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15 houseplants that will improve your indoor air quality

Spider plant
Spider plant

For all of its exploration of the galaxy, the space program has accrued many benefits right here on earth. Thanks to NASA, we know that houseplants can purify the air in our homes and workplaces.
NASA originally focused on finding ways to purify the air in orbiting space stations. A 1973 space mission identified 107 volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that were emitted by the synthetic materials inside the spacecraft. It was clear that tightly sealed buildings, whether orbiting in space or on the ground, could cause health problems.

Sick building syndrome

Back on earth, spurred by the energy crisis of the 1970s, the building industry focused on making old and new structures more energy efficient. Without intending to, they also paved the way for trapping pollutants – or what is often called “sick building syndrome.”
Three of the pollutants found in spacecraft – benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene – also are present in homes and offices, emitted by everything from building materials to furnishings to office equipment. Air-tight buildings conserve energy and reduce heating and cooling costs, but they also trap these pollutants.

NASA found that certain houseplants, because they are good at absorbing gases, could remove indoor pollutants. Researchers suggested using one potted plant per 100 square feet of home or office space to improve indoor air quality. One study found that philodendron, spider plant and golden pothos removed 80 percent of the formaldehyde that was introduced into a sealed chamber.

If you want to improve the air quality of your space, you might consider bringing home some of these commonly recommended plants:
1. Heartleaf philodendron
2. Elephant ear philodendron
3. Cornstalk dracaena
4. English ivy
5. Spider plant
6. Janet Craig dracaena
7.Warneckii dracaena
8.Weeping fig
9. Golden pothos
10. Peace lily
11. Selloum philodendron
12. Chinese evergreen
13. Bamboo or reed palm
14. Snake plant
15. Red-edged dracaena
Sources: sunsethillsfoliage.com, coopext.colostate.edu
 

Annual plants add beauty: 3 simple tips for taking care of them


 
Colorful flowering annual baskets and pots provide an easy and inexpensive way to increase the beauty and enjoyment of outside living areas.
Annual plants are available in a wide range of colors and varieties, offering something for everyone.
Care is simple. Just keep these things in mind:
• Choose plants suited to the light levels they’re growing in:

  • Sunny spots require plants that thrive in the sun, such as geraniums, petunias, marigolds, salvia, ageratum, alyssum and portulaca.
  • Plants that do better with partial shade are begonias, impatiens, fuchsia and coleus.

• Container plants drink lots of water. Check them daily.
• To keep the blooms coming all season, add a water-soluble fertilizer a couple of times each week when watering. Plants also can be encouraged to bloom and stay “bushy” by pinching off the spent blooms.

A selfish reason for giving flowers or plants on Secretary’s Day: boost productivity

Flowers aren’t just a nice thing to do for your administrative assistant on Secretary’s Day, also known as Administrative Professionals Day.
Research conducted at Texas A&M University found that flowers can help boost workplace productivity.

“Our research shows that a change as simple as adding flowers and plants can be important in the most meaningful way to businesses in the modern economy,” said Roger Ulrich, lead researcher on the project. The increased productivity – in the form of innovation and creative problem-solving – “could mean the difference between mild and great business success.”

The Society of American Florists worked with the researchers, lending expertise in flowers and plants.
In an eight-month study, both women and men demonstrated more innovative thinking, generating more ideas and original solutions to problems in the office environment that included flowers and plants. Men generated more ideas, while women generated more creative, flexible solutions to problems.
So bosses can give their administrative assistants flowers or plants out of respect and self-interest.
 

How the lily became a symbol of Easter and other floral facts about the holiday

Photo: Matt H. Wade
Photo: Matt H. Wade

Numerous accounts identify her as Mrs. Thomas Sargent, a resident of Philadelphia who visited Bermuda in the 1880s. Smitten by the lilies she saw there, she brought lily bulbs home with her.
She gave some of them to a local nurseryman named William Harris, “who began growing them, forcing them into spring bloom, and selling to other florists,” writes Leonard Perry, an extension professor at the University of Vermont. “Many began buying this flower for Easter, as they do today, with it symbolizing the Resurrection.”
“Forcing” bulbs – as we described in this post about hyacinths – is the means by which light and temperature can be manipulated in order to control the rate at which a plant grows. In most parts of the United States, lilies naturally would bloom in the summer – weeks after Easter.
Some other facts about Easter lilies:

