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Happy National Houseplant Appreciation Day!

Be kind to your houseplants today. This peace lily works hard, helping the indoor environment. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Be kind to your indoor green companions

It’s time to dust the ficus and show the peace lily some love. Why? It’s National Houseplant Appreciation Day.

Often ignored as part of the décor, indoor greenery does so much for us while asking little in return. The foliage helps clean the air, filtering out pollutants and carbon dioxide while adding a little extra oxygen. In addition, houseplants contribute a little moisture and extra humidity to our indoor air, creating a more comfortable environment (for them and us).

Besides helping indoor air quality, houseplants also have a therapeutic quality. We enjoy being around plants. They make us smile. They improve attitudes in both office and at home.

Mother-in-law's tongue is an old-
fashioned favorite that's happy
This day of recognition is credited to the Gardener’s Network ( ), which has been publishing an online gardening e-zine for nearly 20 years. It’s an idea that’s quickly catching on with special sales and events at nurseries. Green Acres Nursery, for example, is celebrating with a Houseplant-palooza sale.

National Houseplant Appreciation Day comes after the holiday hustle, when we finally have a chance to look around and notice our green companions.

This is how this commemoration started, according to the Garden Network:

“By the 10th of January, the holidays are a distant, happy memory. We have put the decorations away. Now, our houses all look kinda plain, and drab inside. As you look around the house, something catches your eye. It's over there, in the corner of the room. It's still green, but it sure looks dry. And, it’s drooping a bit. Why, it's a houseplant! Funny, but with all of the holiday hubabuloo, you've all but forgotten your plants.

“Well aren't your houseplants lucky that the 10th of January has arrived!? Today is THE day to get back to tending to, and loving each and every plant in your home. It's also a day to appreciate just how special and important houseplants are to you. As gardeners we need to have our hands in some dirt. Caring for them gives us that opportunity. After all, it's a long way to spring, when we can get out into the garden again.”

In California, we can still go outside and play in the dirt (or mud). But it’s a lot more comfortable indoors, playing with our houseplants.

How to mark Houseplant Appreciation Day?

* Start by checking soil moisture. Make sure your houseplants are well watered.

* Snip off dead foliage and show your plants some TLC.

* Dust the leaves; that helps the foliage function better.

* If possible, put your plants in the shower and give them a gentle indoor rain. That washes off dirt and grime that may have accumulated.

* Start some cuttings from your houseplants and share with friends.

* Get some more houseplants. The selection has never been better as more people discover the joy of indoor gardening. Find a new favorite or rediscover an old-time charmer.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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