Caring for your plants – and yourself

In the coronavirus crisis, tending the plants in your home and gardens takes on new meaning.

As home becomes our refuge during the COVID-19 crisis, we have both a lot of stress and time on our hands. Caring for the plants in your home and gardens takes on new meaning.  Most of us are used to rushing past a wilting plant that needs water on our way to work, the gym or socializing with friends and then lamenting how poorly it’s doing.  Now is the time to care for our plants and gardens and they will give back to you with lush growth and beautiful blossoms. They can clean your air, while their growth and flowering brings a smile to our face.

Though easier than caring for a pet, plants still need time and consideration. Caring for plants requires finding the correct lighting in your home. If your home is dark, you can always boost plant growth with grow lights, which are great for apartment dwellers. When our younger son moved into New York city he missed working in our gardens in Westchester County. He loved planting everything from bulbs to perennials and setting up the hummingbird feeders. Once in the city, he immediately brought a couple of his houseplants with him, then started bringing in some new ones.  He researched plants that were healthy for apartment dwellers and bought them along with some mid-century modern decorative pots to plant them in.  He also found that many plant shops would transplant them into containers free of charge as long as you bought the plants and containers from them.

Figuring out how much light your plants require and watering consistently is more than half the amount of work it will take to have healthy plants. Although I am not the best plant parent, I have figured out over the years plants that I do well with.  The top of my easy-to-care-for plants are cactuses and succulents, followed by orchids, African violets, Christmas cactuses and asparagus ferns.  There are many more plants that are easy to care for. These are just the ones that I have particular luck with. Now with extra time on my hands, I am going to try a few more that are a little more difficult to manage.

During the cold winter months many people force spring bulbs such as hyacinth, daffodils and tulips. They are a welcome sight and, once blooming, can brighten a coffee table or, eventually, a dinner party. I sometimes use potted spring plants as dinner party flower arrangements on my table and then transplant them outside in my gardens for a pretty show the following year. This works well with hyacinths, hydrangeas and daffodils. I was just out in my garden looking at the many spring bulbs popping up that are from years past, and their flowers brought a smile to my face.

Caring for your plants is also a great way to de-stress. Researching plants and plant care can be a great way to relax. It can also be a fun family activity that not only shows how important it is to care for the earth but a learning experience as you try different growth methods. If you like flowering gardens, the benefits are also immense for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. We always add flowers to our gardens to boost the arrival of these fellow flower fans. We have a lot of deer that we are constantly dealing with so we really don’t grow any vegetables, but vegetable gardens are also a fun experience for both adults and children alike. (See story on Page 28).

This is the time to turn lemons into lemonade. If you have to stay home, try to enjoy the time and put that extra time to good use. There are many online nurseries that will ship plants and seeds. I have already put my first order in and I’m looking forward to my spring planting.

Enjoy making your home a place of refuge, adding plants and flowers to both your home and garden. You may find that you actually relax.

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