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The Importance of Green in Urban Times

The Importance of Green in Urban Times

Lauren Routt, April 29, 2021

As I write this article, we are over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of where you live, chances are, your life has been directly impacted by COVID-related restrictions and the worry of COVID affecting your family and loved ones. 

The past year has taken its toll on a lot of people’s mental health and wellbeing. The term “pandemic fatigue” has become a buzzword describing the tiredness, exhaustion and overall feeling of “I didn’t do anything today, yet I am completely drained of energy and motivation.” 

It’s with good reason that house plants and gardening have become one of the most popular hobbies since COVID-19 entered our lives.

The benefits of bringing house plants into your home go well beyond their scientifically proven air-purifying qualities. Let’s review some of the important ways adding green plants may improve your mental and physical health.

 

Proven benefits of plants inside the home: 

 

  • Cleaner indoor air quality. 
    • NASA conducted a clean air study and found that not only do plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis. Several common house plants naturally remove air pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. The study found the best air cleaning results were achieved with at least one plant per 100 square feet of space. (Doesn’t this information make you want to run out and buy more plants?!) 
  • Reduce stress. 
  • Home decor that never goes out of style. 
    • Adding indoor plants to any home environment, creates depth, interesting lines, color and texture. Plants are in truth an interior decorator’s dream accent piece. Bringing a part of nature inside is in line with most home decor styles and has been for decades. 
    • Just think of all the amazing plant-related home decor at Decocrated. A home filled with items from the Decocrated members-only shop is a home filled with love, I think that’s how the saying goes?! 
  • Improve healing and rehabilitation. 
    • The relationship between plants and people is being used to help patients heal quicker from physical pain and mental and emotional trauma. The ancient practice is called Horticultural Therapy and it uses the connection between humans and nature to promote healing and rehabilitation. 
  • Increase productivity and attention span. 
    • Studies found increased productivity of up to 15% when workers were surrounded by plants vs. sitting in an otherwise bare office environment. Another study found college students to have longer attention spans when performing cognitively demanding tasks in office spaces with green plants. This study was published by the Journal of Environmental Psychology

 

We can certainly agree that plants and indoor greenery is good for the soul and it definitely improves our home decorating abilities. But how do we create a tropical paradise when we live far from equator, or a desert landscape full of cacti and succulents, when we live among skyscrapers?! Are we “stuck” with plants indigenous to our area? 

The answer is a resounding “NO!” and that is the beauty of indoor plants. You can create the plant-scape of your dreams, regardless of where you live. My husband recently looked at me from across the living room, shaking his head. “Honey, seriously, I am so confused. Are we in the Pacific North West or in a tropical jungle?” 

“That’s one of the nicest things you’ve ever said about our home decor” I replied with a big cheesy smile on my face. 

You see, we DO live in the rainiest part of the Pacific North West. You may have heard that it rains a lot in Seattle?! Well, we live 30 miles east of Seattle, in the valley of a mountain range and apparently this is exactly where clouds go to dump ALL their rain. Seattle’s rainfall pales in comparison to ours. 

So even when it’s gray and gloomy outside, our indoor-living space always resembles a tropical paradise, sprinkled with the occasional desert-loving succulent. 

Regardless of whether you live in an urban loft, a high-rise condo, a ranch-style house in suburbia, work in a cubical or have a big corner office, chances are your indoor environment can improve simply by adding a little greenery.

The basic needs of plants: 

 

Plants have few basic needs: water, light, humidity, soil and fertilizer. 

Getting the lighting JUST right becomes MUCH easier once you break out a compass. You heard me right, all you need is a compass - and no, I realize you aren’t Lewis and Clark, but chances are you have a compass on your smart phone! 

Follow these light guidelines when figuring out where to place your plants, and I am sure you will see a big improvement in your plants’ happiness. (Please note, these tips only apply in the Northern Hemisphere.) 

Not all window light is created equal, which is something that came as a big surprise to me when I first started filling our house with potted plants. 

  • South-facing windows: The light from these windows are like sun-light on steroids, they have the strongest light intensity due to the southern east-to-west arc the sun follows across the sky. This is the best window for sun-seeking succulents and other light needy plants. 
  • North-facing windows: The light from these windows have the weakest intensity. These windows tend to be best for shade-loving plants during the summer months. And depending on their light, they may be too dark for plants all together in the winter months. 
  • East-facing windows: The light from these windows can be bright, but not quite as strong and intense as the south-facing windows, since they get the early morning sun. These windows are great for plants that need moderate sunlight. 
  • West-facing windows: The light from these windows is relatively strong, especially in the summer months. This afternoon and evening sun is great for plants with high light-needs. 

Based on your windows’ orientation, you may very well be able to have a successful succulent collection, indoor herb garden or tropical paradise. 

