Leave No Plant Inside

Remember when plant-care experts suggested that talking to your plants could make them healthier? New studies indicate that WALKING plants will keep your plants extra healthy, extra happy, and extra green. Perhaps you thought that dog-walking was just for dogs?

At the Chicago Botanic Garden we’ve been walking our plants for years—it’s one of the little-known reasons for our lush foliage and gorgeous flowers. Crews are out at the break of dawn around the Garden walking plants before the crowds arrive.

“All it takes is a wheelbarrow and a little patience,” says horticulturist Heather Sherwood. “I’ve never had a plant refuse a morning walk—but make sure temperatures are above freezing, and even warmer for tropical plants, before you take them out.”

PHOTO: Garden staff are moving a large wagon loaded with potted mums to be transplanted in the Circle garden.
Garden horticulturists know that walking the mums to the garden bed improves their blossoms.

Despite the groundhog’s forecast on February 2, spring’s arriving late this year, and temperatures have remained too cold to walk all but the hardiest native plants. Consider taking advantage of this week’s warmer air to get housebound plants moving now.

“It’s important for plants to get out and moving early in the season,” says plant scientist Dr. Pat Herendeen. “Movement and exercise open the stomata (tiny holes in the leaves that allow gas exchange), letting fresh air into the leaves. It gets the plant breathing and the sugars flowing, which improves their overall condition and promotes healthy flowering.”

PHOTO: Dr. Fant carries a fern and a pothos plants out of the Plant Conservation Science Center.
Dr. Jeremy Fant was among the first to take his plants for a stroll when the weather warmed up last week.

Health experts agree that a walk is good for you and your plants alike. For houseplant owners, there are plenty of plant-walking strategies. My neighbor combines the daily duties of dog walking with plant walking in a novel way. He saddles up his dog and attaches his smaller plants to the dog’s back. The two of them draw a lot of attention from other neighbors, and it’s easy to see why!

PHOTO: Dog is wearing a special coat that holds small house plants so he can take them for a walk
Enzo the dog doesn’t mind taking plants along on his regular walks.

If you don’t have a dog, you can carry your plants in a backpack, roll them in a wagon, or even pull them on a skateboard. Just getting them moving is the key. I don’t recommend recruiting your cat, however.

Remember for lush green happy plant results—keep those plants moving!

This was posted on April 1, 2013. April Fools!

©2013 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Published by

Karen Z.

Karen Zaworski is a writer who likes to use as few words as possible, a photographer who still works with black-and-white film and a darkroom, and a gardener who actually likes to weed.