“Houseplanted” Home May be Healthier

11/23/2012 | Ken Lain, mountain gardener Houseplants, Uncategorized

Beginning this week the city of Prescott will pick up our used cut Christmas trees. I will be setting our tree by the curb on Monday so it can be chipped and recycled as top dressing in this spring’s landscapes. This is a good recycling move but, in the living room that just a couple of weeks ago was filled with beautiful green foliage, it leaves a big empty space. It also seems to leave us with a bit of a “let down” feeling.

I always have found that a few strategically placed houseplants brought home in January make me feel better and lift my spirits. Well, there is new research that substantiates why we feel better when plants are in our homes. Before I share some of that interesting info, I must tell you something I’ve learned over the decades of owning a garden center.

Without question, the single most important aspect to business success has been our employees. I only hire people-loving folks that happen to know something about plants. I can always teach someone about plants, but teaching a new hire, who is more plant nerd than people lover, to reach out to customers is next to impossible. That said, let me introduce you to Dawn.

Dawn is my houseplant buyer who loves, loves, loves to talk to people, especially about houseplants. She just had the most unusual delivery of houseplants in years and was almost giddy about the different species and how we should take care of them. Did you know that carnivorous plants don’t really like hamburger meat, but much prefer to eat LIVE insects? Learning that, some gnat- ridden homes came to mind where a Venus flytrap would be the perfect natural solution to that problem.

Dawn knows so much about houseplants yet is always searching for more ways to help local gardeners. She has just completed research on a new study conducted jointly by NASA and produce supplier Dole Foods and has been quoting from pages of newly uncovered facts.

Here are a few:

The side effects of more plants in the home, especially during the gray days of winter, are that people are calmed, become more optimistic, and experience reduced fatigue and fewer cold symptoms.

Plants reduce dust and increase humidity levels. Peace lilies specifically reduce mold spores by 60%. I suspect ferns have the same properties and, as both plants like low light, they would be good to put in bathrooms where molds and mildews naturally occur.

In one study, air quality was greatly improved when 15 to 18 good-sized plants were placed in a home. The plants removed 87% of the toxins, and they did it in just 24 hours! For optimum air detoxification by indoor plants, use one good-sized plant per 100 square feet of home. This will reduce airborne pollutants like carbon dioxide, fungi, bacteria, and spores. Who needs a fancy mechanical air purifier when we can use what God intended all along . . . plants.

Personally, being interested in flower colors and how they affect people’s moods and abilities, I was struck by the fact that purple flowers stimulate the release of energy hormones like adrenalin that improve the brain’s creativity powers. Possibly that’s why purple African Violets outsell all other colors at the garden center.
Dawn is so interesting that I’ve invited her to be a guest on my radio show ‘The Mountain Gardener’. To hear more of her houseplant wisdom tune in this Saturday from 11:00 am to noon at KQNA 99.9 FM or 1130 AM.

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Gardening Classes: Each spring I hold a series of free gardening classes every Saturday here at the garden center. The first hour-long class will be January 22 at 9:30 in the morning. We start this season with ‘Landscape Pruning 101’, followed by ‘Wildflowers Unleashed’. February 5th I will conduct last spring’s second most popular class, ‘Gardening for Newcomers’. (For those curious minds that want to know, my most popular class was ‘Grow Bigger Tomatoes & Better Veggies’; there were over 100 folks in attendance.)

Check this year’s class schedule on my web site at www.wattersonline.com and look for the ‘Classes for the Taking’ link. Facebook users can find the class listing on my garden center page under the events tab. Please do me a favor and become a fan. I am looking for 1000 Facebook users to become fans before spring.

Until next week, I’ll see you at the garden center.