They say that having plants can make you happier. Where the research isn’t exact, I can say I find it to be true. Especially after going through the MSUE (Michigan State University Extension) Master Gardener Program. Before this program I was continually wondering why I didn’t have a green thumb. Turns out you don’t need to have a green thumb to take care of plants. You just need a little science.
Now that I have a better understanding of plants, soil health, and diseases it feels easier to take care of my babies. As a soon to be Master Gardener (working on my forty hours of community service to be certified) I feel like it’s my duty to help everyone take care of their babies as well.
The best part about any info I give, or Kay gives, or ANY MSUE Master Gardener gives is that it will be science-based, AND environmentally friendly. (I’m totally geekin’ out over here, and I love it!)
Let’s get into it.
Plants may have the ability to make us happy (or stressed if we keep killing them, amiright?!). Especially for those who may live alone, may not have any children or fur babies. Plants give us something to take care of; something to love. Bonus: they may have the ability to help with anxiety, depression, and stress.
According to NASA some plants have the ability to remove most toxic fumes from the home. Air quality decreases in my home (and your home) due to the windows being closed all season. In fact, an average home that includes fifteen plants has significantly improved air quality. (Gretchen Voyle-MSU Extension) So, the more plants, the better!
I have to admit: I’ve been going a tiny bit overboard with buying plants, and I definitely plan on buying more in the near future. This is what my instructors would call CHAD (Compulsive Horticulture Acquisition Disorder). I want all of the babies and I want them NOW! I’m good with having CHAD, particularly if it means I’m improving the air quality in my home.
I plan to add more clean air plants around the house in hanging baskets, as well as in the shower/bathroom. Plants also have the ability to give off moisture through transpiration (release of water too cool off the plant)- making them a natural humidifier for those winter months!
So basically: winter calls for more plants in the house. It’s a huge win.
Winter also means we have plenty of water for our babies. In the form of snow! Schweeeet. Let the snow melt down and get to room temperature before giving it to your plants. Also, gather the snow that’s further away from anywhere salt was laid.
Using melted snow will:
*be a total zero waste win!
*be better for your plants- using tap water (whether it’s well or city) can give your plants too much salt, iron, etc. Eventually killing your plant.
***For HOW to water, see ‘Containers’ below.
When I fist started taking care of indoor plants, I figured I could use any soil, never fertilize it and my plants would flourish. Boy howdy was I wrong. I’m not going to go too deep here, but I do have a few suggestions I would like you to keep in mind when it comes to your babies and their soil needs.
- Not all soil is created equal. The garden center you bought your plants from may use the same soil for everything…but it may not be the best for all plants all the time.
- Know your plants and their fertilizing needs.
- Give your plants a break during the winter (if suggested for that plant) and leave the fertilizer on the shelf.
- Succulents love well-draining soil. Equal parts sand, garden soil, and vermiculite (Gretchen Voyle, MSU Extension) will do the trick.
- Orchids do not like wet feet (roots). Fir tree bark or osmunda fiber (Gretchen Voyle, MSU Extension) works best for them. *side note* I have mine in regular potting soil right now, and she is not as happy as she could be. Time to get to the garden center and make a mix for my love.
This is where I get super excited. I recently purchased indoor grow lights. They are pink and wonderful. I can tell already that my plants, especially the tropical plants, are happy babies! The reason I got the lights is because not enough light comes through our windows.. So, when I start my seeds they get leggy reaching for the light. One thing I didn’t really think about, though, is the fact that I need to clean the windows! I used to think, “what’s the point? They are just going to get dirty again!” HA! Duh, Jamma, light doesn’t go through dirt, ya goon. SO, clean your windows, inside and out, to maximize the amount of natural light that comes through.
I’ve been turning my lights on for my babies in the morning before the sun comes out, and then when it goes down I’ll turn them off. It cracks me up leaving my house in the morning because I’m sure my neighbors think I’m ‘growing’ if you know what I mean.
If you can drill a few holes in it (or in my case, ask the hubby to) just about anything can become a container for you plants. If you don’t want to drill holes in your pretty container, you can also use a separate container to set inside of it. **If you have a separate container inside your pretty one, make sure to let all of the water drain completely before putting it back in. We don’t want to cause root rot because there’s water left in the bottom. (African violets are an exception to this rule- because their leaves are sensitive to water they prefer to sit in water and soak from the bottom up.)
Drainage is important! When you water your babies keep adding water until it starts seeping out of the bottom. Then, do it again. This is how you know your plants has had plenty. It’s also the best way to remove any extra salts that are in the soil and keep the roots healthy. When we water our plants to just wet the surface salts get trapped, damaging them. This can also cause root rot.
Don’t want to deal with soil?!
Air plants for the WIN!
Isn’t she lovely?! These are so easy to take care of, and require no soil. They literally get the moisture they need from the air. The little white hairy looking stuff is called trichomes, which is what helps them absorb water from the air. You can spray them with some water every now and again, and then soak them once a week for ten to twenty minutes. Easy peezy lemon squeezy. (Stay weird, folks.)
I have a few in my bathroom that are SO happy. I never have to soak them because they are already so happy with the amount of moisture they have.
Shameless plug time
My cousin, Kelsey, is the reason I fell in love with air plants. She’s a creative, glass blowing genius and has made GORGEOUS little holders for my air plant babies (see above photo). You can hang them around your house to look like a jellyfish, or let them sit in their happy homes.
Not only does Kelsey make these cool jellyfish guys, she also works alongside her talented boyfriend, Mike, making other works of mind-blowing art. You can find their Etsy shop HERE, as well under the photos of Kelsey’s work.
Also, you can follow them on Instagram! @theglasskels & @shredzglass and the Facebooks.
*side note* If you have a kitty that loves to play…keep them up and away. I’ve already lost two babies because of my crazy Fibonacci.
If you ever have a plant question, don’t hesitate to ask either myself or Kay. While we aren’t exactly professionals, we will do our best to answer any questions you may have. We also have plenty of resources to help guide your way.
I pray you find yourself saying, “YES I CAN” when it comes to having indoor plants. And I hope they help quell those winter blues.
Share your plants with us! You can find us on FaceBook– you can also find us on Instagram @sixteenhens