Our homes are getting too hot for potted plants
But these plants do not exist in Norwegian nature.
Potted plants are mostly plants that love warmth and need sun and water. Norway is dark and cold for most of the year.
So where do houseplants come from? How can it flourish in our living rooms?
At the end of the nineteenth century
We visited the Botanical Garden in Oslo and spoke with Charlotte Sletten Bjora, who is a botanist and researches plants.
“I find potted plants incredibly exciting,” she says, enthusiastically displaying the different plants that thrive in the warmth of the greenhouse.
Here’s a hint: Potted plants thrive in the heat.
“Ported plants in the 19th and early 20th centuries were Mediterranean,” says Bjora.
This is because Mediterranean plants can survive the Norwegian winter. They have to spend the winter indoors and like to stay very cold in the winter.
“In the past, people had parlors, and they were rarely used. So these parlors were often cooler than the rest of the house, where people would put their potted plants in for the winter,” she says.
Typical Mediterranean plants include myrtle, olive trees, figs, oleanders and many palm trees.
These plants can thrive up to 5-10°C in winter.
Tropical plants love heat
Many of today’s most popular houseplants are tropical plants.
“I think what makes a potted plant popular is that it looks pretty or exotic, is easy to care for, and is hard to kill,” says Bjora.
Typical tropical plants include monstera, pothos and spider plants.
These plants prefer warm temperatures year-round and cope well with the humidity levels found in Norwegian living rooms.
“Throughout the 20th century, we began to have warmer homes year-round. This allows tropical plants to thrive in our homes,” she says.
We don’t usually have a rainforest climate in our living rooms, so we need species that can handle low humidity and light during the winter. This applies to many plants that grow on trees, typical examples being monstera and orchids.
They are actually giant in the wild
In the wild, many potted plants grow much larger, and some even bear fruit.
“Monstera can climb tall trees,” says Bjora, pointing to a 10-metre-tall tree. “Just imagine a monster covering that entire tree.”
The researcher explains that the best way to care for the plant is to imitate the way it lives in nature.
“Monsters will climb, and as they outgrow their pot, they will start to droop unless they get some support,” she says.
Sometimes plants can grow quickly and become too large for our living rooms.
“People get rid of plants as soon as they no longer look beautiful or when the plants no longer fit in their homes. I think that’s a shame,” says Bjora.
However, many people share scraps with family and friends.
A cutting is a part of a plant. You can cut a branch and it will grow roots if you put it in water.
If you cut a cutting of a monstera and put it in water, it will grow roots. You can then plant them in a pot, and you have created your own potted plant.
“It seems that more people are now interested in seedlings and taking care of their plants,” says Bjora.
Norwegian living rooms have become very warm
Norwegian living rooms have become too warm for many tropical and Mediterranean plants in recent years.
“In winter, more people are starting to use heat pumps. This means that the plants are constantly exposed to warm air. There are not many plants like that,” says Bjora.
So she shows us the desert room in the botanical garden filled with large cacti and cacti.
“Norwegian living rooms have become very warm. Only desert plants thrive in rooms where the heat pump is used frequently,” she says.
Desert plants thrive in the heat and need little water and nutrients. Desert plants are also difficult to kill because they require so little attention. But they can die from drowning, so be careful when watering.
When did we get potted plants?
“How did we actually get potted plants?”
“We started using potted plants very early,” Bjora says. “In ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, they had potted plants, but they were primarily for outdoor decoration. During the Middle Ages, potted plants moved indoors, but they were Mainly confined to monasteries and often composed of medicinal plants.”
In Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from about 500 to 1500. In Norway, we also had the Viking Age from about 800 to 1050.
Bjora shows that expeditions to foreign lands from the 15th century onwards, including those by Christopher Columbus to the Caribbean and Vasco da Gama to India, introduced many new plants to Europe.
However, they indicate that potted plants did not begin to appear in people’s homes until the latter half of the 18th century. Around this time, better heating systems became more common in homes, allowing potted plants to finally survive indoors.
But it wasn’t until the 1920s that people could buy ready-made potted plants. Before that, they had to make it themselves either from seeds or cuttings.
“Do you think the Vikings brought plants home and put them in pots?”
“Maybe. But an important factor for potted plants is light, and during the Viking Age, they didn’t have the kind of windows we have today,” Bjora says.
Translated by Alet Bjordal Gjelesvik
Read the Norwegian version of this article at ung.forskning.no