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Time to thank your indoor garden

National Houseplant Appreciation Day (and Week) spotlight benefits of growing things inside


Peace lily
Peace lilies are natural air purifiers. (Photo
courtesy Green Acres Nursery)




Cooped up indoors? It's time to show your green companions some love.

This is National Houseplant Appreciation Week, culminating in National Houseplant Appreciation Day on Sunday, Jan. 10.

While urging us to give a little TLC to our favorite pothos or spathiphyllum, this special week is really about awareness for all that houseplants can do.

Sure, they brighten up our windowsills or office spaces with some comforting greenery. But they actually can help people breathe easier by improving indoor air quality. Plants such as spathiphyllum -- the familiar peace lily -- are natural workhorses at filtering indoor air, converting carbon dioxide to oxygen and removing harmful substances such as formaldehyde and benzene.

Plants also release moisture into the air. These green humidifiers help make our indoor air feel more refreshing, countering the effects of dry heat from furnaces. European studies have found that the added humidity from houseplants can help reduce dry skin, soothe sore throats and combat colds.

Houseplants really do help people feel better. A Kansas State study found that hospital patients with plants in their rooms actually healed faster than patients with no plants.

Besides those physical benefits, houseplants offer small doses of garden therapy. It's relaxing to care for something and watch it grow.

The Garden Network gets credit for creating National Houseplant Appreciation Day, which always falls on Jan. 10.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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