Indoor Plants That Make a House Feel Like Home

It’s a cold, late April morning, and a heavy snow is falling in the Chicago suburbs. By now, social distancing has everyone feeling mighty cooped up. Everything we’d normally do to unwind — go out to dinner, catch a movie, head to a live show — is off the table. Want to grill? Put on your snow pants. How about a picnic? The Chicago lakefront and adjacent parks, beaches and trails are closed — no matter the weather. Vacations? Not happening for the foreseeable future.

Now that homes are a place of extreme multitasking — they’re our schools, offices, daycare centers, local bars, heck even DIY hair and nail salons — it can be hard, if not impossible, to get a mental break. So, we’ve got to work with what we’ve got. 


Enter the topic at hand: plants — indoor ones, in particular. They make people happy. Whether it’s a proliferation of blooms; prickly, upright cacti; or lacy, delicate ferns, plants are easy on the eyes. They’re also good for your soul


According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture, living amid or by green spaces, spending time in natural settings and cultivating gardens can boost your mood; reduce stress, aggression and depression; encourage physical activity; improve cognition; and enhance overall well-being. And it’s true for across generations and under many circumstances. But the benefits don’t stop there. Flora has also been shown to spark creativity, raise productivity and concentration, help keep dementia at bay, help control symptoms of PTSD, and improve memory retention.


What’s more, research showed that people who surround themselves with plant life — natural beauty, period — improve their psychological, social, spiritual, environmental and physical health.


Since spring weather isn’t yet cooperating for a broad swath of the country, it’s a great time to up your houseplant game. Live in warmer climes? This applies to you, too. Whether you’re bringing the outdoors in or adorning your poolside patio, sunroom or deck, benefits abound.


Indoor Plants


When Chicagoans need inspiration for their indoor oases, I look no further than Sprout Home, a veritable wonderland of unique foliage. Set in Chicago’s River West neighborhood, the intimate boutique — and its second location in Brooklyn, NY — brim with fresh-cut blooms; exotic, artfully potted houseplants; graceful arrangements; and towering indoor trees.


What really gets me, though, are the hand-hewn terrariums and unique vessels and cheeky accessories for DIYers. While the shop is temporarily closed like so many businesses right now, you can still order indoor plants, pots and planting materials online. Get some inspiration and helpful tips for designing your own terrarium from one of Sprout Home’s pros.


Another idea? Order an AeroGarden, ASAP. This turnkey, hydroponic gem lets you grow healthy, worry-free vegetables, heirloom salad greens, fragrant herbs and a rainbow’s-worth of zinnias, celosias and cascading petunias in any available nook in your home. Whether you choose its three or 24-pod option, each kit includes a grow light-equipped system, selection of pods and quick-start guide that will have you up and running in no time. Care requirements are minimal — you just need to refill water and add provided liquid nutrients every two weeks. 


Outdoor Plants That Transition Indoors


Many of us can grow a wide variety of plants on the patio during summer. However, they’d need to be transitioned inside come late September. 


A favorite option: dwarf citrus, like Meyer lemons, kumquats, Kaffir limes, and calamondin and otaheite oranges. Citrus plants thrive when it’s at least 65°F during the day, and up to 10 degrees cooler at night. Once inside, the plant will adapt to lower light conditions, to a degree. However, they still need a lot of bright light. After fruit production wanes, citrus needs five- to-six hours of direct sunlight a day., but it requires eight- to-10 hours during its most productive period. Check out the University of Minnesota extension for great indoor cultivation tips and read more here.


You can also grow avocados, pineapples and all manner of strange species as houseplants. A lot of tropical plants and indoor trees flourish inside as well, including Birds of Paradise, the Norfolk Island Pine and the European olive.


The bottom line? If there’s a will, there’s a way. Just take it from a lifelong Chicagoan, whose summers are hard-earned: you need a spirit-boost from time to time. In the process, you can bring joy and sustenance to your abode, too. 

For more tips, visit our blog and follow and tag us on social media — #HandledHome #PlantsMakePeopleHappy.

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