These are some of the easiest plants to grow in each category, to get you started on your dream indoor plant world. 

Indoor Herb Garden: 

I just bought these three blank and white planters from Decocrated to use for my in-door herb garden. 

Basil: This light-loving plant does well in South or West facing windows. It’s not a long-term house plant as the stems grow woodsy after a few weeks. This is a good plant to start from seeds and then sow a new batch every few weeks/ months, depending on your demand. 

Chives: This is another plant that will thrive in a South facing window. Chives are easiest to grow when bought as a young plant. Use it as frequently as needed by giving it a quick “trim”, allowing room for new fresh growth.

Mint: This fragrant trailing plant comes in many different varieties. The mint plant does best with moist soil and moderate sunlight. Snip off leaves or sprigs as needed and enjoy this as a hardy perennial house plant. 

Rosemary: Snip sprigs off this fragrant plant and watch new growth take over, almost in front of your eyes. This resilient plant does well outside, but also inside as a house plant. It thrives in light conditions, will tolerate heat and some drought in the summer, but prefers cooler temperatures in the winter. 

Thyme: With its trailing stems and tiny leaves, Thyme makes an adorable house plant. It  thrives in fast-draining soil in warm and sunny window sills. Strike a balance between watering when the soil is dry, but before it wilts. 

Easy Succulents: 

 

I have used the two-tier tray from the Decocrated Summer 2020 box quite often for my succulents. I also have a succulent growing in the golden hexagon planter right now!

My best tips for succulent success are fairly simple: use gritty soil, give them lots of light (south facing windows are best) and water SPARINGLY. Let the plants tell you when they are thirsty. Succulents thrive on a bit of neglect. 

Zebra Haworthia: This plant looks a lot like an aloe, except for its stripes. It does NOT require a lot of sunlight or water. True story: it is SO easy to care for that I thought mine was a fake plant! I broke a piece off a leaf to make sure it was real. Great starter succulent! 

Echeveria: This is another great beginner succulent plant. Place it in a sunny window and forget about it for a while, give it water and then forget about it again. They may reward you with stunning flowers. 

Panda Plant (Kalenchoe Tomentosa): This fuzzy plant reminds me of a teddy bear. It thrives on indirect sunlight and the occasional watering. You can propagate it even from half leaves. Try breaking off a leaf and just leave it in the soil next to the plant, watch what happens!

Snake Plant: This popular houseplant is actually a succulent. It does not require a lot of light, which makes it a perfect plant companion for an office. Water it when the top soil is dry, otherwise simply whisper sweet-nothings to it once in a while and it will reward you with lots of plant babies over time. 

Aloe Vera: The Aloe Vera plant comes in handy when there’s a sunburn or other minor skin irritation. This plant makes for another great starter-succulent if you give it a bright home, even artificial light will do and then try to remember to water it every 2-3 weeks. 

Easy Tropical Plants: 

These four glass hanging vases are perfect for propagating plants, which is a great (inexpensive) way to expand your plant inventory without breaking the bank. 

Bromeliads: These beautiful plants come in a wide variety of colors and textures. Bromeliads love bright indirect light. Pot them in a fast-draining potting soil and be sure to water weekly, but don’t let them sit in water. 

Ponytail Palm: OK, so I cheated here. This plant is actually a succulent, but I added it in the tropical section because we all think of palm trees as tropical plants. This unique plant grows best in full sun, but it will tolerate bright indirect light. Do not overwater this one, as it’s bulbous trunk is actually a reservoir of water. 

Parlor Palm: These tall beauties are happy with regular indoor lighting, even artificial light. You may need to adjust the humidity in the winter if your indoor air is dry, but otherwise it’s low-maintenance. Keep it’s soil slightly moist and you have yourself a healthy indoor palm tree. 

Schefflera, commonly known as “Umbrella Plant”: This tropical beauty likes bright indirect light, regular waterings with the occasional misting in the summer months, less so in the winter. It thrives in well-draining loose soil. 

Birds of Paradise: Strikingly beautiful flowers on this tall tropical plant make it a favorite among tropical plant enthusiasts. This plant loves to be fertilized weekly and kept in a tight pot. It prefers bright light with SOME direct sun, so a West facing window will do well. It prefers moist soil. It will reward you with lots of growth, although it may take 3-5 years before it’s first flowers. They are worth the wait!

One you have your indoor green plants cape created, it’s time to up your home decor game with pots and planters that fit your personal style. 

I find something in every Decocrated box fit for my plant collection and I am sure you will too. I recently shipping in the Decocrated Shop for new and creative planters, go check them out for yourself. 

But be warned: you will want more planters for your plants. Then you need more plants for all those cute planters and yeah, it’s a cycle and I am definitely stuck in it. Come join me! 

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