The continuous cold temperatures have finally settled into our North Country. We were all wondering when it would arrive. Pictorially the highest amount of snowfall greets us this month along with the intermittent ice and rain events. I break into my February hibernation mode, spending time catching up in my office. So of course I am lamenting my inability to open my windows and breathe in some good fresh air. For one who is accustomed to being outdoors most of my waking hours during the growing season, this is a real physical and psychological challenge. i just don’t feel as healthy.
So I got to thinking about what I learned back in my 7th grade science class with Miss Geiger. She introduced me to plants and their living processes. Suddenly words like photosynthesis, oxygen release and carbon dioxide came to mind. I realized I had forgotten basic principles of plant growing systems and how they could positively impact my winter indoor time. For North Country Gardeners, this could be a healthy discussion to get us through these final winter months.
Many discussions on indoor house plants focus on the visual benefits of the greenery. Indeed that would be the first logical benefit to explore. Adding a variety of texture, shape and color to your interior space can warm, greet and soothe one during the bare winter months. But if we think back to our 7th grade science class, we realize these organisms can interact with your body, mind and home in ways that can enhance the quality of your winter indoor living.
I experience this interaction first hand when visiting my favorite tropical plant greenhouse at Dehns Flowers and Greenhouses over the winter months. Immediately I feel my energy and psyche elevated in the moist, oxygen filled air of this environment. It makes you want to sit and reflect for a while. While many of us cannot create an arboretum in our homes…you can create a personalized space that can provide you with benefits. I choose to concentrate my indoor plants in a small western exposure room in my home where I spend many winter hours reading,studying.and taking in old movies on TCM.
Indoor plants are a great way to balance the quality of your home environment. Photosynthesis, that 7th grade science vocabulary word, you may recall, is a plant process whereby light is used within the plant leaves that absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Our bodies take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, therefore plants and people become natural partners! Adding plants to our closed interior spaces can increase the oxygen levels.
Consider also the general dryness we experience in our winter sealed interior air. Heating systems often suck the moisture out of our homes during the winter months. The living system of houseplants namely photosynthesis and respiration, can actually increase the humidity of a room. Research tells us that 97 percent of the water they take in is released back into the air. A study at the University of Norway suggests that using plants in interior spaces decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs.
We all talk about the environmental benefits that gardening returns to Mother Earth during our glorious growing seasons. Now take that same thought, and begin to apply this to your indoor living environment. Winters can be long here in the North Country, so consider these 5 months indoors”healthier” with houseplants.
Next blog: How to use houseplants for a healthier indoors
Arbitrary Amaryllis Update: I am now into week 4 of my blooming Amaryllis and will inevitably have another flower pop within the next week or so. This stunning, long lasting bloom has really performed this winter. Not too many indoor plants can boast this lengthy bloom time and show!