Try gardening to boost your mood!

Getting through the winter months may seem like a difficult task at times, with dry air and short days, but it is about to get better!

“Seasonal depression is a medical condition that affects more than half a million of Americans every winter.”

I bet you’ve heard of the “winter blues” before. I sure have, as many of the people I encounter every day have run away from the northern states for good or do so every winter (the so-called “snowbirds”). It is not only for the inconvenience of shoveling snow or physical problems that get worse in the cold.

Seasonal depression is a medical condition that affects more than half a million of Americans every winter. It seems to be related to the less availability of sunlight, which alters the mechanisms that regulate mood, sleep and hormones in our bodies, leading to tiredness, sadness, weight gain, lack of motivation, among other symptoms. As other types of depression, this disorder is treated by means of pharmacological and lifestyle therapies that are initiated and guided by medical professionals.

Recently, horticulture has been introduced as an activity that may be used as a form of therapy, as it has shown to provide a mindfulness experience to those who practice it. Think about it. From the task of checking every single plant to determine if they need watering, to the meticulousness of pruning, gardening requires a good amount of concentration, responsibility and dedication. It is an activity that provides with the rewarding experience of seeing the plant thrive. Is an activity that puts you closer to light and even outdoors. It gives you a boost of confidence as you admire the fruit of your efforts and you learn a new skill. It beautifies the space around you and purifies the air you breathe. And now, in the era of social media, it connects you with people who share the same interest. Sounds like an all-around fantastic mood booster, doesn’t it?

It does! And there has been a lot of research in this area.

“Nature contact and mood benefits: contact duration and mood type”

Let’s look for example at the study published last year in the Journal of Positive Psychology “Nature contact and mood benefits: contact duration and mood type”. In this study, the researchers compared two group of students, one who sat in an urban park for just 5 minutes and another who sat in a windowless lab. The first group showed significant increases in positive emotions compared to the second group.

Another example was the 2014 study conducted in University of Exeter Medical School in England which found that moving to greener areas was an immediate mood booster. This was similarly proven in a study from Stanford University in which participants who walked for 90 minutes through a green park on campus, versus strolling next to a loud nearby highway, exhibited “quieter” brains and were less focused on negative aspects of their lives, compared to how they felt before the walk. This was also an almost immediate benefit of exposure to nature.

And the benefits go beyond mental health.

“greenspace exposure provides a wide range of health benefits…”

A study with the strongest level of evidence have been able to combine the findings of smaller research papers into a one, big conclusion: greenspace exposure provides a wide range of health benefits, with statistically significant reductions in blood pressure, heart rate, production of cortisol, development of diabetes and even a reduction in all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

There are also studies that show that having a plant in a room, whether it is at home, at work or even hospitals, improves stress, anxiety and even tolerance to pain. Even nature pictures promote short term memory, as concluded in a 2016 study which stated, “among a growing number of interventions, nature exposure offers a quick, inexpensive, and enjoyable means to provide a temporary boost in executive attention” in older population.

In a world that has become as fast-paced as ever, it is easy to miss the opportunity to receive all the benefits that nature has to offer. What all these studies prove, is that it doesn’t matter how little or how many plants you have around you. Even small doses of green will make you healthier, happier and more productive.

My invitation is to bring greenery into your home as the cold months approach. You may find that you outlook of live may improve significantly by caring for plants.

Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Tropical Plants Alive During Winter

Hibiscus brought indoors during winter. *Flowering not guaranteed.

As Summer begins to wind down, our Plant Lovers from colder climates frequently ask us, “How best can my plants survive the Winter?

Luckily, it IS possible to keep some of your less cold-hardy plants thriving year-round. By having a smart overwintering plan, you can bring your plants through the coldest months. Okay….we hear you asking, “What exactly is Overwintering?” It simply means bringing your cold-sensitive plants inside, or into a sheltered spot.

For example, even a tropical plant like a hibiscus can make it through the Winter. If you live in an area where the temperatures dip below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, bring the hibiscus indoors. Fortunately, hibiscus are not too picky about location as long as they’re receiving adequate light and water.

Tip: Place outdoor plants on a sunny window sill for maximum light exposure.

Moving a plant indoors is not without some challenges. A plant could experience shock, caused by changes in light and humidity levels. You may even see some wilting or loss of leaves. But trust us, the plants can recover.

Misting leaves, allows your plant to retain the humidity it needs to thrive in a dry environment.

Here’s how to prepare your plant for the move. If possible, start by reducing the amount of sunlight the plant receives. Place it in a more shaded area outdoors. When you move it indoors, find a sunny spot by a window. If such a spot is not available, consider purchasing an artificial grow light. Humidity is another factor to consider. As you might suspect, the level of humidity indoors is far less than outdoors. Here are some ideas to compensate:

1) Situate the plant in your home’s most naturally humid rooms, like your kitchen, bath or laundry.

2) Group plants together, as this naturally increases the area’s humidity.

3) Misting the leaves of more tropical plants will help but be cautious to do so moderately and not overmist!

4) If all else fails, consider trying a room humidifier.

Keep in mind that overwintering plants indoors may impact their growth and bloom. Rest assured, this is completely normal. They’ll bounce back to their beautiful selves when Spring comes and they’re back outdoors.

Happy February!

Love is in the air, and even though temperatures may be challenging, we know in our hearts that Spring is around the corner. Whether you’re looking for a plant to add sunshine to your lives right now, or searching for that perfect Valentine’s gift that keeps on giving….look no further.

We at PlantVine have thought up a great way to “rush the season” and bring a welcome touch of Springtime indoors.  In addition to our website’s very special Valentine’s Day picks, we’ve selected some favorites as our “Plants of the Month.” These have been carefully curated to add lush green to your indoor environs. For those of you living in warmer climates, our Plants of the Month are great outdoors, as well.

Drum Roll Please…..February’s selects are: the Weeping Fig, the Monstera Adansonii, and last but certainly not leaf (we could NOT resist the plant pun), the Yellow Elder.

Weeping Fig – Ficus Benjamina ‘Wintergreen’ 

Plant lovers….can you identify 2018’s most popular plant? You guessed it, the Weeping Fig. Its glossy, green leaves adorn branchlets that droop gracefully from its main trunk.

Monstera Adansonii

Known as the ‘Swiss Cheese Plant’ because of its distinctive dark green leaves, the Monstera is the perfect plant to begin or add to your indoor jungle. The Monstera Adansonii also makes a great alternative to the highly coveted Monstera Deliciosa.

Yellow Elder – Tecoma Stans

Flexibility has made the Yellow Elder one of our most popular plants. Looking for a tree? Voila! It’s a tree. Looking for a bush or a trellis? It can do that, too. Its brilliant yellow flowers are so easy to fall in love with. If you’re living in the Polar Vortex these days, just keep the Yellow Elder indoors and trim it into a small bush

Plant Lovers! Be on the lookout for our upcoming Spring Selects. Happy Planting!

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