NATURE AT HOME with Diane Nittke
Those lucky few who live near nature aside, many of us dwelling in the concrete jungle don’t usually have much nature to enjoy apart from the few odd trees and shrubbery along the roadside, or perhaps some potted plants in the building’s lobby.
Let’s not forget the therapeutic powers of nature – remember the last time you went to a hiking trail or country park and felt calm and revitalised? With some research and commitment, we can bring nature into our home to elevate our living and wellbeing. Plants can purify air, uplift our mood and induce relaxation; they brighten and enliven our lives with their inherent vitality, and offer a welcome change of scene after too many hours of staring at the screen, hence should be indispensable at home.
[H = Habitat; N = Nittke]
H: Why is it important to have plants at home? What role do you think plants play in our lives?
N: Being surrounded by nature is always so important to achieve life balance. Bringing plants and flowers into our homes provides this, plus how aesthetically pleasing they are to look at.
H: What kind of plants would work best for homes in Hong Kong?
N: We need to take into account that while we live in a tropical climate, our indoors are climatised with air-cons and dehumidifiers. It is important to understand the atmosphere and overall climate condition of our home. Then with our knowledge of plants, see if we need to look at some that are more durable like Birds of Paradise, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Snake Plant, Dieffenbachia, Ctenanthe, Monstera. Or if you can be a little more adventurous and choose a more unusual species that will need attention. This will also open up your choices.
H: How do you choose which plants would work in which part at home?
N: Depends on the light and temperature, when and for how long is sunlight directly or indirectly affecting different areas of the house. It’s important to understand this for any plant to survive its habitat.
H: What advice would you give clients in terms of incorporating plants in their homes?
N: Decide on a few areas where you think you may like to have plants, understand the surroundings they would have, then look for the ones of which their care criteria match this and also please you aesthetically. Alternatively you may see a plant you love and you will take time to find the right place for it at home. Quite often you may need to move a plant from one place to another, until it settles into the space it prefers and responds well to.
H: Something(s) that you wish more people can understand about co-living with plants.
N: Plants are an important part of our lives and co-living with them doesn’t need to be difficult. All you need is to inform yourself a little and go for it, be bold and take it on!
H: Can you share a few tips for growing plants at home?
N: There are a few steps you need to understand – light and temperature and how they affect the space, water quantities and what the plant needs. A gentle fertiliser to give it a little help and keep an eye out for any insects that may try to settle on your plants. This is more so for homes with indoor-outdoor spaces. However keeping plants does not need to be complicated. If you are a new aficionado, do a little research and also find the more durable indoor plants first, that may need less maintenance.
Ultimately, plants do need care and there does need to be a little commitment however it really is worth it!