The plant whisperer who saves withering blooms from the bin: Gardener turns her home into an indoor jungle after rescuing hundreds of unwanted houseplants
- Sarah Gerrard-Jones urged people not to throw away shrivelled house plants
- She said to help bring them back to life with some water, sunshine and food
- Sarah rescues plants in her semi-detached home in St Albans, Hertfordshire
For many of us, keeping one houseplant alive can be a struggle.
But green-fingered Sarah Gerrard-Jones devotes her days to bringing withering blooms back to life – and has already saved hundreds from being chucked in the bin.
Her semi-detached home in St Albans, Hertfordshire, is bursting with plants which were being given away, or sold for a token sum, simply because they were looking a bit ‘sad’. Others were rescued from roadsides or picked out of a skip.
The easing of lockdown is expected to result in a wave of plants being thrown away as offices return to find their Swiss cheese plant or mother-in-law’s tongue a bit shrivelled after months of neglect.
Green-fingered Sarah Gerrard-Jones (pictured) devotes her days to bringing withering blooms back to life – and has already saved hundreds from being chucked in the bin
But Mrs Gerrard-Jones urged owners to show them kindness – along with some water, sunshine and food – to help them spring back to life.
She has picked up more than 200 plants over the years, turning her house into something of an indoor jungle, and has nearly 100,000 followers on her Instagram account @theplantrescuer.
She said she fears that resumption of work spells armageddon for houseplants. ‘I expect there will be a huge amount of plants being thrown out. I’ve seen a lot dying in shop windows. I will go round to see if they will let me take their plants before they get thrown in the bin,’ she said.
‘It’s heartbreaking. Just near me, there’s a cafe, a yoga studio and a barbers – all their plants are dying. It’s a bit of a tragedy.’
The freelance picture researcher, who lives with her husband James and their daughter Eva, 13, became a ‘plant rescuer’ by accident.
She said: ‘I didn’t intend to get into this at all. I was going to the DIY shop to pick up some paint three years ago. When I was in there, staff were going through the orchids and binning the ones that had stopped flowering.
Pictured: A bagonia rex before (left) and after (right) being bought back to life. The easing of lockdown is expected to result in a wave of plants being thrown away as offices return to find their Swiss cheese plant or mother-in-law’s tongue a bit shrivelled after months of neglect
Pictured: A Swiss cheese plant before left and after right being bought back to life. But Mrs Gerrard-Jones urged owners to show them kindness – along with some water, sunshine and food – to help them spring back to life
Pictured: A spider plant before (left) and after (right) being bought back to life. She has picked up more than 200 plants over the years, turning her house into something of an indoor jungle
‘I was horrified. Just because they stopped flowering doesn’t mean they are dead. I said, “Don’t do that. I’ll take them home”. I ended up taking 20 orchids home instead of them ending up in the bin.’
From there, she went on a mission to rescue as many ‘sad plants’ as possible. ‘It’s not rocket science, sometimes it’s really easy to make a plant to look really great again,’ she said. ‘Often all they need is a little water, some warmth and sunshine and sometimes a little liquid fertiliser. I’m not an expert – if I can do it, anyone can do it.’
Unfortunately, her home has now reached capacity, so she is considering getting a greenhouse to rescue more plants. Her efforts were applauded by Guy Barter, chief horticulturalist at the Royal Horticulture Society. ‘It’s heartwarming to see people rescuing plants,’ he said. ‘Foliage plants are extraordinarily tough. If a plant is looking a bit sad, don’t despair, give it a few months and it can get back to health.’
Five tips for feisty foliage
- Remove dead leaves. If the plant has been overwatered, remove dead blackened roots.
- Put the plant in a sunny spot – outside ideally, in sunshine, during the warmer months
- Give the plant a little water, but avoid overwatering
- Add a little liquid fertiliser such as Baby Bio or Miracle Gro, according to manufacturers’ instructions
- Repot if pot-bound – when the roots have completely filled the bottom of the pot. Add a little compost to a larger pot and pop in the plant