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Bring the Outdoors Inside

I adore having a fresh bouquet of flowers sitting on the kitchen table.  The pop of color, fresh fragrance and the feel of having something alive in the house always puts me at ease.  I've abandoned my long held notion that such bouquets are only for special occasions and have designated them as a more frequent "just because" little luxury.

photo by: Allie Harrington Photography

Alas, the fatal flaw with such bouquets is their brevity and I am always a bit morose when I see the first signs of wilt.  My beloved better half has long been a fan of houseplants and has slowly and patiently waited for me to catch up (almost there honey!).  While houseplants are not always as vibrant and colorful as bouquets they have several charming advantages.

 photo credit: Dorling Kindersley

First, they last much longer than the week or so you get from a bouquet; even with my "not so" green thumb.  Most houseplants can live for years if given the appropriate light, humidity, water and nutrients.  In fact, the Eastern Cape giant cycad (Encephalartos altensteinii) below has reportedly been growing in greenhouses at Kew Gardens since 1775.

Second, houseplants require a bit of nurturing.  I find a lot of fulfillment in the regular care I give our houseplants.  While I only spend five to ten minutes a week watering and "checking in" on the plants it gives me an opportunity to slow down a bit, to notice any new sprouts or leaves and to be reminded that such growth comes slowly and with much patience.  I'm a big fan of the Snake Plant family, below are a few varieties.


Finally, indoor plants are great for purifying the air in your house.  We don't often think of the air inside our homes as being toxic but the truth is the air in our living room or our office at work are likely filled with chemicals that may be harmful.  These contaminants come from the commercial cleaners and air fresheners we use as well as items we purchase made of plastic, covered in varnishes or flame retardants and held together by various resins and glues.  These inevitably off gas leaving the air in our home or workplace scattered with pollutants.  Not to worry though, for some house plants absorbing these toxins is kind of their superpower (we all have one you know).  NASA even did some research on this to better understand how to remove known pollutants from the air.  Below is a great image from that outlines common contaminants and the houseplants that help scrub them from the air.


If you decide to give houseplants a try, and you totally should, start simple.  Pick a hearty variety and put it somewhere that will catch your eye so you can watch it grow and know that the care you invest is being paid back in spades.