Houseplants 101: The Green Revolution

By Caryl Manning, Freelance Writer, Portland, OR

Houseplants are more popular than ever! While the world around us is seemingly becoming more and more urbanized, inside our homes there is a green revolution underway.

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Not only do houseplants have the ability to transform the look and feel of a space, they also have some pretty amazing health benefits.

Studies have shown that plants have an incredibly positive effect on our wellbeing. Just a touch of greenery can reduce stress in the office and offer some great therapeutic benefits in the home.

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In fact, adding just one plant to your indoor environment can:

  • Reduce carbon dioxide levels.      
  • Reduce airborne toxins and dust particles.
  • Regulate temperature.
  • Lower cortisol/stress levels.
  • Calm the mind by acting as a natural relaxant.

A life lived with plants will reconnect you with nature. They are your very own indoor companions that you can nurture, and watch grow and thrive. So, don’t be too surprised if you start developing an emotional attachment to your plants - it happens to the best of us.

Worried that you’ve been cursed with a black thumb, or concerned it all sounds just a bit too hard? – Don’t be! Here are some basic tips and tricks for making sure your leafy little buddies live long and happy lives.

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Tips and Tricks

All plants really need to survive (and thrive) is water, sunlight and a little love. While it really is that simple, a little too much or too little of these things can make your plant very sad so it’s important to always do a little research to get to know each individual plant’s likes and dislikes.

Light. Always make sure you choose a plant with the right light requirements for the space you have. If you ignore this then you and your new friend will definitely start things off on the wrong foot. For example, you can’t buy a bright indirect sunlight loving plant like a cactus, and stick it in a dark corner, and expect it to be happy. You will save yourself a lot of disappointment and money if you stick to this rule.

Water. All plants have different water and humidity requirements, so make sure you do a little research and find out how much your friend likes to drink. As a general rule of thumb with most houseplants (besides cacti and succulents), you can stick your thumb about an inch down into the soil and if it feels dry then you can give it a little water. For an even easier hack invest in a moisture meter. It’s basically a thermometer that reads moisture levels and is a great little tool to have because it takes all the guess work out of watering.

Cacti & succulents. These guys are hardy little plants with lots of personality. Given the right conditions they can make great houseplants but have some slightly different requirements to most of the others. They love a well-draining soil so always use cacti/succulent potting mix and make sure your planter has drainage holes to prevent root rot. They need a quick drink with a spray bottle about once a week in summer and a little less in winter. The easiest way to kill these guys is by over-watering so always err on the side of less water if you’re unsure. 

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Low Maintenance Friends

Maybe you’re a new plant parent or you’re always looking to expand the family. Either way here are some fairly low maintenance plants which will make great new additions to your home.

  • Philodendron
  • Fiddle leaf fig
  • Rubber plant
  • Monstera
  • Snake plant
  • Cacti and succulents
  • Spider plant
  • Peace lily
  • Chinese evergreen

Consider this a warning – plant addiction is a real thing people and it won’t be long before you’re waking up in your very own urban jungle. Just remember, if you take good care of your houseplants then they will take care of you.