Plants in the News

Started by David Pilling, May 27, 2022, 01:43:24 PM

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David Pilling

Plants can talk to each other and scientists say it should make us rethink how we treat them

Scientists in Japan observed plants sending tiny, mist-like messages to each other through the air.
This is the first time we've seen visual evidence of plants talking to each other.
The researchers think the plants are warning each other of dangerous threats.,detects%20certain%20chemicals%20as%20light.

David Pilling

I bought a £10 moisture sucking plant from B&M and it's worked wonders for damp and mould in my home

In fact there are quite a few clever houseplants that can suck moisture from the air and help prevent the build up of mould.

Eager to give one a try, I managed to find a snake plant - also known as a Sansevieria - at B&M, costing £10.

Other common house plants that can help banish mould include spider plants, orchids, Boston fern, English ivy, peace lily and palm plants.


OK, admission first.......

Do I beleive any of the many and various claims about (house-) plants absorbing anything significant from the air?
But I will work through any claims that people make, unless insanely daft before I even get that far.

The problem with trying to rationalise anything involving something like household conditions, including damp, is that there is never information about how and why things are damp, for how long, or when. There are countless imponderables.
However -
As a very general rule, the dew point inside an "average" UK house, will generally be about 1-2C higher than outdoors. There will be "stagnant pockets" of air that may creap higher (or even stay lower) in RH, but for mould to be a problem, not just a "dark mark" in a small corner of the room, we must be talking the bulk of any room.

Mould requires 70+% RH to really get going. At a room temperature of 20C, the air will contain something around 15g of water per cubic metre at that RH.
So let's say we need to be around 50% RH to be at least reasonably clear of mould, and the room is 20 cubic metres - quite small. So around 20 x 15 x (50/70) = 214g of water will have to be removed.

That assumes no more ingress of moisture.

Think about it.

I grow lots of Sansevieria, all indoors, I don't notice desication of anything.

David Pilling

I don't believe the claims - I have a dehumidifier running 24/7, every day I pour away 3 litres of water. Can a plant derive its water from the air and store it in its tissue - yes. Can it store 3 litres a day, no chance.

As a child adults would say that plants had to be removed from the room at night for safety - due to the CO₂ emitted. I one set up a CO₂ monitor, it is interesting how high CO₂ will get without ventilation (and that was a room without plants).


More folly, I just cannot understand how such waste of resources gets financed, for little more than garnishes.
The last section says it all.

One of UK's 'most advanced' vertical farm opens (

I'd love to see some costings to understand the "logic". Especially at today's (or last year's) cost of electricity - so high, along with the price of gas, that many growers across Europe left their greenhouses cold and empty winter-spring 2022-2023.

Maybe the lighting is at a low level compared to producing anything but young plants/seedlings, which this sort of "farming" does. Maybe the plants have no time to etiolate?
Maybe the fast growth of seedlings allows fast enough turn-around of the growing space that output is high enough to offset the vast cost of running the growing room?

David Pilling

Interesting that the article lists a few companies that have gone bust in that line of business.

David Pilling

Climate change is turning the trees into gluttons

The study, recently published in the Journal Nature Communications, finds that elevated carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased wood volume – or the biomass – of forests in the United States.

This phenomenon is called carbon fertilization: An influx of carbon dioxide increases a plant's rate of photosynthesis, which combines energy from the sun, water, and nutrients from the ground and air to produce fuel for life and spurs plant growth.,forest%20groups%20across%20the%20country.

David Pilling

Giant redwoods: World's largest trees 'thriving in UK'

Giant redwoods - the world's largest trees - are flourishing in the UK and now even outnumber those found in their native range in California.
The giants were first brought to the UK about 160 years ago, and a new study suggests they are growing at a similar rate to their US counterparts.
An estimated 500,000 trees are in the UK compared to 80,000 in California.

David Pilling

Poland's 'Heart of the Garden' crowned Tree of the Year

The monumental common beech tree grows in an old park in the University of Wroclaw's botanical garden. It's the third Polish tree in a row to win.


Quote from: David Pilling on March 20, 2024, 05:26:40 PMPoland's 'Heart of the Garden' crowned Tree of the Year

Of all plants, trees must be by far the most difficult to appreciate in photographs. There are a couple of this beech and one makes it look of no major consequence, the other is very different.

There are some fabulous beeches in the UK, not all of them huge. Some are very gnarled and stunted as a consequence of where they grow.

David Pilling

North Korea TV censors Alan Titchmarsh's trousers

Central TV aired a 2010 edition of Alan Titchmarsh's Garden Secrets for its morning audience, but made sure that viewers could not see his jeans.

David Pilling

'Otherworldly' plant blooms for first time in decade

Birmingham Botanical Gardens said the Puya alpestris, from the Chilean Andes, began to flower in one of its glasshouses last week.

It is described as a "truly rare event" with visitors told they have just days to see the "exquisite" plant.

Staff, meanwhile, face a race against time to pollinate it by hand.

Puya alpestris is native to the mountainous regions of central and southern Chile and distantly related to the pineapple, the botanical garden said.

Diane Whitehead

I should lend them some hummingbirds - they pollinate Puyas in Chile.
Diane Whitehead        Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

David Pilling

On the BBC news at lunch time they had video showing a bloke up a ladder pollinating the puya and they said humming birds did it in habitat. It said that it spends years looking like a pile of dead vegetation before throwing up a huge flower spike.


It shouldn't look like dead vegetation. I grew this Puya for years in a big pot in a solarium, and it finally flowered. However, I got rid of it because I was tired of getting stabbed by its hundreds of fishhook-like marginal spines. In Chile, P. alpestris provides shelter for a rare species of chinchilla, and is encouraged to grow in the preserve dedicated to this little nocturnal mammal. The Chinchilla Reserve is also an excellent place to see many plants in flower around December, and interesting birds too. Puya species seem to be fairly easy to propagate from seed.