Hiroshan Atapattu on indoor plants and how to take care of them
By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
When occupying a space, we tend to decorate it so it has character and aligns with our own personalities and preferences. Whether or not we are conscious of it, we require the spaces we live in to be a representation of our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. This can be achieved with the use of different elements, and indoor plants are one of them.
An increased interest in house plants has been observed, especially during the past two years, as many of us adapted to working from home and wanted to enhance our indoors. Houseplants are not only decorative, but can also help create a space that is relaxing and calming.
Plants for Enola, a venture by Hiroshan Atapattu, a plant enthusiast, specialises in indoor and foliage plants, and offers a range of plants that can be used to enhance any space. He spoke to Brunch about some of the best indoor plants and how to take care of them.
Sharing the story of how Plants for Enola began, Atapattu said the long and interesting journey began in 2019, when they were anthurium suppliers. At the time, they had close to 500 mother plants. The following year, they opened an outlet to sell a wide range of outdoor and flowering plants.
By the end of 2020, Atapattu had started a foliage plant collection as a hobby. His interest in plants grew as he read about the history and legacy of foliage plants and how they were first discovered in the Amazon Rainforest, which he found interesting.
He eventually switched to indoor plants.
“I love foliage, and Plants for Enola is our newest chapter and project. It is more about indoor and foliage plants,” Atapattu said.
Plants for Enola’s collection include philodendrons, foliage anthurium, calathea, aglaonemas, dracaena, and palms.
Many people turned to gardening while working from home. It proved to be a good distraction, and in March 2020, the Ministry of Mahaweli, Agriculture, Irrigation, and Rural Development and the Samurdhi Development Department of the Ministry of Social Security implemented the “one million home gardens” programme, which provided it with further impetus.
According to Atapattu, house plants can reduce stress levels and those tending to these plants may find that it helps eliminate work stress. There is also happiness to be found in taking care of plants and expanding one’s collection.
While gardening may help people in various ways, not everyone has access to garden space, but this does not mean that they can’t take up the hobby, since small spaces like patios and balconies can also be utilised for this purpose. Atapattu added that new plant trends keep emerging all over the world and that living plant walls are one of the latest trends.
Atapattu also brought up the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Clean Air Study, which was a project led by NASA in association with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) in 1989. The study looked at ways to clean the air in sealed environments and found that certain common indoor plants could provide a natural way of removing volatile organic pollutants (VOCs).
“Dracaena, ficus, and monstera are types of plants we can keep even in our bedrooms, as a small space is more than enough for these plants,” he said, highlighting that space is not a limitation for a hobby like this.
When asked what his personal favourites are for such spaces, Atapattu went with Monstera deliciosa, Philodendron Lemon Lime, Kentia palm, Fiddle-leaf fig, and Bromeliads. However, he added that there are thousands of varieties of plants to grow in such spaces.
Atapattu was confident that all people have a green thumb, and said people know how to maintain a house plant collection in any place. However, many of us can admit to having struggled to keep a plant alive.
According to Atapattu, the first thing we must do is to check if the plant is a good fit for the space available for our plant collection.
“Some plants are fond of having more sunlight, while some kinds do not like to have sunlight.
Again some like warmer temperatures and others don’t. It is the same as people. They have their own way of living,” he said.
This is why we should know the basic requirements of a plant and treat them accordingly. We must also understand that these requirements differ from plant to plant. He added that technology and the internet makes it easier to access this information.
“We are happy to be there for anyone having difficulty with their plants; just contact us on social media for any information,” Atapattu said.