View On Gardening

Green Is The New Black

by Paul “Dr. Q” Noe, Staff Horticulturist/Certified Horticulture Advisor, Star Nursery

It’s a new year and for many of us that means new health commitments. Here’s one that doesn’t require a membership, tight clothes, or counting reps: Get a houseplant.

The health benefits are at the top of the list for reasons to add houseplants to your living or work space. Studies indicate that indoor air quality can be up to five times worse than outdoor air. Since most of us spend an average of 90% of our day indoors, the health risks associated with indoor air pollution are significant.

Research shows that houseplants can:

  • Purify the air and help get rid of harmful organic compounds like trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and ammonia.
  • Reduce stress and lower blood pressure by creating a calming effect.
  • Improve memory and focus while increasing productivity.
  • Contribute to an overall sense of well-being.
  • Increase and regulate humidity in the air.

Think you don’t have a green thumb? We’ve all been there. You finally commit to buying a beautiful houseplant and put it in the prettiest pot and it makes you so very happy. Then, almost as quickly as it came, that happiness fades with the wilting and eventual death of your cute little green friend. ::play sad violin tune::

Here are some foolproof tips to get you off to a good start:

  1. Drainage: Pick pots or containers with drainage holes.

Roots need air to live and planting them into a pot without holes is condemning them to a slow death by drowning. Make sure there are holes in the pot and a drain plate to catch the draining water. Empty that drain plate a few minutes after watering.

  1. Light: Check the plant’s needs.

Even the most low-light tolerant plants need light to live. Photosynthesis is a plant’s well-balanced diet. There should be enough light to read a book by for most of the day.

  1. Soil: Not all are created equal.

Succulents and cacti are a trendy option for bright indoor spaces. Remember that their needs are different than those of traditional houseplants. Traditional houseplants need a good water absorbing potting soil. Cacti and succulents need the opposite. They need a sandy well-draining soil, and need to dry out between watering.

Some tropical plants would also do well with a regular misting of the leaves.

It’s important to know what type of plant you’re considering and weigh out how much time you can dedicate to the care.

Here are some eye-catching low maintenance options:

  • Snake Plant – very low water and very low light
  • Ponytail Palm – very low water and bright light
  • Pothos – low water and medium light
  • Zeezee Plant – very low water and very low light
  • Dracaena – low water and bright light
  • Jade Plant – very low water and bright light
  • Heartleaf Philodendron – low water and medium light
  • English Ivy – medium water and low light
  • Arrowhead Vine – low water and low light


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