White Almost Everywhere You Look
Brighten your day with some new houseplants.
It is about this time of year, after gray November becomes dark December, as white January, with her narrowed, slushy streets just leaves a chill that’s hard to shake, when everyone could use some perking up. If you don’t have a trip to a warm climate planned, you’ll need to find another way brighten your days. One word: Green. This is not about lowering your thermostat and wearing a sweater (though it is a good idea); it’s about houseplants.
This time of year, outdoor gardening is mostly done indoors - planning your garden layout, ordering seeds, and getting seeds started in a sunny window. If you have the need to jazz things up a bit, some new houseplants can satisfy a craving for green foliage, vegetation or flowers.
“Now is a good time to re-pot some of your plants,” said Mike LaCorcia at Colonial Gardens in Concord. Mike further assures that it is easier than it looks. The key is to be sure the pot that you choose is relatively small. “You don’t want to jump from a small to a large pot otherwise there will be too much soil and too much water for the plant, causing the roots to rot over time,” explained Mike. Typically your local garden center will help you re-pot your plant, further ensuring that it is done properly (and keeping the mess in your home to a minimum!).
Which plants are right for you? Compatibility is important, but in this case your “companion” would be diagnosed with “dependency issues.” Your plant simply can’t survive without you. As guardian, protector and provider, you should choose a plant that you can successfully care for and help thrive. Selection (and thus survival) fall into several categories:
Aesthetic – What is your taste and decor? Consider where you are going to put the plant. Do you like flowering plants? Prefer plants with small leaves? Like large leaves? Is a small potted plant suitable or a large tree?
Environment – Where will your plant reside? What is the lighting, humidity, and temperature of the room throughout the day? Some plants are happy without any direct sunlight; others do best in a sunny location for longer periods. Location within a room matters as well, one corner might be bright and sunny while the other side of the room might not provide the light your plant needs.
Lifestyle – How much time and attention can you give your plant? What is your availability and inclination to regularly water and feed your plant? Nurturing your plant can go even further. There are scores of apocryphal stories, and some scientific studies touting then benefits of talking to your plants. If talking to your plant suits you, do it; it can’t hurt you or your houseplants.
Houseplants aren’t just about looks – they can perform an important function for people. To wit, a home that is energy-efficient, properly-insulated, has weatherstripping and newer high-performance glass windows, and so on, is a good thing. The only downside is that minimizing ventilation also reduces indoor air quality. With the use of so many chemicals and man-made materials in tightly sealed homes our air quality is compromised. NASA was thinking about this in the 1970’s and1980’s as they considered ways to improve air quality for astronauts in sealed spacecrafts. NASA’s study showed that plant-life can purify the air through its natural processes, taking harmful chemicals and removing them from the air. There is a little research that questions this original study and the inference that what works on a tightly sealed spaceship will also work in a suburban homes, but most of the information seems to support the air purification properties of plants.
Visit your local garden center to get advice and suggestions on what houseplants are right for you and go from white to green in no time.
Lauren Kaplan is a Patch columnist from Sudbury. She writes on environmental issues and living a healthy lifestyle for Concord Patch.