It’s Your Plant — Appreciate It

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Orchids as Houseplants

Happy Houseplant Appreciation Day!

Okay, so as holidays go it doesn’t really compare with the season we just left behind. But houseplants aren’t just nice to look at – they clean the air by removing airborne pollutants and producing oxygen. They can lessen headaches, decrease dust, and even help fight the common cold. Houseplants also act as humidifiers, relieve congestion, reduce stress, and help you think.

In honor of Houseplant Appreciation Day, why not get a new plant for your apartment? It doesn’t take much to appreciate your new plant – just water, a little fertilizer, and some natural light. Here are some great plants to choose from:

Aloe – When I was a kid living in Florida, this was my mom’s go-to sunburn remedy. I spent a lot of time with strips of aloe on my shoulders and it works great. Aloe makes a great houseplant because it doesn’t like direct sun and it doesn’t need a lot of water. If you get an aloe plant, water it more frequently in the summer (whenever the soil becomes dry). From September to March, just add a little water here and there to keep the leaves plump. If you have a pet, aloe can be toxic – be sure to check the ASPCA’s list of plants that can harm your pet before you bring a new plant home.

Viola – Some houseplants can actually wind up on your dinner plate, such as the viola. The flowers can be added to salads, teas, and desserts. The leaves are loaded with vitamin C. If you buy a plant you intend to consume (including herbs such as basil, oregano, and parsley), be sure to grow them safely – don’t add chemicals or pesticides. 

Bromeliads – This hardy plant looks great even without its colorful bloom – the sculpted leaves have an exotic look to them. A bromeliad is a great houseplant for people who have never tried to grow anything – they are tough, apartment-friendly plants and are very easy to care for. Put it near a window that doesn’t get direct sunlight then just keep the center “cup” filled with water. That’s it. No guessing, no sticking your finger in the soil and wondering if it is damp enough, no need to fertilize. If you take good care of your bromeliad, it will reward you with a little “pup” plant. When you see this new little plant, dig it up and place it in its own pot.

Orchids – If you are up for something a little more challenging, purchase a gorgeous orchid. There are many types of orchids and this plant has a wide variety of uses. Vanilla comes from a specific orchid that grows mainly in the tropics. Another type of orchid is used in Turkey as a powdered spice called salep, which is considered an aphrodisiac. Another kind of orchid is used to flavor rum, and China has used orchids in herbal remedies since 2800 BC. The type of orchid you’ll bring home to your apartment, however, is there to smell pretty and look beautiful. Consider your orchid a stress-reliever and air-purifier. Orchids are fun to grow – spray them often with water to keep them well misted, water them as necessary, and be sure they have plenty of indirect sunlight.