By Casey Smith, Naturalist (aka brown thumb)
Think about the houseplant you’ve owned the longest. How old is it? My husband has several cactus plants that are over 30 years old. He has a collection of 25 mature cactus and succulent plants. Some of these plants belonged to his grandmother. Others he ordered from mail in catalogs when he was in elementary school. My dear husband dotes on his plants.
A great migration occurs twice a year in our home. The collection of plants move from their winter basement quarters to the back patio after the danger of frost in spring. They spend the spring, summer, and early fall soaking up sun in their own protected corner of the patio. Their only worry is a stray kickball from the kids in the back yard. As fall progresses and sunlight dwindles, it’s time once again to migrate to their own protected corner of the basement. Some of these monsters weigh upwards of 60 pounds, but my husband still muscles them up and down the basement steps twice a year.
If you drove past our house on a winter night and saw the grow lights gleaming through the basement windows, you would think we were doing something illegal. In the corner behind our kitchen sink we also keep a Norfolk Island Pine, some orchids, an African violet that my husband grew from a single leaf, and the odd cutting from a plant my husband will most certainly grow into something big and beautiful. There are plenty of people like my husband. I am not one of those people. My history with keeping house plants ended in college when I knocked my cactus behind my dorm room fridge, didn’t realize it was missing, and found it while moving out at the end of the school year. My thumb is anything but green.
There are plenty of health benefits to keeping plants. Having a plant in your office leads to an increase in productivity and creativity. Plants can help clean the air in your home and increase humidity levels. Taking care of indoor plants can help lower your blood pressure and increase energy levels. And studies show that keeping houseplants helps fight seasonal depression. All of these things can help when it’s dark at 5pm and we’re forced to stay in our homes anyway due to a global pandemic.
What kind of plant you should get depends on the amount of light in your house, and how much you are willing to water it. Some plants are more needy than others, and some require less light and not much water. Doing your research on indoor plants and how to care for them is a good idea before committing to keeping one in your home. I’m lucky enough to have someone in my life who keeps plants in my house year round.
While keeping plants is a great way to boost your mood, it’s not a cure for depression. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please reach out for professional help.