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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 Oct. 2

Plan to make the most of the mild weather in your garden.

* October is the best month to plant trees and shrubs.

* October also is the best time to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to planting holes or beds, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

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