  • Flowering and green houseplants (46 percent) account for the biggest chunk of Easter/Passover floral sales. Lilies (52 percent) account for most flowering houseplant sales. (aboutflowers.com)
  • Lilies are considered highly toxic to cats. The Society of American Florists recommends keeping lilies out of the reach of cats as ingesting even small amounts of the plant can cause kidney failure. Lilies do not pose a problem for other pets or humans. (aboutflowers.com)
  • In the home, Easter lilies prefer moderately cool temperatures (recommended 60 to 65 degrees during the day, slightly cooler at night). They thrive near a window in bright, indirect natural daylight. (Texas A&M Agrilife Extension)
  • Ohio is among the states that produce the most potted Easter lilies. (Texas A&M Agrilife Extension)

 
 
 
 
 
 

Flowers help stem the morning blahs: Harvard study

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Maybe it’s the long winter or the still-cold mornings, or just too much work and not enough sleep. There are any number of reasons why it can be tough to get at ’em in the morning.
When it comes to a pick-me-up, caffeine isn’t for all tastes. But everyone can start their days with flowers — and with good reason.
People are happier and more energetic after looking at flowers first thing in the morning, according to a behavioral study conducted by researchers at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital.

“The morning blahs, it turns out, is a real phenomenon, with positive moods — happiness, friendliness and warmth, for example — manifesting much later in the day,” said lead researcher Dr. Nancy Etcoff. “Interestingly, when we placed a small bouquet of flowers into their morning routines, people perked up.”

The final study results demonstrated that flowers affect people emotionally at home, causing them to feel less anxious and more compassionate. They even reported a boost of energy that lasted all day.
“What I find interesting is that by starting the day in a more positive mood, you are likely to transfer those happier feelings to others — it’s what is called mood contagion,” Etcoff said. “And, the kitchen is the place where families tend to gather in the morning — imagine how big a difference a better morning mood can make.”
To learn more about this study and ways to incorporate flowers into your kitchen, click here.
 

Six easy ways to get a jump on spring


The days are getting longer, the sun is getting brighter, and everyone is looking to shake off cabin fever. Spring is almost here, but you can get a jump on the season by bringing bright color and natural beauty into your home.
Here are some easy and cost-effective ideas to get you started:
1. Blooms: Nothing says spring quite like flowering plants. Violets, begonia, kalanchoe, cyclamen and Phaleonopsis orchids are all easy care and just need a home near a bright window for cheerful blooms over an extended period.
Bulb plants such as hyacinths, daffodils and tulips offer an added bonus. In the fall, you can plant the bulbs outside so that they deliver a splash of color next spring.
2. Think green: Green foliage plants add oxygen and humidity back into the air that we breathe and remove some impurities. Rejuvenate and dust off your houseplants. Better yet, pick up a new plant to replace one or two that are tired or to fill a bare corner or tabletop. Add a new basket or ceramic pot cover to add color and enhance your décor.
3. Common scents: Candles aren’t just for the fall and winter holiday seasons any more. Vanilla and lavender are two of the most popular scents, but you’ll find plenty of fresh, clean fragrances and styles of candles that have increased in popularity and are perfect for year-round use. Try a fresh linen or spring floral scent.
4. Bring the outdoors in: Trees and shrubs are just starting to bud. Trim a few branches and bring the outdoors inside to force open the blooms in a vase. Some good choices are forsythia, pussy willow and flowering cherry or crabapple stems, each of which produces colorful blooms.
Becoming more popular are curly willow and red twig dogwood branches. Although these branches do not have visible flowers, they look great in a vase and give texture when you add a few fresh-cut flowers. When you’re at the florist, be sure to pick up floral preservative to add to the water.
5. Front and center: Don’t forget about the front door and porch. Hang branches or a nice door piece for instant spring. Bulb plants, pansies and primrose all do well on a porch or patio. You may have to cover them or bring them inside overnight in case of frost or low temperatures. A cheerful front door will put a smile on your face and on those of your neighbors.
6. Treat yourself: Studies show that flowers are a great weapon against the morning blahs, boost energy and workplace productivity, and improve emotional health. So pick up a mixed handful, a weekly special or even just a few loose stems of your favorites.

