Wellbeing With Plants | Dominic Hooghuis from The Plant Runner
Please tell us a little bit about yourself...
My name is Dominic Hooghuis and I’m one half of the Melbourne- based brand The Plant Runner. I started my plant obsession as a child, I grew up on a few acres of land in central New South Wales and I have amazing memories of my parents constantly out in the garden working with all types of weird and wonderful plants and trees! Their passion was infectious, and I started experimenting with plants, growing and propagating whatever I could find in whatever vessel I could find to grow them in! I’d go on adventures into the forest with my dirt bike and find stunning stag horns and birds nest ferns growing in huge trees, or go harvest nuts from Bunya Bunya Pines that had fallen to the ground!
Duncan (Hilder) and I launched as Australia’s first plant truck after converting a vintage 1968 International ‘Horse Float’ into a mobile greenhouse in 2017. We pop up at events, markets and businesses selling indoor plants and plant accessories. Operating from the vintage truck always fascinates people, it’s a very positive space and we love to chat with our customers about indoor plants and people’s journeys. As the business has grown, we’ve up-cycled another two vintage vehicles into mobile greenhouses, a 1960’s Wayfarer caravan and a vintage tricycle – it combines our passion for the environment, recycling and the joy of all things green! We’ve also launched our range of Indoor Plant Products - a specialised fertiliser, a leaf shine and most recently an indoor plant potting mix.
We’re both a bit indoor plant obsessed and I think that helps a lot when developing our products for the indoor plant lovers of the world. We want to make products that not only work, but also look great on the shelf at home.
What do you love most about indoor plants?
There is something calming and grounding about plants and trees. In this digital world it feels like nothing is sacred anymore and nature is the only thing that can reconnect us with earth and reality again. Plants have a soothing effect on our souls and I love how plants can have such an impactful role in people's lives - they reduce stress, clean the air and provide a connection to nature within the home. They allow us to be creative in how we style spaces, giving us another medium to work with and express ourselves. I think there is also so much still to learn about plants and that excites me.
How do indoor plants enhance your wellbeing?
I think the sense of calm that plants bring to an indoor space really help slow my busy mind, I can find it really hard to switch off at times and the presence of plants helps to declutter my thoughts. I love stopping and checking in on each plant individually and observing it’s progression and growth and seeing how I can contribute to help the plants health and well being the way it does to mine.
In what other ways do plants nurture you?
I have a young family and we spend a lot of time in our small garden at home, nurturing and maintaining our green space. My two young boys have shown a real interest in the garden (both indoors and out!) and recently they’ve had an increasing interest in growing our own food. I love showing my boys where and how fruit and vegetables grow and we’re experimenting with growing food in vertical gardens and indoors with grow lights.The garden connects us and I treasure that time with my family.
What's your favourite plant?
I wouldn’t say I’ve got a favourite plant so to speak as I love so many for different reasons but I would say I’m currently loving Ficus Dammaropsis or Dinner Plate Ficus, it’s a cousin of the Fiddle Leaf Fig but has much larger deep green leaves and you don’t see it much, especially in the home, which makes it slightly more desirable!
What do you find most difficult about plant care?
I’ve found that once you know your space and have lived in it a while it’s far easier to understand your plants needs and how to keep them happy and healthy! Re-potting plants can be super messy and this was a big influence on the design of our indoor plant potting kit especially the addition of our compostable potting tarp, I actually use it quite a lot at home and during installs and maintenance.
Has taking care of plants taught you anything insightful?
It’s taught me that we can connect emotionally with plants in the same way we do with a pet. We have a huge Fiddle Leaf Fig in our house that has grown up to the ceiling and bent back down - growing over towards a large window. We’ve become so attached to it, it's like a member of the family now!
What is another wellbeing practice you swear by?
I feel it’s important to get back to nature whenever possible. I like to ride my vintage dirt bike (I up-cycled that one too!) up into the forest and spend a day on my own up there, I’ll ride until I a find a spot surrounded by trees and ferns and just chill out in the silence for a bit.
Photography: Four Point Zero