As millions of people prepare to return to offices for the first time in months tomorrow, experts have warned of a new wave of loneliness… among houseplants.
Horticulturists say plants have become accustomed to the extra warmth of people moving around their homes and the additional carbon dioxide produced by their breathing.
Gardening expert Angela Slater says: ‘Studies have shown that plants can sense water, light and gravity.
‘They can even defend themselves and send signals to other plants to warn that danger is near.
‘They’re much more aware than people think so it’s very likely they’ll be able to sense when owners are not at home.
As millions of people prepare to return to offices for the first time in months tomorrow, experts have warned of a new wave of loneliness… among houseplants
‘Plants will not fare well in the silence when owners are back at work.’
Ms Slater, an adviser at Hayes Garden World in the Lake District, suggests leaving a talk radio station playing throughout the day to fill the silence.
Professor Denis Murphy, emeritus professor of biotechnology at the University of South Wales, says plants respond to their environment, not to people, but agrees that they are less likely to thrive in an empty property.
‘In lockdown, families have been together and there has been a lot of activity in the house, with kids and pets running around,’ he says.
‘It is the vibrations that plants will miss. Plants sense when we speak, but it is the vibration that helps them grow.
‘When the house is empty, plants will also miss the extra carbon dioxide, so I would advise giving plants more nutrients and fertiliser to help them along.’
But Dr Devang Mehta, a plant biologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, rejects the idea that plants might suffer post-lockdown blues.
‘A plant will not suffer human loneliness,’ he says. ‘I don’t think it will make any difference to a plant if people are in the house or not.’