Plants have a mind of their own

16th June 2022

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The world would be a very boring place if we were all the same. We all have our own behaviour styles, reactions to certain situations. It’s what sets us apart from robots. Have you noticed how some of your plants, although they may seem identical, behave in different ways? This might be growth rate, shape or seasonal (such as when leaves start to drop for autumn). Whilst regular trimming and training can create uniformity, ultimately, plants are not produced in a factory, they are alive and therefore, like all living things, are unique.

Whilst their is uniformity in the plants pictured above, they won’t be identicle. We are conditioned to expect instant gratification; and things (phones, cars etc) to behave in a certain way. Plants didn’t get the memo.

They are living organisms and will behave as individuals. Which then leads us into another question…do plants “talk” to each other? Scientists have found that plants can indeed communicate with each other through their roots and fungi. Through these mycorrhizal networks, they can communicate various conditions such as an insect attack as well as send nutrients to a tree in need. Fascinating stuff!

These Agapanthus were planted at exactly the same time, next to each other and yet the plant on the left has produced flower buds already, way ahead of its neighbour. The environment will have an impact on plant performance as well as the surrounding, the neighbouring plants, and the ground conditions.

Rectify don’t ressurect

Plants do go through a lot, and especially after the winter period, one should expect some dead branches and brown leaves even on evergreen plants. It’s best practice to remove the failed part of the plant sooner rather than later so they can regenerate themselves. If a plant looks like it’s failing it’s much better to try and solve the problem rather than wait till it’s dead to wonder where things went wrong. It’s always better to try and rectify a failing plant rather than trying to ressurect it. Do some research, are you watering too much or too little? Is it in a shady spot compared to the other plants in the scheme? We have some helpful guides on our website:

A study at Oxford University in 2011 has shown that even plants cloned from each other mutate and are therefore not identical.

Anyone who has ever taken a cutting from a parent plant and then grown a new plant from this tiny piece is actually harnessing the ability such organisms have to regenerate themselves,’ said Professor Nicholas Harberd of Oxford University’s Department of Plant Sciences, lead author of the paper. ‘But sometimes regenerated plants are not identical, even if they come from the same parent.’

Don’t expect all your plants to behave / perform in the same way. Embrace their differences.