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GREEN THUMB

GREEN THUMB

Green Thumb

Turn your indoor living space into a living plant sanctuary.

You spend a lot of time indoors. Sure, everyone wishes they could slip outside at frequent intervals, but the reality is that we spend the bulk of our days trapped within four walls. Nothing wrong with that—except when nature deprivation takes its toll. The withdrawal symptoms start with a nebulous frown and can move into a deep blue funk. But there is a remedy. Bring in some plants, and it’s like a breath of fresh air—literally.

Several studies have been launched to discern whether plants can improve our sense of wellbeing, and the data coming in strongly supports houseplants as a way to boost your morale. In fact, it turns out that houseplants are warriors working on your behalf to reduce a whole lot of woes ranging from dust to depression.

Maybe you thought that hosting plants in your living and occupational settings was nothing more than a designer move to uplift the décor. Absolutely, a few thoughtfully displayed plants can transform a room from yawn to atmospheric. Well-tended plants perk up a space, and that alone is worth a plant’s weight in potting soil. They can be bold architectural elements or softening textural features that lend a sense of calm to any interior.

But beyond beauty, it turns out that houseplants might have the ability to improve your health, boost productivity, make you more creative and even ward off an itchy throat. Some of those benefits might be due to the heightened atmospheric humidity that happens while delivering drinks to thirsty houseplants. But other perks result when you behold something living and growing in your midst. Studies show that just being in the presence of green elevates your sense of euphoria.

Whether it’s a bristly cactus or herbs perfuming your cooking, having plants nearby puts a positive spin on living and work spaces. If adding humidity is the goal, then heavy drinking plants are the way to go, plus watering is a good way to maximize positive encounters of the green kind.

Plants might also make your home a safer place. Although everyone agrees that indoor plants can reduce carbon dioxide simply by going about their daily functions, the extent to which plants cut down on toxic chemicals is still under study. Some scientists have found that huge numbers of plants might be required to effectively reduce toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene and hexane in a practical setting. But everyone agrees that green is a step in the right direction and cannot hurt—as long as you select plants that are nontoxic if ingested by children or pets.

How do you go about getting your daily dose of green? Fortunately, bringing botany into your home or office cubicle has never been easier. Sun-loving plants should take up residence in a south-facing exposure while shade-lovers can be stationed in an east- or west-facing window. Use a water-tight plant tray and a cork trivet underneath to protect furniture. Rotate your plant weekly, especially in winter when light levels are low. Or try a terrarium if tropical, shade-loving plants are your preference.

No windows? No problem. All sorts of units are currently on the market to streamline indoor gardening. Gardener’s Supply Company (gardeners.com) sells handsome full-spectrum LED units that are freestanding or can be mounted on a wall. Some units have adjustable light panels to accommodate plants of different heights. Unlike the cumbersome, bulky plant stands of yesteryear, these fixtures are handsome additions to your décor.

Want to grow your own edibles? Gardener’s Supply Company also has a mobile salad garden that fits an indoor mini-farm into a cart on wheels so you can nibble wherever, whenever you happen to feel the urge. Or if you hunger for the Rolls-Royce of all indoor growing systems, consider a Chef’s EcoWall Garden (greenecowalls.com), which provides a vertical hydroponic and light system in your kitchen space with a truly swank shelf system. EcoWalls also offers modular vertical plant growing systems for wannabee home-based horticulturists. Stack these units against a wall, and you can be a social climber of the green kind.

So you have no excuse. Make your home or cubicle the envy of everyone. - Tovah Martin

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