It’s that time of the year when working in the garden is not at its most appealing. Yes, there are those crisp sunny days which beckon us to leave our centrally-heated sitting rooms or air-conditioned offices to take a brisk walk in the open air, but the earth in our gardens remains wet and clogged, demanding weightlifters’ arms to wield a spade and dig a planting hole. This could be the perfect time, then, to review the greenery in our homes and offices.
Indoor plants are great decorative features, bringing the outside inside. They soften the edges of shelves and pieces of furniture, and bring life and colour to otherwise static spaces. With a huge range of sizes, colours and textures available, they can be seamlessly incorporated into any interior decoration style, if potted up nicely, placed correctly and cared for effectively. Plants that grow huge in their more tropical habitats and are rarely seen in our UK gardens can also make a fabulous addition to our homes and workplaces, in a more manageable size.
If they’re cared for correctly, house plants will thrive. Situated on a bright and airy windowsill or surface, and kept out of direct sunlight, most plants will live for many years.Placement is crucial – too much sunlight and they will burn, too little light and they will sicken. Be wary, too, of giving houseplants too much water – this is a well-meaning gesture,but is just as bad for plants as not giving them enough to drink. Finally, be sure to re-pot your houseplants if they become overcrowded – just like people, plants need enough space to stretch out comfortably, and if their roots are too cramped in a small pot they will suffer.
As we care for these living organisms and interact with them in a tangible way we commune with nature whilst enhancing our surroundings. The biodiversity of the leaf markings alone could fill the pages of an artist’s sketchbook. Leaves are not confined to green but come in a variety of earthy shades including brown, red and yellow. Some plants will never flower in the fluctuating temperatures of our confined spaces,but those that do will reward us with a mesmerising array of colour and shape, some subtly showing themselves whilst others explode with flamboyance.
And there is another compelling reason for growing plants indoors. There is increasing evidence that plants contribute to our health and well-being. The numerous scientific studies done on this subject indicate that by removing toxins and impurities from the air and transforming them into oxygen, houseplants help us to breathe more easily, whilst moisture released from plants keeps the air in our interior spaces humid, which helps to reduce respiratory diseases and dry skin. And it may not just be physical health that is enhanced. Research suggests that psychological well-being may also be improved. Reduced stress levels and greater work productivity are just two of the benefits being investigated. Put simply, growing plants indoors ‘makes us happier’.