Gardening indoors – watering, pruning, repotting houseplants and being in contact with greenery – has a positive effect on our mental and physical well-being, boosting not only morale, but also creativity, productivity and concentration, and even lowering blood pressure.
Time spent caring for plants at home offers psychological comfort, a chance to de-stress and calm over-wired nervous systems, and is just as rewarding as outdoor gardening, but less taxing on your knees and back. and a little less messy than work in the bed garden.
Anyone, young or old, can participate in indoor gardening activities, including apartment dwellers who want to feel connected to plants but don’t have a yard to garden in.
The only difference between gardening outdoors and indoors is that houseplants are completely dependent on the caregiver for their needs, so proper watering and proper location are imperative, especially in typically inhospitable and home environments. dry during the long Montreal winters.
If your home is dimly lit, supplement with grow lights. To increase humidity, mist houseplants regularly and group the plants together in a place, such as a cozy “houseplant nook” where you can read quietly and relax. Growing plants in terrariums or on a tray of water filled with pebbles are other ways to control humidity.
Houseplant divisions can also be grown in water-filled jars placed along a visible, sunny windowsill. There are many ways to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of indoor plants during a long cold winter.
Growing Christmas Cacti
Some houseplants are real mood lifters, thriving on the dullest of days. The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) is one such plant, displaying vibrant magenta flowers on the tips of cascading succulent stems just as outdoor temperatures and day lengths drop, towards the end of November.
This festive plant makes a great holiday gift and is easy to propagate, providing, of course, it receives the proper care. A well-lit bathroom or kitchen where the humidity is high and cold drafts are non-existent is a suitable location for Christmas cacti.
Growing herbs is easy, attractive, and rewarding, even if you don’t cook with them. Select three to five jars with your favorite herbs on a kitchen counter under a hidden fluorescent tube. Rubbing the foliage will release their fragrant oils releasing pleasant memories of summer.
Take the time to take care of the plants
Schedule time during the week for houseplant care just as you would for exercise, cleaning, or meditation. Water houseplants only when necessary and make sure pots have drainage holes to prevent excess water from rotting roots.
Use a damp cloth to clean the dust from the large leaves to make them shine.
Thoroughly clean small-leaved plants using a spray from the shower nozzle rather than trying to dust each leaf. Examine the plants for mites and other common houseplant pests and cut off any dead foliage. Listening to your favorite music will make plant care less of a chore.
Black thumbs take note. The trick to having a green thumb is to persist, ideally with the will to succeed, even if a plant or two are killed along the way. Indoor plants need light, water, and air to survive, but taking a one-way approach is not a good strategy. Get to know the unique needs of your plants, just like you would a new puppy.
Do you remember the old adage “Talk to your plants”? When you talk to your plants, you will naturally be close enough to know what they need from you. So talk to your indoor plants regularly. Just make sure no one else is listening in the room while you do it.
Elaine Sanders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org