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Benefits of Houseplants
March 02, 2009

3 inches is all I was asking for.

3 more inches of snow so we could finish #2 on the all time snow list and we couldn't muster up a dusting of the white stuff.

Storms and blizzards roared through, but we had rain.

All the white stuff went north of here.

The rain, had it been white, would have given us a couple of feet of snow.

So, now that March is here and I don't want snow...... I must cheer for 3 more inches.

Call me a sicko if you want, but we usually are good for 8, 9 inches of snow in March on average.

Oh well.

This past week I broke out the telescope to have a look see of "Comet Lulin."

There wasn't much to see really, but I wanted to say that I did see the faint, green fuzzy thing near Saturn.

Did you get a chance to see the crescent moon and Venus Friday night?

SPECTACULAR, would be an understatement.

God's beauty never ceases to amaze me.

It's March and that's a good thing.

Daylight savings time starts next week and that means an extra hour of sunlight on the night side.

I think we all like that idea.

Not only are the days growing longer, but soon they will grow warmer as well.

Warm is a relative term I suppose.

50 degrees warm here, is cold in many regions.

Further north, 30 degrees may be a heat wave.

The birds are really singing these days.

Cardinals, chickadees, titmice, sparrows and of course, the Red-winged blackbird.

Temperatures fluctuate from single digits at night to the teens and even the 40's during the daylight hours.

It doesn't matter, the birds are feeling the itch driven by the length of day.

I notice the resident Red-tail hawks hanging together more and even spotted one flying over with a small branch it his talons.

Hey, being the first of the month, it's time to clean up the feeders and make sure everything is in working order.

If sickness and dead birds are an issue where you live, it is wise to remove your feeders for a few weeks or at least contact your county or state and find out what give.s

When so many birds congregate around a single feeder, germs are bound to spread.

Think school or work and what happens when a cold or flu bug hits and all the people that call in sick or it shuts down a school.

The same can happen at your feeders when a single sick bird shows up to feed.

To prevent the concentration of birds, remove the feeders.

Keep an eye open for migrating birds.

By offering fresh water, you may encourage some visitors to stop by.

Birds that you may have missed otherwise.

Warm days may also bring out a few hibernating butterflies.

You know a guy is getting older when he looks for migrating birds and hibernating butterflies.

It used to be I would look forward to the girls coming out of hibernation.

Guys, are you with me on that one?

Gails, you know what I mean as well :-)

Oh well,

This week's topic is a bit off the norm.

Martie in Ohio asked if I could write a bit on the benefits of house plants.

While houseplants aren't my strong suit, I told her I would do so.

Without a moment to lose, let's get to the benefits of houseplants.

Benefits of Houseplants

If you recall, a few weeks ago I wrote on the importance and some benefits of our outdoor plants and gardens.

Well, indoor plants serve us in much the same way.

House Plants do more than just brighten up a room with color and living energy.

Along with being pleasing to the eye, they bring real health benefits to you (much like outdoor gardening).

If you get a good feeling from having plants around the house, you're onto something.

Not only do complaints about headaches, stress, heart/circulation-symptoms and colds decrease when indoor plants are present, but plants also richly decorating a room with plants can help to keep the air clean.

One result of the 1970's energy crisis (do you remember that?) was the development and widespread adoption of improved insulation materials to maintain indoor energy efficiency.

Unfortunately, many of these materials have compromised indoor air quality due to their tendency to "off-gas" various airborne toxins, including formaldehyde, trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Much of the synthetic carpeting, upholstery and paint used indoors also contain sometimes noxious gases that get trapped inside air-tight homes and offices and which can build up gradually over time.

And most synthetic air fresheners only make matters worse, adding even more harmful VOCs to the indoor air.

Sadly, most people spend upwards of 90 percent of their time indoors, it may be no coincidence that cases of asthma and other respiratory diseases have been on the rise in recent years.

To The Rescue:

The unlikely hero in this scenario may in fact be the humble houseplant.

In a landmark 1984 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) study, initially commissioned to find ways to clean air in space bases and vehicles.

They found that some common houseplants actually cleaned polluted indoor air.

Philodendrons and golden pothos excelled at stripping formaldehyde from the air.

Gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums wiped out excessive amounts of indoor benzene, and pot mums and peace lilies absorbed a toxic degreasing solvent known as TCE.

A later NASA study, saw houseplants removing up to 87 percent of toxic indoor air within 24 hours.

A 1994 German study reported that one spider plant could cleanse a small room of formaldehyde in just six hours.

