Plea for Britain’s ‘plant parents’ to stop binge watering

New plant owners are being called on to stop the over-watering ‘plant massacre’ that is threatening endangered British chalk streams, one of the country’s most unique natural treasures.

‘Binge watering’ is thought to be on the rise following lockdowns, and is adding to the nation’s water wasting crisis, which, without action, could see our customers alone facing a shortfall of 43 million litres per day by 2025.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, more than 3.5 million people have taken up gardening for the first time, fuelling the ‘binge watering’ trend. With some indoor plant retailers reporting sales increases of as much as 500% during lockdown, the average spend on gardening equipment up 35% and 2 in 3 ‘plant parents’ admitting they have killed a houseplant, the drain on water supplies linked to the plant love craze is clear.

We have teamed up with House Plant Consultant, Stuart Wilson as part of our movement SOS: Save Our Streams to help support new plant owners. Otherwise known in the horticulture world as Plantastic Mr Fox, Stuart has shared simple tips on how to avoid over-watering and keep plants greener for longer.

Stuart comments; “Since the start of the pandemic, many of us found a new passion for house plants. They bring us a lot of joy, add an aesthetic quality to our homes and reconnect us with nature.

“However; over-watering plants is one of the biggest problems new plant parents face. It is easy to worry that your plants will die quickly if left dry for too long. The truth is actually quite the opposite – over-watering can actually rot the root of any of your green beauties if left to sit in soggy soil.”

Stuart always refers new ‘plant parents’ to his three simple and effective top tips:

  1. “Most common house plants like to be watered when the top 2 inch of soil is dry. The best way to check this is to stick your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle. If your finger is dry then it is time to water.
  2. “When watering, fill your watering jug or can up with lukewarm water and water until it comes out of the pot’s drainage holes. This is all the water your plant needs. Drenching the soil will only lead to stagnant water collecting in the pot, again causing root rot.
  3. “If in doubt, water once every 7-10 days in spring and summer, and every 10-14 days in autumn and winter.”

Stuart continues; “I also get a lot of questions asking what my favourite hardy, easy-care plants are. I am a big fan of plants which require a simple and a not too frequent water routine – for me, they are the best kind of plants for any indoor plant lover. There are some absolutely beautiful hardy plants out there which are very accessible and budget-friendly.”

For those looking for a hardy, beautiful and low maintenance plant to start off or add to their collection, Stuart recommends the following:

Sansevieria trifasciata
(Snake Plant)

“I water mine once a month and she is one happy lady. They also love plenty of light so do well right next to the window.”

Zamioculcas zamiifolia
(ZZ Plant)

“Again, water once a month. They are pretty much happy next to a window as much as they are in a darker corner of your home. I love the perfect waxy leaves of this gorgeous plant.”

A closed Terrarium

“These just need a good misting to create a humid environment. Once sealed, the terrarium will create its own micro-climate and may need another spray of water every 2-3 months, if that. I have a terrarium which is thriving and I have watered it once in a year.”

More endangered than both the Bengal tiger and black rhino, chalk streams, which have been coined ‘Britain’s Great Barrier Reef’, are some of the UK’s most beautiful rivers, boasting pure, clear, water from underground springs.

We are calling on the UK to make a combined effort towards saving 21 million litres of water per day. This is the equivalent of 140 million cups of tea, 37 million pints of water, 262,500 baths of water and 8.4 Olympic swimming pools.

Members of the public are urged to take action now and answer a few questions about how they use water, gain access to their exact household water usage stats and receive a free water-saving kit and tailored advice.

So what are you waiting for?

It’s super easy to help your local environment and Save Our Streams – it’ll only take you three minutes.
And if helping the environment wasn’t enough, you’ll also save money too.