JCMG: What is old becomes new again | Opinion

Since the pandemic began, more and more people have been spending time at home, working remotely, and rediscovering houseplants. Happy National Houseplant Week! Having had houseplants most of my life and being a person who loves houseplants, there is some great information to share.

Many exotic plants become very popular during the shutdown. Most of the different Monsteras (especially Thai Constellation) have also become very expensive. Prices are adjusting right now and becoming more subdued. Many of my friends and colleagues are still posting photos as their plants send out new leaves.

Some people are afraid of indoor plants; my children will, my pets will, I will kill him. These are just excuses, if we start with some of the easiest plants to keep alive.

Houseplants were studied by NASA at the International Space Station many years ago. They have been found to improve indoor air quality. In basic biology, we learned that plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis. Many easy-to-care-for plants can also remove other air pollutants from your home. Your rooms don’t have to become a jungle or a rainforest for this to happen.

One plant per 100 square feet will contribute to indoor air quality. In my house it would be a plant in the office and our guest bedroom. Three to four plants would be needed in our living room. Other studies have shown that when plants are placed in an office environment, stress is reduced and office workers feel connected to nature.

One of the easiest plants to grow, unless your cats like to nibble on them, is a spider plant, or Chlorphytum elatum. I had one for over 20 years, until one of the cats found out. They are not toxic to cats. Cats chew it and may then vomit up a hairball.

There are three different types of spider plants: a solid green leaf, a green leaf with a stripe down the middle, and a green leaf with white edges. I still enjoy them and have them on my porch during the summer. They are easy to propagate and make an excellent hanging basket.

Devil’s ivy, Pothos, (Epipremnum aureum) is another easy-care plant. This plant can be in the form of a hanging basket or growing on a stake in a container. There are also several variations of this plant; yellow and green, white and green, and even one that radiated out to form crumpled leaves!

Pothos and Spider plants can grow in low light conditions, require minimal fertilization, and should be checked for water about once a week. Pothos is also easy to propagate, like the spider plant, cuttings can be placed in a glass of water for roots to form and potted in soil at a later date. Several new varieties have recently been discovered or named in Colombia and should be on the market within a few years.

Peace Lily, (Spathiphyllum spps.) is a popular plant, often given as a gift or keepsake. This is another plant that doesn’t care how much light it gets or not. This plant does well in the absence of light (cupboard plant) or in very bright light indoors.

The peace lily will even tell you when it needs water, its leaves droop. After watering it, they straighten up and look beautiful again. There are several different varieties, most of the differences are in the size of the leaves.

Mauna Loa leaves are about six to eight inches in diameter, other varieties have leaves about one to two inches in diameter. Another variety has variegated leaves.

All of these plants are easy to find at your local garden center, florist, big box stores, and online. Beware of online sales, some plants may be damaged during transport. Even a single plant in your home can have a positive effect on air quality.

Be safe, be healthy and keep gardening.

Joyce Block is a master gardener from Johnson County who works as a horticulturist and lives in Alvarado.

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