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The Zen of Indoor Gradening
The Zen of Indoor Gradening Recent scientific research is now showing that any connection with nature provides positive health benefits. Even the nurturing and maintaining of a single plant can qualify as a form of gardening by today’s standards.

Are you one of those folks who finds the thought of gardening indoors daunting? Well, it needn’t be! In recent years, the rules of gardening have shifted dramatically: indoor gardening is a hot trend with simple ideas that will allow you to enjoy the presence of plants in your apartment or in your home.

Recent scientific research is now showing that any connection with nature provides positive health benefits. Even the nurturing and maintaining of a single plant can qualify as a form of gardening by today’s standards. So, if you want to create an abundance of color, textures, shapes, smells, and taste inside your home and de-stress at the same time, here are some simple tips about how to do it.

Plant an herb garden.
An herb garden is one of the easiest and most rewarding for both novice and experienced gardeners. Rather than starting from seeds, I recommend buying inexpensive small potted plants. Herbs thrive in direct sunlight, so a warm, sunny windowsill or a spot outside that gets direct sun (if you live in a warmer climate) for at least six hours a day, is a perfect setting for them. If space allows, buy a terracotta strawberry jar, some store bought potting mix, granular fertilizer and a variety of herbs such as: oregano, lavender, thyme, basil, and parsley. If your space is limited, purchase a rectangular terracotta pot and plant it with a variety of herbs or buy individual small terracotta pots (all the same size) and plant one herb in each container. Place the plants in a row on a counter, windowsill, or tabletop for a minimalist, sleek look. Water when plants are dry and use containers with good drainage and saucers underneath to catch excess water. The Zen of this experience is very much in the handling of the herbs while planting them. Touch their leaves, breathe in their aromas, and feel free to talk with them. Tell them how grateful you are that they have come into your life to offer you visual beauty and health for your body and soul. If you think that talking to plants is hokey, reconsider. In fact, plants are living things: many gardeners are beginning to recognize the possibility that plants have the ability to respond to humans’ touch as well as to the tone of our voices.

Flowering, Tropical and Aromatic Plants.
For the adventurous, romantic spirit in you, take a risk and buy some bold flowering tropical or aromatic plants. The availability of truly outstanding specimens at nurseries is mind-boggling. All of your senses will be captivated!

Some of my favorite aromatic, flowering plants are brunfelsia, bouvardia, jasmine, gardenia, passiflora, scented geraniums, and several of the citrus bushes. Flowering plants in a wide range of colors and textures without a scent are calliandra, bouganvillea, canna, justicia, and kalanchoe. And what plants are more tropical than banana and palm trees? They’re ideal when used as indoor plants as long as you give them six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Herbs thrive in direct sunlight, so a warm, sunny windowsill or a spot outside that gets direct sun for at least six hours a day, is a perfect setting for them.
Make sure to check sunlight exposure prior to purchasing any plants. Do you have a northern exposure in which you are constantly turning on lights in order to brighten your rooms? It is critical to know the amount of sunlight available in order to assess whether or not you will have success with a particular plant. If a plant needs full sun and the sun you receive is a morning exposure (Eastern), then a banana or palm plant is not for you. Rather, choose a plant that requires only partial sun such as a begonia or alocasia. Next, when purchasing any plant, make sure it has a label attached with all of the information you need to know: its botanical and common name, its characteristics, and the conditions under which it will thrive (sunny, partial shade, lots of moisture, easy or more difficult to grow). If you are drawn to a beautiful plant whose characteristics require constant care and you are a person who has little patience with such things, this plant is probably not for you: unless you want to use the plant as a tool to teach you patience.

Stroll around the garden center until you find a plant that is described as hardy and not picky about the condition under which it thrives. Take your time to gaze at the plant, touch its leaves in order to feel the texture, look at both the top and underside of the leaves and just spend time observing it. Does it give you pleasure? Can you imagine it in your home? Do you have a specific location for it or are you going to allow yourself the freedom to play around with it until you find the right location?

Once home, place a saucer under the container and water the plant only when the top inch of soil becomes dry (unless the directions say otherwise). Believe it or not, over watering is as much a killer of plants as is under watering. If you plan to create a tropical, flowering, aromatic oasis on your patio or terrace, unless you live in a warmer location, you should wait until spring when all danger of frost is over. In addition, night temperatures should consistently be above 50F for this type of project.

Feel free to buy a variety of shapes and sizes of containers to create the look you want: romantic, modern, classical, or festive. Play around with how to group the plants in order to make a pleasing vignette. Or perhaps you will decide to place one plant by itself to be used as an architectural statement.

Once the plants are ensconced in your home, spend time observing them. I love sitting in a comfortable chair relaxing and allowing myself the time to just gaze at them, in all of their beauty, much like I love watching my dogs frolicking or sleeping. If you allow yourself to connect with these magnificent living things, you will find that you nurture one another and the quality of your life can improve significantly.

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"The Zen of Indoor Gradening"
   authored by:
Fran Sorin, recognized as one of America’s leading gardening experts, is changing how people perceive gardening. Her multi-media exposure reflects her philosophy that, similar to exercising and following a wholesome diet, gardening is a necessity for...

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