Further, English ivy, bamboo palm and snake plants have been shown to be effective in removing cigarette smoke as well as noxious odors from carpeting and chemical-laden household cleaners.

Just how can a houseplant be so good at cleansing the air?

Something we all learned in basic science classes.

The reason lies in its basic ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the air while releasing oxygen as part of the photosynthetic process.

Houseplants are essentially doing indoors what other plants and trees ordinarily do outdoors.

To maximize the benefits of houseplants in cleaning indoor air, it is generally recommended to use one plant for every 100 square feet of indoor space.

Besides those plants mentioned above, other good indoor air cleaners include palms, ferns, dracaenas, corn plants, weeping figs, dumb canes, orchids, arrowheads, dwarf bananas and Chinese evergreens.

For its part, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends opening the windows and letting in some good old-fashioned fresh air as the best antidote to breathing in off-gassed airborne toxins in both homes and offices.

But many modern buildings do not permit such exchanges between indoor and outdoor air, and it is in just these situations where houseplants can really make the difference.

Studies continue to show that plants can absorb and destroy common toxic chemicals found in homes, such as formaldehyde (and) benzene.

Plants can take low-level toxic chemicals often found in things such as carpets, furniture, appliances, computers and common cleaners and make them useful.

They take what is a toxic chemical to us, and they convert it into a source of energy and food for them.

Some plants do the trick better than others, such as palms, peace lilies and ficus on top of the list.

The Environmental Protection Agency isn't completely sold, saying it would take too many plants to really make a difference.

True, we don't live in a greenhouse or grows forests in our homes, but every little bit helps, doesn't it?

A couple of plants per room, maybe two or three for a living room or a den, should be sufficient to help refresh the air in your home."

Government officials say indoor contaminants, even at low levels, can cause allergic or respiratory reactions in some people.

Plant lovers also need to protect against mold, it's crucial not to over-water plants and laying aquarium gravel over the topsoil.

Fungus spores are all around us, airborne particals looking for a moist place to set up camp.

If your soil is to moist or covered, it makes the ideal place for fungus and allergens to grow.

Fungus knats don't mind either.

Top 9 Air Purifying Plants:

The following plants are most effective in removing potentially harmful chemicals-including those in paints, varnishes, dry cleaning fluids, car exhaust fumes and tobacco smoke-from the air in your home.

Dragon tree, Ivy, Ficus, Philodendrons, Spider plants, Peace lilies, Ferns, Chrysanthemums and Palms.

But clean air is only one benefit to house plants.

Plants Make You Happy:

House plants make people feel calmer and more optimistic.

Don't you feel better in a room full of plants than in a riged, bland room?

There is something sterile about a room with sharp edges and corners.

Rooms with live plants are alive and yet have a calming effect as well.

Don't you feel better when you are watering. trimming and even talking to your plants?

Studies have shown that hospital patients who face a window with a garden view recovered more quickly than those who had to look at a wall.

Hust like outdoor plants make us feel better all the way around.

There is great therapeutic qualities in your houseplants and you may not even know it.

Plants Fight Fatigue and Colds:

According to "University of Agriculture" in Norway, a study of indoor plants can reduce fatigue, coughs, sore throats and other cold-related illnesses by more than 30 percent.

Partially, by simply increasing humidity levels and decreasing dust.

Plants at the Office:

Even major corporations and work environments are beginning to catch on that adding plants indoors does wonders for employee health and morale.

According to one study published in "Rehabilitation Literature", a manufacturing company integrated plants into its office so that no employee would be more than 45 feet from greenery.

The result?

Company administrators said they noticed enhanced creativity and increased productivity in employees.

How Much Sunlight Do House Plants Need? People love houseplants for the elegance that they add to their homes. Apart from their decorative value serve the benefit of giving us a positive, vibrant and lively feel in the house.

The environment of the house feels fresh because of all the oxygen generated by these wonderful creations of nature.

Houseplants break up riged walls and corners.

Plants add depth and a feeling of life to any room.

But all to often we buy plants for the wrong reasons or not aware of light and growing conditions.

Many people think that houseplants being plants need light and soil for their growth.

Most of our houseplants come from rain forests, tropical and sub-tropical jungles.

plants that grow under the thick canopies and may never see direct sunlight for one minute in a natural habitat.

Plants that thrive in low to bright indirect light and high humidity.

You can do more harm to a plant by ignoring instructions.

