By Anna Cottrell published
If you've heard about shaking your house plants as a new house plant care tip, you're probably wondering if it really is such a good idea. We're always told that house plants hate being moved around or disturbed in any way – surely shaking your plant will just make it ill?
Well, house plant enthusiasts are saying that giving your house plant a gentle shake now and again will stimulate growth and make stems stronger, because it mimics the natural movement of the wind. We've asked a house plant expert about the trend, he warns that the hack won't work for all houseplants.
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Richard Cheshire, plant doctor at Patch Plants, says that, generally speaking there really is no need to shake your house plants: 'most tall houseplants don't need to be shaken in order to keep themselves upright as they grow – and there is really no need unless you are putting them outdoors.' And, if we're honest, if you are putting your plants outdoor for the summer, there'll be some real wind to do the shaking for you.
There is scientific evidence that plants benefit from a phenomenon called thigmomorphogenesis, which refers to plants responding to the many forms of 'mechanical perturbations' they experience in the wild. These do include wind, but also rain drops and being brushed or nibbled by animals as they pass through the forest. Over millions of years, plants have evolved to respond even to gentle touch, which activates different survival mechanisms in the plant leaves.
So, if you want to do this, touching your house plants now and again will likely do them some good, although if you're regularly spritzing them with water, they're probably getting enough stimulation from the droplets.
There is, however, one plant that really can benefit from being shaken rather than just touched – the ever-popular fiddle leaf fig. Richard says: 'Fiddle leaf figs in particular, can grow quite weak and do not support themselves very well as the lack of wind indoors means that they do not strengthen over time. It is always a good idea to give them a good shake from time to time.'
So if you do have a fiddle leaf fig at home, shake away. All other house plants will be happy with just a gentle stroke or spritz now and again.
Anna is a keen urban gardener, with David Austin roses and Japanese acers among her favourite plants. She moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space a couple of years ago. She's always been interested in how people make houses into homes, and how our concepts of what's stylish change over time.
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