April 1, 2020
April is National Garden Month
Vibrant wildflowers in bloomSource: Flowers 27 | Penelope Peru Photography
Wake up and smell the roses… Then quickly retreat back into your house.
April is National Garden Month, and although most of us are quietly abiding by the international advice to stay home, you can still get your green thumbs going within the comfort of your humble abode.
A Bit of Context…
National Garden Week was initiated in 1987 under the Reagan administration. In 2002, the National Garden Association extended the week to a month-long celebration of horticulture, according to the National Garden Month website.
Blooming Despite Social Distancing
Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to cut yourself off from nature – you just have to cut yourself off from your friends! And let’s face it, plants make much better friends than humans, anyways.
“Gardening during a pandemic is for everyone, regardless of whether you live in an apartment or on a 100-acre ranch,” The National Garden Association says.
“Gardening also gets you out in the fresh air (while respecting social distancing), adds positive energy into your life, gives you something fun to do, and gives a new activity that the whole family can participate in.”
Furthermore, The National Garden Association offers free e-books on how to get started with growing food in your own yard, adding, “Many popular vegetables don’t use a lot of space and can be grown in the same place where you traditionally grow flowers and shrubs. Any available spot is a place where you can put a tomato, pepper, lettuce, spinach, onion, etc.”
You can also find out what plants would grow best in your location via the 2012 USDA Hardiness Zone Map. Their site allows you to click on your state, enter your zip, and zam – you know your hardiness zone in a flash!
2012 USDA Hardiness Map of the United StatesSource: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map | USDA
A little greenery can go a long way in livening up your living space, especially considering we’ll all be cooped up indoors for a while.
Aesthetic aside, various studies have demonstrated the powerful positive impact nature has on physical and mental wellness.
In a 2017 Environmental Health Perspectives review, researchers found exposure to nature leads to reduced stress, better sleep, improved mental health, greater happiness and life satisfaction, reduced aggression, lowered blood pressure, and improved immune function, to name a few benefits.
Houseplants can also purify your airspace. In a 1989 NASA study, researchers found common houseplants including gerbera daisies, English ivy, peace lilies, and bamboo removed a very significant amount of certain toxins in just 24 hours.
Needless to say, gardening is great for your overall wellbeing. However, throwing houseplants about all willy-nilly without taking the time to do a little research first will leave you discouraged when your plants don’t reward you with bountiful blooms. Or worse, if the neglect causes your plants to wither away in a dark, forgotten corner of your home.
Know Your Space
First, evaluate the space in your home and identify where you’d like to place your plants.
The direction your window is facing dictates how much sunlight your plants will be exposed to throughout the day.
- North facing windows will receive the least amount of sunlight and the least intense sunlight, limiting your options to a “small selection of house plants,” says a blog post by Fifth Season Gardening.
- East facing windows will receive less intense sunlight, which is ideal for many medium to low-light plants.
- South facing windows will receive the strongest and longest amount of sunlight throughout the day. If you find some of your plants are getting a little too much light, you can simply move them to the side or back them away from the window a bit.
- West facing windows will receive long periods of sunlight, but “usually miss the hottest most intense part of the day, which can damage some plants with medium light requirements,” Fifth Season Gardening says.
If your space doesn’t have the most abundant natural lighting, don’t fret. You can invest in grow lights, or you can opt for a plant that’ll thrive in low-light conditions, like philodendrons, pink lanterns, cape primroses, or begonias.
Our favorite houseplants are African violets, which are known to do well in partial shade (although we’ve found our African violets in a southwest-facing window tend to bloom sooner and more frequently than the ones in a southeast-facing window).
African Violets can be tricky for some but come in a wide variety of cultivars with different colored and shaped blooms as well as leaves. They’re a very rewarding houseplant that’s easy to propagate, but they do best in more humid environments, which brings us to our next point.
White and purple African Violets blooming in a southwest facing windowSource: A Glimpse into the Garden 04 | Penelope Peru Photography
Know Your Humidity
Once the initial hype associated with starting your indoor garden dies down, how likely are you to forget about plants?
Hey, no judgment, it happens to the best of us. But, if you’re one to forget to water your little green friends and need houseplants that are a bit more low-maintenance, succulents are your go-to.
Succulents are hardy, drought resistant, and have adorable, plump leaves. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a couple cacti, either – just be careful!
A bear paw succulent growing in a mugSource: Bear Paw Succulent | Penelope Peru Photography
Getting your hands dirty with a little indoor gardening can keep you grounded, motivated, and positively distracted amidst the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.
If you’re unsure of where to buy plants to get started, The National Garden Association has a list of e-commerce vendors that are endorsed by their members.
Stay healthy, stay safe, and go green!
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