scheme.

Sadly, there is nothing quite like the basic Nid (apart from its larger relations such as N. Flandria, which are about three times the price), so we are going to have to think of something new.