The power of houseplants

Houseplant (Photo by Taylor Burnes)

Houseplant (Photo by Taylor Burnes)

Jackie Bastianon was the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) 2018 communications intern for the Alberta Region. She is currently studying journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa and hopes to use her writing skills to compel people to care about the environment as much as she does.

I’ve always loved plants. I like the colours and the smells, and I love the feeling I get when I’m surrounded by them both inside and outside the house.

It turns out I’m not the only one. There are many positive effects that plants have on our mental and physical health. 

Mental health benefits

Last year I started covering the entire window of my bedroom with plants, and I experienced some great benefits first-hand. Having greenery in my room makes me feel more relaxed and happier. This was especially true in the winter when there can be long periods of time with no leaves or flowers on plants, and the colour green seems to have disappeared from many gardens for months on end.

In my office at NCC in Edmonton, I had several potted plants next to me in the window and I felt as though looking at them made me happier, which helped to improve my attitude and ability to focus on the tasks at hand.

Types of plants

Plants do need some love and attention to thrive, but some are easier and more resilient than others. Unfortunately, my love for plants doesn’t automatically give me a green thumb, and I am notoriously bad at taking care of them.

Last year I decided to try and improve my green thumb and I took to the internet to research some plants that are easy to take care of to see what I could learn. So far they’re all still green and growing!

Here are some plants around my house:

Money plant

This plant has an unusual braided trunk and emerald green oval-shaped leaves. Some believe that this plant brings financial success, hence the name. Regardless of whether or not this plant makes you rich, it’s easy to take care of, and its presence is sure to enrich your space.

Place it in a sunny area such as on a windowsill or side table near a window. Allow the plant to get quite dry before watering and make sure to allow to excess water to drain out the bottom so the roots don’t rot.

Jade plant

Jade plants are succulents and very popular plants for your home or office. They have green, oval-shaped leaves and thick, wood-like stems that give them an aesthetically pleasing appearance. They are easy to take care of and can live for a very long time if you place them in an area with at least four hours of direct sunlight a day and give them a generous amount of water ever few weeks. If the leaves begin to spot or dry up, the plant likely needs more water, but fear not! Jade plants are very resilient and if given the right care can last decades.

Herbs

The only thing better than having a plant as a decoration is having a plant that you can also eat! This is why herbs such as basil are some of my favourite houseplants. Basil’s green, aromatic, oval-shaped leaves can be harvested and eaten in dishes like pasta and spring rolls. Basil loves sunshine, so it’s usually best to put it on a windowsill in the kitchen and water it once a day. If the plant begins to wilt, just give it an extra helping of water and it should bounce back within a day or so.

Creating a green space

We all have busy lives and we don’t all have time to make time to get outside every day, so try bringing a little bit of the outside world inside instead. Don’t wait until the next time you’re having an off day to start decorating your space with greenery — start today! You can usually buy the above plants at grocery stores, farmers’ markets, flower shops and greenhouses. Start relaxing and reconnecting with nature, one potted plant at a time.

The Conservation Internship Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Summer Work Experience program.

Supporter Spotlight

Renew your support for 2020