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Houseplants without hassles

Retirees who no longer have a garden can still enjoy the benefits and pleasures of plants with easy-to-care-for houseplants.

Retirement generally involves downsizing, even the loss of a garden. But that doesn’t mean you need to forgo plants entirely. There is plenty of research showing that plants keep us happier and healthier.

Here are a few surprising benefits of houseplants:
On a practical level, indoor plants purify the air and increase humidity, which helps to ease dry skin and respiratory issues due to dry air. More importantly, plants induce a sense of well-being. They bring a room to life, especially flowering plants and the pleasure that we get from them goes a long way to reduce stress, anxiety and even loneliness.
For retirees with time on their hands, caring for plants can become a rewarding hobby, giving a sense of purpose.

According to research in Australia, time spent daily with plants ‘can reduce the likelihood of dementia by up to 36 %’. This has emerged from a 16-year study of 2 800 older people at St Vincent’s Hospital in New South Wales. They found that using plants to stimulate the senses, and keep people active, helped to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

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Sansevieria plants

Easy to care for houseplants
Nobody wants a plant that turns up its toes and dies at the slightest neglect. There are plenty of rewarding yet easy-to-care-for houseplants. Here’s what to look for:

Plants for a lock up and go lifestyle
Retirement is the time to travel and plants that will still be alive when you return are the ZZ plant, (Zamioculcas) Sansevieria, Anthurium, Phalaenopsis orchid, Areca palm, philodendrons and monstera. All these plants tolerate drying out and will revive with a good soak on your return. If you plan to be away for more than two weeks, place the plant on a saucer filled with gravel. Water the plant well before leaving and the excess will drain into the gravel and be gradually drawn up again by the plant.

Try this: One of the toughest houseplants that tolerates both heat and cold as well as low to bright light is the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). The glossy green leaves and strong cycad-like stems, certainly make a statement and  feeding with a pot-plant food once every six months keeps them bright and shiny. Water less in winter as they don’t mind drying out.

Plants that flower for ever (almost)

Plants that flower for two to three months are well worth the care, although most of them are surprisingly undemanding. Top of the list is the Phalaenopsis orchid that needs to be in a bright, light position and wont sulk if your forget to water it for a week or two. Pot roses are easier to care for than most people realise. There are two to three plants together in a pot, which adds to the flower power. Make sure they receive bright light and keep the soil moist but not soggy. Cyclamens are the best cool season indoor flowers and the year-round stalwarts are Anthurium, Kalanchoe and Calandiva.

Air purifying plants

Styling Elize Eveleens – Klimprodukties

Smaller living spaces easily get stuffy. While all plants add oxygen to a room, there are some that are more effective than others, especially when it comes to removing harmful toxins generated by household products. These include Spathiphyllum (Peace lily), Sansevieria, ZZ plant, Philodendrons, Chlorophytums (Spider plant), Chrysanthemums and Ficus.

What’s to like about Spathiphyllum? They are on NASA’s top list of air purifiers, making them one of the best plants to help you sleep better. As well as purifying the air, removing toxins, and increasing humidity, Spathiphyllum releases large amounts of oxygen throughout the entire day.
It grows in medium light and likes moist soil but if it dries out it will quickly revive if the pot is put in a basin of water and allowed to rehydrate.

Plants that don’t outgrow their space

Choose the wrong houseplant and you may have to hack your way out through to the front door. Opt for compact houseplants that don’t outgrow their space. Tabletop varieties fit in just about anywhere.

These include Peperomia and especially Peperomia ‘Watermelon’, bromeliads, Chlorophytum ‘Princess Mabel,’ and most flowering houseplants. There are also mini versions of favourite tropical plants that fill space but don’t dominate, like Alocasia ‘Bambino,’ Philodendron ‘Shangri la” and Monstera ‘Adansonii.’

Try this: Chlorophytum ‘Princess Mabel’ is a completely new look Chlorophytum (aka Spider plant). It has bright orange stalks that contrast with its deep green pointed leaves. It  has air purifying qualities and adapts to either dry or humid conditions, making it an easy-to-care for houseplant. Plants grow 30 t0 50cm high and should receive bright indirect light. Water when the top level of the soil feels dry.


Plants that just might outlive you


There are some plants that keep on living no matter how much neglect they suffer. Top of the list is Anthurium, with many different flower colours, ZZ plant, Areca palm (Bamboo), Sansevieria, Dracaena, Spathiphyllum, indoor cactus and the tropical mini monstera. They all grow in medium light and don’t like over watering. Feeding once a month with a liquid fertiliser will encourage them to produce new leaves and become healthier plants. Details: lvgplant.co.za


Try these: Calandiva looks like a kalanchoe (which it is) but has double flowers that are a lot showier. It re-flowers throughout the year if old flowers are cut off. Put three plants together if you really want to make a splash. Put them anywhere with bright, indirect light, close to a kitchen, bathroom or bedroom window, on a covered patio table or on a side table close to a window. Water deeply until the water comes out of the drainage holes but don’t let it stand in water. Let the soil become almost dry before watering. Feed with a liquid fertiliser once a month.



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