Houseplants 101: The Benefits and Best Options

When it comes to one’s healing, health and happiness, houseplants are a pretty powerful force, especially for those who spend a great deal at time in the home or are homebound.

No longer just pretty décor, plants, ferns and flowers have found their way into many seniors’ overall care plans. While their main job is to help make breathing easier for patients by removing toxins from the air and upping oxygen levels, the additional advantages they offer can improve a senior’s overall quality of life:

  • Plants can lower one’s anxiety when recovering from an illness or surgery
  • Tending to living things helps empower seniors, especially those who are dependent on others
  • Researchers from NASA found indoor plants can improve concentration and productivity up to 15 percent
  • Plants help lower blood pressure and decrease one’s risk of colds and coughs
  • Gardening therapy, even on a small scale, can lower a senior’s risk of dementia by up to 36 percent

If your aging loved one is unable to participate in the activities they once enjoyed, growing and taking care of houseplants is a hobby that almost anyone can do, even with limited mobility. And the health benefits make it worthwhile for anyone, not just senior citizens.

Finding low-maintenance houseplants

Studies show that houseplants can give seniors a sense of control and boost their self-esteem as they watch their plants grow and thrive. Therefore, it’s important for you and your loved one to choose plants together and select ones that are indoor-friendly for best results. A few good options include:

Succulents – While they may be the plants of choice for trendy Millennials, succulents, like aloe, jade plants and hens-and-chicks, are ideal for anyone working on their green thumb since many are simple to care for. Seniors can easily maintain a few plants or create an indoor succulent garden.

Peace lily – The peace lily requires a living space that mimics its home in the rainforest—a warm environment, lots of water and little light. When properly cared for, its white blooms make it a beautiful accent to any home. However, it can be poisonous to pets, so use caution in a home with cats or dogs.

Devil’s ivy – Otherwise known as a pothos plant, devil’s ivy gives your loved one creative control over how they want their plant displayed. Depending on how it’s planted and cared for, devil’s ivy can climb up a trellis, sit in a traditional flower pot on a shelf or table, or flow down from a hanging basket.

African violets – For those who prefer colorful flowers to ferns and ivy, African violets add a pop of pink, purple or yellow year-round. Just be sure to avoid watering the leaves and flowers to prevent discoloration and set them next to a west- or south-facing window so they can soak up the sunshine!

Snake plant – The snake plant, also referred to as mother-in-law’s tongue, adds visual interest to a room with its vertical leaves that reach for the sky and its snake-like stripes. Best of all, it requires little care—just keep out of direct light and water only when the soil is dry.

Other easy-to-care-for houseplant varieties include peperomia, spider plants, English ivy, asparagus fern, and calathea. To find the ideal plant for your loved one’s home, talk with a St. Louis garden store or other local plant expert. They’ll not only provide recommendations for hearty plants, but will also share tips for keeping them their healthiest in the months to come.

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