Just by learning a few simple needs of your plants, you can have a green and thriving indoor garden.

Follow intructions for food and water and don't ignore lighting needs.

Bright light: A location in the house where there is a bright light will mostly be southern or western part of the house with an opening or a window. This place is ideal for houseplants as they would receive nice bright sunlight all day long without any hindrance. Again, care is advised in determining the position of the plant in the room; watch out for shadows from any household furniture etc. on the plant.

Indirect Light: This type of light generally comes from an eastern facing opening or interior part of a southern or western facing room.

Low light: Low lighting situations are generally a found in north facing rooms. Most rooms in the house suffer from a low light condition. Shadows casted on houseplants from furniture, trees etc also would also result in low light conditions for that plant.

Particularly in these spaces, houseplants, the suffer most and would growth slowly. A common solution to this problem would be to use sources of artificial lightning like lamps for illumination.

There are houseplanst for every lighting need, so every room in the house can have a plant growing.

If you are to busy and tend to ignore plants than look for one that thrives on that.

If you are like my Karen and kill off to many plants, find one that you can work with.

Karen is a wiz with African violets.

As Spring arrives, your plants needs change.

By knowing your plants, you will know how much to increase food, water and even some lighting needs.


This isn't a whole lot different from our outdoor gardens, now is it?

As Spring approaches you may have the urge to put your houseplants outside.

Before you do this, make sure the plant is adaptiable to the climate change.

You don't want to sit a plant out in direct sun after ir has been cooped up all winter.

Start out slowly by giving it some morning or late afternoon sun.

If you allow your plant to start outside all day and in the sun, just think of what happens to you your first time out in the afternoon sun after being cooped up all winter.

This holds true for sun lovers that you over wintered as well.

Treat your gereniums with tender care to start the season or you will have one big sun burned plant.

This especially holds true for your seedlings.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

Hard things are put in our way, not to stop us, but to call out our courage and strength.

-- Anonymous

Life can be hard at times, we all know that.

But, do you ever wonder why?

How often do you ask your self, "Why Me"?

No where is it written that life should be easy.

What fun would it be if life was easy and everything was handed to you?

You wouldn't know defeat or how to pick yourself up when you fail or fall.

Tasting victory after a series of defeats is sweet.

You wouldn't know that sweet feeling if things weren't hard for you.

Trials and tough spots make us stronger and better, if we learn from our setbacks and poor choices we often make.

At least you have a choice.

To often wildlife doesn't have that choice, life is over as quick as it starts.

If they survive an ordeal, you know that critter learns and passes it on.

When our daughter had her near fatal accident, we could've gotten angry at God or life in general.

We could've curled up in a corner and asked why or play the blame game.

But there wasn't time for that.

You spend a good part of your life loving and caring for someone and just like that, life changes.

What a helpless feeling to see your child in a coma with her face in a mangled mess.

Knowing if she lives, everything will be different from this point on.

I felt helpless because now she was in the hands of strangers.

Skilled men and women that were trained to help save lives.

I also had God to lean on and that is what he wants and what I needed.

After 10 and a half months in hospitals, we could've taken the easy road and put her in a special home.

But we knew there was a reason for all of this.

We needed to find out how this could make us better and stronger people.

Maybe we are to help others that experience the same situation (and we have).

Oh sure, Karen and I have had our down moments and today we still get frustrated at times.

Why not, our lives were forever altered.

We didn't ask for this to happen.

We aren't as free to travel or even go out on a date.

But, we still have our loving girl and she has taught me some patience and to be thankful for what I have.

God has shown us inner strength we wouldn't have discovered otherwise.

I think we came out of this stronger and better.

Besides that, I may not be writing this today, I may have been busy doing something else, somewhere else.

There is always someone worse off, now isn't there?

We are to learn life's lessons and all to often we must learn the hard way.

Each time you learn you are a bit stronger and victory is sweet.

Victory is a natural drug, a natural high.

I know you are up to the task.

You wont let a little frustration keep you down.


Whatever is blocking your path or maybe keeping you down, you will stare it down and conquer

you fears, challenges or whatever it may be.

Have faith in yourself,

I have faith in you.

Remember, you are unique, one of a kind.

No one has your specials gifts, but you.


Doesn't that make you want to smile?

Smiles also add to your strength and when you share them, you are growing even stronger.

You can't help but feel better about you, when you help others.

Now get out there and share your smile.

God's blessings and a wonderful week to you

Until next time my friend,

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers. Better yet, have them sign up so they can recieve their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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