National Poinsettia Day is Dec. 12 and other facts about the most popular holiday plant

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We typically think of the North Pole when it comes to Christmas, but the most popular holiday plant originates with our neighbor to the south.
Poinsettias are native to Mexico and were introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
In fact, Poinsett’s death in 1851 is commemorated every Dec. 12 as National Poinsettia Day.
Some other facts:

  • The colored parts of poinsettias aren’t flowers but bracts (leaves).
  • Poinsettias have been called the lobster flower and flame leaf flower.
  • Poinsettias are not poisonous, to humans or pets.
    • An Ohio State study found that a 50-pound child who ate 500 bracts (leaves) might have a slight tummy ache.
  • Poinsettias are commercially grown in all 50 states.
  • Ninety percent of all poinsettias are exported from the United States.

Source: www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/poinsettia
 

Mums the word year-round

Many of us decorate porches and patios with hardy mums in the fall. But a little bit of loving and some attention to the calendar can help you get the most out of your mums and even keep them blooming in a garden for years to come.
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If you planted mums in the ground back in the fall, then the summer months are important in their growth cycle.
Feeding: From spring through July, nourish your mums twice a month with an all-purpose garden fertilizer mixed in water. Stop feeding in August.
Pinching: By July 15, you should pinch the top growth back 1 to 2 inches. This will ensure that your mums bloom in the fall rather than during the summer.
Controlling pests: Aphids are the most common pests that afflict garden mums. These are small soft-bodied insects about the size of a pinhead. They range in color from green to yellow to black. They make their livings by sucking the sap out of tender new growth. To control them, spray an all-purpose insecticide or insecticidal soap on the plants once a week for a couple of weeks. Take care not to spray plants in direct sun or when the temperature is above 90 degrees.
Now, if you are thinking about planting your potted mum for the first time, here are some steps to take:
• Be sure to water your potted mums daily as warm days will make them thirsty. At the same time, too much water can damage the roots; provide drainage in decorative pots or baskets.
• It’s best to plant the mums in October so their roots have time to grow before cold weather sets in.
• Once the mums are planted, water them thoroughly a couple of times each week through mid-November. This will encourage the roots to grow deeply. The deeper the roots, the stronger the plants will be.
• In late spring, cut the plants down 6 to 8 inches above the ground. This will give you bushy, compact plants with lots of flowers. As spring gives way to summer, follow the instructions above relative to feeding and pinching.

Poinsettia Care Tips for this Christmas and Next!

Tartan Poinsettia #
A 5+ bloom red poinsettia wrapped with a gold wrap and decorated with gold balls and a plaid bow.

Keeping your poinsettia looking great this Christmas takes two easy steps, but did you know with a few more steps you can have a wonderful poinsettia next Christmas as well?
This Christmas
1. When the surface of the soil is dry to the touch, water the plant.
2. Keep the poinsettia in a room with temperatures between 60 and 72 degrees. Keep the plant out of hot and cold drafts, such as those from a heating vent or open door.
 
Next Christmas
1. When leaves begin to drop, let dry slightly between watering.
2. In late spring (early May) cut back plant to 6 inches, shake free of soil and repot in new potting soil, then resume regular watering. Fertilize with a 30-10-10 fertilizer twice monthly. Stop fertilizing November 1st until December 30th.
3. Place outdoors in a warm sunny location when the temperatures are consistently over 60 degrees.
4. Pinch the tips of new shoots when they reach 6 to 8 inches long until late July. Continue to fertilize every two weeks.
5. Bring indoors before cold nights (early September) and place indoors in full sun. Three to six hours of sunlight is needed.
6. In order for poinsettias to bloom, they must have 14 hours of uninterrupted darkness each day for 40 days (late September through October). Place in a dark place such as a closet or cover with a bag from early evening and remove the next morning so that the plant is in total darkness.
7. When #6 is followed, your poinsettia will bloom at Christmas, but remember, it only takes 10 minutes of light per day during the time it was dark and your plant won’t bloom until January or February.

Learn How You Can Get The Most Out Of Your Freshly Cut Flowers

Having flowers in your home enhances your décor and livens up your space. Learn about caring for flowers and plants by reading through these resources. Visit us at Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts for the freshest, most beautiful floral arrangements, plants, and gifts in town. If you’d like to know more, give us a call at (614) 539-4000.