Indoor Plants To Combat Dry Winter Air

indoor gardening

Have you ever thought about using indoor plants to combat that dry winter air that has your skin cracking and your clothes crackling?

detoxify indoor airIndoor plants are a wonderful way to keep the air inside your home clean and toxin free, especially during those colder months when the windows and doors are closed.  But, did you know that they can also help rehydrate the air that’s being dehydrated by your central heating and gas fireplace? They’re also helpful in maintaining respiratory and skin health.

No one enjoys those cold weather cracked skin issues, or the build up of static electricity that makes your clothes cling and crackle and sparks of static electricity when you touch things.  The answer is becoming an indoor gardener!

Plants grow by absorbing water and nutrients from the soil.  The moisture they absorb hydrates the plant cells.  However, a lot of the moisture is excreted on the leaves and this evaporates into the atmosphere, helping to add much needed humidity into the air in your home. The dryer the air, the more moisture the plant ‘sucks’ from the soil and the more it releases via evaporation.  It’s your own smart humidifier!

Nearly all plants will add some moisture to the air, however plants with broader leaves tend to do a better job.

Rainforest plants are very good at this. The larger the leaves, the larger the area available for evaporation.  Conversely, small leaf or succulent plants are not good humidifiers in an indoor situation.

Be sure that there is good air circulation around your plants as this will help with the evaporation process. Remember to water as is recommended by your garden center. Over watering will only cause your plants to rot and die.

You also don’t need too many plants to achieve a good humidity level. Add too many and your home will become muggy and you’ll create an ideal environment for mold and bacteria.  As with most things, moderation is key.

Some examples of plants that are good humidifies and are easy to grow indoors are:

  • Peace lily
  • Dracaena
  • Areca Palm
  • Bamboo Palm
  • Philodendron
  • Ficus Benjamina
  • Ginger

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Green Living Walls Not Just For Corporations

living wall

Vertical, green, or living walls are becoming more popular as people begin to realize the benefits of incorporating plants in their built environment.

Environmental branding is the new corporate speak for such things as well as other environmentally responsible initiatives such as using renewable energy and cutting down on their carbon footprint.

It’s not just good P.R. These corporations know that incorporating a living wall inside or outside their offices has significant advantages which include lowering employee stress levels, cleaning the air, creating a soothing visual aesthetic and helping to control sound.

Vertical walls are just as effective in an everyday home. 

Yes, they do take a bit more planning and money than a few containers, but the visual, physical, mental and emotional impact is huge!  They’re extremely impressive, and aside from cleaning your indoor air, they make a great talking point with visitors!  They also take up very little room so they’re ideal for spaces where you don’t have much room. They’re also great for masking ‘not so attractive’ areas indoors and outside.

Here are a few of the basics you’ll need to build your own green living wall:

  • wood for a frame.  Free pallets can be dismantled and used quite easily
  • a base barrier layer of very thin hardboard or corrugated plastic, flat abs or other lightweight material that will form the backing against your ‘real’ wall.
  • plastic sheeting, felt, hessian or even small hole chicken wire to form an anchor for the growing medium and the plants
  • landscape fabric
  • staple gun and staples
  • growing medium, usually a potting mix or a coconut coir such as you’d use in hanging baskets
  • plants such as succulents, ferns, bromeliads, coral bells, spider plants, hens and chicks etc. Ask your local garden center for their recommendations for your specific living wall location.

How to assemble your living wall:

  • create the frame to the desired size using the pallet wood.  Alternatively, if your frame is not going to be too big and heavy, use the entire side of a pallet
  • line the frame with the plastic, fabric or whatever material you choose for the backing – this material should also be lined on the inside with the landscape fabric
  • staple these 2 layers securely to the inside of the frame
  • fill the frame half full with the coir / potting mix
  • secure another layer of landscape fabric, hessian or even chicken wire over the planting medium
  • before planting, lift the wall so its standing vertically to check for leaks in the backing. You’ll want to make sure there are no leaks, especially if it’s going to be on an inside wall
  • you may also want to consider adding a plastic gutter along the bottom to catch water that leaks out when watering unless you plan on laying the wall on the ground outside each time you water it.
  • create small slits in the over layer  where you’ll insert your plants
  • insert the plants, making sure to loosen the roots so they’re not all clumped together
  • water the plants well
  • leave your living wall lying flat on the ground for at least a few days to allow the plants to take root and stabilize
  • once your living wall is mounted vertically be sure to water and fertilize as required by the plants

A word of caution before you begin:

  • make sure that the location in which the living wall will hang gets enough light all year
  • have someone on hand to help you mount the wall
  • be sure to test the frame before planting

Want something a little less complex?  Here are a few ideas:

Fall planting versus Spring Planting: Which Is Best?

Fall planting

It’s natural to feel like planting in the Spring. After the long winter, once the first crocus and daffodil pop their heads above the ground, we begin to itch to get out into the garden and create some colour.

Flavors of Fall Hands On Cooking Classes

We don’t always have the same reaction when Fall comes around. Instead of looking forward to Spring flowers and warmer days, we know that Winter is just around the corner. Crisp, cooler, often wetter days are all part and parcel of the season.

FALL PLANTINGBut, what many don’t realize is that Fall is perfect for planting.

In fact for many plants, Fall planting is actually more successful than Spring planting.

 

The reason is quite logical. Plants know that Winter is on its way and they know it’s time to dig down deep. Growth above the ground begins to slow and all their energy goes into developing longer, stronger root systems. When we plant in Spring, most of the plant’s energy goes into growth above the ground: foliage, flowers, fruit, branches and so on. Roots take a back seat during this busy season.

During the Fall, the cooler air temperatures make gardening easier on gardeners and make it easier for plants to survive the shock of being transplanted from their pots into the garden soil which is still warm. This allows roots to grow until the ground freezes. In spring, plants don’t grow until the soil warms up.

Fall tens to produce more good gardening days than spring.

During the Spring rain and unexpected cold snaps, or even snow fall can make working the soil impossible.
Plus, many Garden Centers have great deals during the Fall as they move as much product as possible before the Winter arrives when no one is gardening.

While Fall rain is generally plentiful, it’s still important to deeply water newly planted plants for the first few months until they are established – especially if it doesn’t rain at least an inch per week.

Another significant advantage during the Fall is that common garden pests and disease problems tend to be less prevalant. Plantings also don’t need fertilizer the way they do in Spring. Fertilizer helps produce new, tender growth that can be damaged by winter weather.

A few examples of plants that prefer Fall planting are: grasses, spring-blooming bulbs, cool-season vegetables, perennials, trees, and shrubs.
The window for fall planting ends about six weeks before your area will experience harsher weather such as frost, frozen rain, sleet or snow. Planting time usually ends in September or October.

For more information about what to plant during the Fall and where and how to plant, please feel free to visit with our talented horticulturalists.