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The silent plant killer in your kitchen

Shift your fruit bowl away from your plants! The gas that some fruit and veges give off as they ripen can stunt plant growth, cause deformed growth and curled leaves, cause buds to fail to flower and flowers to die early. Who knew?! Some food is worse than others - and some plants are more sensitive than others. Find out what to watch out for below...
fruit-away-from-plants

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The gas some fruits and vegetables produce as they ripen is called ethylene. Some produce more ethylene than others. Ethylene is a natural plant hormone, known in the floristry industry as a ‘silent killer’. Also the reason growers recommend supermarkets keep flowering plants and bouquets away from the fruit and vegetable section (my local grocery store did not get that memo).


Some plants are more sensitive to ethylene than others. I've listed all the most common 'moderate' and 'very sensitive' ones below (the full list of sensitive plants is actually miles longer but not all are as sensitive as others). I was surprised how many of our favourite indoor plants make the list.

 

Indoor plants sensitive to ethylene 


These are some of the most well-known on the long list of indoor plants 'moderately' to 'very sensitive' to ethylene:


Begonia
Schefflera
Cyclamen
Euphorbia
Ficus
Fuchsia
Hibiscus
Impatiens
Kalanchoe
Lily
Stock
Daffodil
Pachystachys
Orchid
Geranium
Petunia
Philodendron
Primula
Gloxinia
Azalea
Rose
African Violet
Thanksgiving cactus
Streptocarpus


High ethylene producers


The worst culprits in the fruit bowl for producing ethylene as they ripen are apples, bananas, melons, pears and peaches. Tomatoes are moderate ethylene producers too. But it’s not just fruit and vegetables than can cause it, ethylene produced from vehicle exhaust can also damage growth, buds and blooms. 


If you'll excuse me, I need to go move my fruit bowl! If you can't choose between your fruit and your plants, or your kitchen's a lush indoor jungle and the plants can't move, you can also get ethylene absorbers to pop in your fruit bowl (the same as florists use to keep cut flowers fresher longer), plus you can put those in your fridge to keep ethylene sensitive food like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower fresher for longer.

 

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