With more and more attention given to the positive effect nature can have on our physical and mental well-being, it makes sense to try to find a way to incorporate more nature into our environments both at work and at home.
If you are thinking of going green but worried you don’t have a green thumb, let us help you get started. Like learning to dance, sometimes you just need to find the right partner, or, in this case, flower, tree, grass or plant.
Whether you want happy houseplants and fabulous flowers, easy edible plants or a landscape with longevity, we have some advice that should suffice to make gardening nice.
Happy Houseplants and Fabulous Flowers
Researchers at Stanford conducted a study comparing the effects of urban versus natural settings. In the study, participants were split into two groups that each walked in the two separate natural and urban settings. Physiological effects were the same for both groups. However, researchers discovered startling differences in brain activity according to setting.
Those walking in nature had markedly reduced brain activity in the area of the brain associated with “repetitive thought focused on negative emotions.”
Lead author of the study, Gregory Bratman, a graduate student in Stanford’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, the Stanford Psychophysiology Lab and the Center for Conservation Biology, said, “This finding is exciting because it demonstrates the impact of nature experience on an aspect of emotion regulation – something that may help explain how nature makes us feel better.”
The positive effect extends to freshly cut flowers and bouquets. In a 2005 study, women who received flowers enjoyed better moods that lasted several days. Similarly, elderly patients who received flowers experienced better moods and improved memory.
For some easy, indoor options, the peace lily, snake plant, African violets, jade plant and begonias are easy as can be to grow indoors.
These gorgeous plants have elegant white flowers that stand out against dark green leaves. They make wonderful gifts as they are easy to grow indoors. Keep soil moist but do not overwater. Although they are a tropical plant and like warmer temperatures, keep them out of the direct afternoon sunlight. Peace lilies do like a bright, well-lit area.
With the proper care, a peace lily can bloom off and on most of the year. Peace lilies got that name because their white flowers reaching above the green leaves looked like little white flags of peace. Bring some peace into your home and cleanse the air of toxins with the peace lily plant.
The snake plant is a hardy succulent that can grow in most conditions. It can handle low light but thrives in brighter light. It can survive droughts and is very resistant to pests. Let this plant dry out between watering and use free-draining soil.
Like the peace lily, these plants also cleanse the air of toxins and can thrive without much attention. These are also easily propagated, so with proper care, you can have a house full of these fresh, clean-looking plants.
These plants, with their lovely flowers in shades of purple, white and red, are a popular choice as they bloom all year. They do not require much, but they seem to do best in a pot with a water reservoir.
African violets like bright, indirect light. When you water them, make sure to avoid getting cold water on the leaves to avoid them spotting, browning or even possibly dying. These pretty flowering-plants will be a beautiful accessory to brighten your space and your mood.
Easy Edible Plants
To take the positive effects of nature and plants even further, why not consider gardening? The act of gardening gets us more active and can help alleviate depression by releasing feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine in the brain. In fact, a May 2007 study published in Science Direct, Volume 146, Issue 2, found that soil has a bacterium called mycobacterium vaccae that triggers the release of serotonin. If you want anxiety to be foiled, toil in the soil!
Another positive aspect of gardening is that you can grow your own healthy food that is free of dangerous pesticides. This can also be a great incentive for healthy eating. Some extremely easy options are zucchini, mint and chard, but the options are endless once you get the hang of gardening.
Zucchini squash yield a lot of food in a short amount of time. They love sun and light and grow quite large. To harvest, cut the fruit when they are six to eight inches long. If allowed to grow larger than that, they become less flavorful. The flowers of this plant are also a pretty and edible addition to a salad.
When it comes to growing, mint will take off in a sprint. It grows like a weed in soil. Mint is so easy to grow, even in harsh conditions, that it will sometimes take over the garden. You can pick it bare, and it will still grow back.
To prevent spread, you can contain the plants in planters or grow it in a tower garden. However, if it does spread, this wonderful plant does repel mosquitos, spiders, fleas and ants.
Looking for gardening that isn’t too hard? Look no further than chard. Of the greens, chard is the easiest to grow. It can be grown any time of the year indoors or outside in the garden. This plant has leaves that are similar to spinach and thick stalks. It is rich in vitamins A, C and K and can be used in many dishes.
Although it may be less well-known than other greens typically grown, don’t discard the chard!
Landscape with Longevity
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health examined the impact of green settings on children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This study found that activities in natural settings reduced symptoms when compared to activities in more urban, indoor settings.
A low-growing, evergreen shrub- Indian Hawthorn doesn’t require pruning to keep its figure. It is not a fussy shrub and can tolerate most types of soil and moderate drought. It’s delicate, charming flowers are seen in spring, but the rest of the year, this shrub produces dark berries that will be enjoyed by birds and wildlife. This easy, landscaping plant will not only add beauty to your yard. It will also add interest in the form of visiting wildlife!
The daisy-like flowers of the coreopsis plant are guaranteed to bring some sunshine to your outdoor space. These bright, smiling plants are low-maintenance, drought-tolerant and will attract birds, bees and beautiful butterflies! These plants are not choosy about soil-type, and the cut flowers can decorate your home.
Do you have a spot where nothing will grow? If so, you might want to consider ribbon grass. Ribbon grass is an ornamental grass that can be used as a groundcover or to prevent erosion. It must be mentioned that this grass is so apt to grow and spread wildly that it is banned in some states. Best used only in difficult growing conditions, but its bullying nature can be made afraid when faced with shade.
These are just some of the options for an easy introduction to plants, flowers, grasses, trees and everything in between. If you would prefer to choose a plant that is already growing, we have some options and would be happy to help you select a plant or two to live with you.
Flowers are another option for enjoying increased productivity and happier moods. Our florists at Flowerama St. Paul serving St. Paul, MN, are always glad to accompany someone on a journey to discover how to incorporate the beauty of nature into a home or workplace.