The many advantages of indoor plants

When you add plants to your indoor spaces, you’re not just adding greenery and making your home more beautiful and attractive. Plants are living organisms that actually make homes and business interiors healthier.

Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, so they increase oxygen levels in the air. Indoor plants also remove toxins from air. According to a NASA study, plants can remove up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in indoor spaces every 24 hours.

But wait, there’s more. Researchers at Kansas State University found that adding potted plants in hospital rooms speeds up the recovery rates of surgical patients. And a study by Agricultural University of Norway found that sickness rates fell by more than 60 percent in offices with plants.

Plants really do make people feel better. Plus, indoor plants just seem to “warm up” indoor spaces. Here are some plants that can thrive indoors—along with a nifty way to keep container plants watered.

 

A rare flowering houseplant from Hawaii

Brighamia-insignis-web

If you’re looking for a colorful flowering houseplant that no one else in the neighborhood has, look no further than the Cabbage on a Stick Plant. This rare and endangered plant was found growing on the cliffs of Kauai, Hawaii. Seeds of this plant (botanical name Brighamia insignis) were carefully collected and lovingly grown by Native Plants of Maui.

The common name of this plant, Cabbage on a Stick, refers to the cabbage-like leaves that grow atop an unusual bulbous caudex. The plant also produces an abundance of fragrant flowers that start out white and mature to sunshine yellow. The sweet fragrance is reminiscent of honeysuckle. In the Hawaiian culture, this plant is used in weddings to bring good luck to the bride and groom. Cabbage on a Stick Plant makes a terrific indoor plant because it can tolerate the dryness of a home environment. A plant in a 4-inch pot sells for $39.95 from www.logees.com.

 

This sweet lime tree is a great container plant

Palestine-Lime-webLimes are well-loved for the tart flavor they give to beverages and the zest they bring to culinary dishes. (What’s a fish taco without the lime?) But sometimes that mouth-puckering lime taste is just a little overwhelming. That’s why the Palestine Sweet Lime is such a treat.

The sweet flavor of a Palestine Lime comes from the lack of acid found in the fruit. Palestine Limes are ripe when they turn a soft yellow (not green like other limes). When ripe, the refreshing sweet lime flavor needs no added sugar. A Palestine Lime is perfect straight off the tree or when squeezed into juice. It is also the perfect complement to tea, or when grated for zest in baked goods or Indian curry dishes.

When grown outdoors, a Palestine Sweet Lime tree is cold hardy in USDA Zones 8-11. (So hardy that it is often used as rootstock for less hardy varieties.) A Palestine Lime also makes a wonderful indoor or patio plant when grown in a large container. The trees begin the growing season with very aromatic white flowers, which will make your home, patio or greenhouse smell heavenly. They are strong growers in pots indoors by a sunny window. A 3-gallon tree sells for $74.95 from www.naturehills.com.

 

Easy-to-grow plant features holiday colors

Anthurium-Red-webAnthuriums are popular houseplants because they bloom well in low light and the flowers stay on the plants for two or three months. Anthurium ‘Red’ is a compact plant with bright red flowers that has been developed to grow and bloom well in a small pot. At full height it reaches about 12 inches tall, so it never outgrows its spot in your house.

This tropical plant is grown in a grower’s pot, and then dropped into a decorative earth-tone earthenware cachepot that looks great in any room. The earthenware cachepot measures 4.5” high by 4.5” wide, so it fits nicely on an end table or a mantel. (You may transplant the Anthurium directly into the earthenware pot at any time.) Anthurium ‘Red’ makes a wonderful holiday gift, and it’s also a great choice for any gardening enthusiast. An Anthurium ‘Red’ plant in a decorative earthenware pots sells for $24.95 from www.logees.com.

 

Keep container plants hydrated with this watering stake

Wine bottle stake webSometimes the best solutions are the simplest, and this cool Recycle-a-Wine-Bottle Watering Stake is a perfect example. It’s an elegant terracotta stake that helps you keep container plants hydrated while repurposing an empty wine bottle.

Just insert the terracotta watering stake into the soil of a potted plant and slide a wine bottle filled with water into the stake. The Recycle-a-Wine-Bottle Watering Stake can be used with many types of wine bottles (as well as other long-necked bottles). Measuring about 7 inches long, the Recycle-a-Wine-Bottle Watering Stake sits in the soil around your plant and slowly enables water to drip out through a tiny hole in the pointed end. Plant roots stay nicely hydrated for 7-10 days. As all gardeners know, hydrated plants are healthier and perform much better than those that are stuck are in the wilt-and-revive cycle. The Recycle-a-Wine-Bottle Watering Stake solves the problem of dried out containers with ease. There’s no need to hire a house sitter to water your plants when you’re on vacation—even for thirsty indoor plants and summer annuals. You can also mix fertilizer into the water, which gives plants a slow, even feeding of nutrients with their water. A two-pack of Recycle-a-Wine-Bottle Watering Stakes sells for $14.95 from www.parkseed.com.