En español | When winter's shortened daylight threatens to get me down, I turn to my indoor gardens for a lift.
See also: 6 ways to feel happier, be healthier.
The sunporch of my New Jersey home becomes a tropical getaway in January; the bromeliads, flowering maple, bird of paradise, camellia, and Boston fern are leafy reminders that spring will soon return. Small plants like hoya, prayer plant, and mistletoe fig in the kitchen window thrive in the humidity that rises from the sink. An assortment of moisture-loving ferns have found happy homes in the bathroom.
Lately it seems that everyone who can is growing vegetables outdoors. But what to do when the growing season draws to a close and you've plucked the last butternut squash from the backyard patch or community garden?
Bring your enthusiasm indoors!
Likewise, apartment and condo dwellers should make a preemptive strike against the gray days ahead by devising a green space they can enjoy all year-round. You might not get the same cardio workout you would from digging, planting, and weeding outdoors, but all aspects of gardening pay unique benefits. Tending plants soothes our souls, lowers blood pressure, and may even extend life.
Wonderfully convenient, indoor gardens can be as ambitious or simple as you desire — or your home can accommodate. Fans of what I call the Tarzan style have rooms filled with big-leafed philodendrons, Norfolk Island pines, dieffenbachias, and dracaenas. In a smaller space with a sunny window, a jewel-box garden with miniature begonias and African violets in exquisite glazed pottery can make a colorful statement. Or invigorate your dwelling with a "decorator plant" such as a Kentia palm, Chinese evergreen, or spathiphyllum.
Some of you are saying, "But I have a black thumb when it comes to houseplants." I hear that even from experienced outdoor gardeners. Find the right plant for the right place and give it TLC, then admire your bright-green thumb. Here are some home-tested tactics for a successful indoor garden.
Next: The eight steps. >>