House plants are all the rage — again.
Back in the late ’60s and early ’70s everyone was decorating their homes and apartments with all sorts of foliage plants and even making macrame hangers, myself included. Society was in turmoil then, with the Vietnam War and racial tensions, and surrounding ourselves with plants had the effect (either consciously or unconsciously) of calming things down.
Well, guess what? Society is once again in turmoil and Americans, especially millennials, are doing like many of us boomers did back in the ’70s and surrounding themselves with plant life.
About four years ago, I wrote about some of the benefits of having plants in our homes and at work, such as their ability to clean the air. There is actually something called the “sick building syndrome” where people get headaches, virus infections or develop allergies from all the compounds they are breathing in. House plants can clean these toxins out of the air of our homes.
In addition to the physical benefits of house plants, there is also the beneficial effect plants have on our mental health, or dare I say our soul. As human beings, I firmly believe that we are connected to all forms of life and that there is a spirit that runs through all creation, and that on rare occasions we actually get to experience.
Building “relationships” with our house plants helps to make us whole and feel fulfilled, in what otherwise is becoming an increasingly impersonal world.
Actually growing plants in our homes or office can be tricky. My wife does an amazing job with hers, despite what I consider to be gross neglect. She waters them infrequently, rarely feeds them and only on occasion gives them any grooming.
While this may sound abusive to some, it is most probably what keeps them from crapping out. The reason is simply that like most houses, light conditions are less than optimal, so the plants grow very slowly and consequently don’t need much water or food. This is especially true during our long and dark winters.
Even if you have big windows, supplemental lights and keep your house in the mid 70s during our winters, most house plants don’t need to be fed. Once we move into spring and summer, it is a different story.
If you have caught the house-plant bug but don’t feel like you are an expert, a simple internet search will reveal several lists of easy-to-grow house plants. I asked my house plant manager for her opinion, and she recommended the following plants for beginners.
Snake plant and its many cultivars is a bullet-proof plant for anyone. Its thick leathery leaves never dry out and it rarely gets any bugs. If you forget to water it, it won’t wilt and it has a strong architectural quality that makes for a nice accent in the house.
Split-leaf philodendron is another bold upright plant that makes a nice specimen and will grow up a pole if you train it. It’s large Swiss cheese-like leaves are very dramatic.
Succulents and cactus are perfect if you have good light and are a negligent waterer, as these plants only need water once a month.
Whether you are a geezer like me, a millennial (which by the way is now the largest generation in America) or somewhere in between, house plants can fill both a physical and spiritual need in your life. Check them out at your favorite garden center this month.
Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at email@example.com.
The Joy Of Houseplants
Attend a free class all about houseplants 10 a.m. Jan. 20 at Sunnyside Nursery, 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Marysville. For more information or to sign up, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net.