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Happy National Houseplant Appreciation Day!

Time to show your indoor garden some love

These houseplants are thriving in the indirect light from a north-facing window.

These houseplants are thriving in the indirect light from a north-facing window. Kathy Morrison

It’s time to show some TLC to our indoor gardens. Why? Jan. 10 is National Houseplant Appreciation Day.

Our assortment of ferns, orchids and other tropical plants do more than decorate our rooms. They help keep us people healthier and happier.

The plants that make the best houseplants like the same conditions we do – temperatures in the 60s or 70s with bright in-direct light. They don’t ask much – weekly watering, a little fertilizer and an occasional dusting. In return, they offer a lot of positives.

Their 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 and cooler environment – for them and us.

Besides improving 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.

This day of recognition is credited to the Gardener’s Network (www.gardenersnet.com), which has been publishing an online gardening e-zine for 24 years. Nurseries and garden clubs spread recognition of this plant-centric commemoration.

Headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., the Gardener’s Network saw Houseplant Appreciation Day as a way snowbound gardeners could get their hands dirty in midwinter. Jan. 10 was chosen because it was after the holidays, likely after the exit of the Christmas tree.

Houseplants have never been more popular. With people stuck at home, the Covid-19 pandemic launched houseplant mania nationwide. Almost four years later, houseplant sales remain strong as people discovered they love their indoor jungles.

Low-maintenance plants are the best-sellers. That includes ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), pothos and philodendron – especially variegated varieties. Also popular are indoor bloomers such as hoyas, moth and dendrobium orchids, anthuriums and dwarf bird of paradise.

Among the most efficient plants at cleaning air and improving air quality are peace lilies (Spathiphyllum).

How to celebrate 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.

For more advice on houseplants: https://www.gardenersnet.com/hplants/index.htm.

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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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