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    6 Houseplants To Help You De-stress….!

    When your indoors are ready for a refresh, here are 6 houseplants to help you de-stress. Stuck at home during a pandemic, we all need less stress and anxiety in our lives these days!

    As a Designer, one could suggest a dozen different ways to achieve the same, but if you’re looking for something that doesn’t involve a lot of time and resources – two things that we’re all trying to preserve in these unnatural times – well then, turn to nature….! 

    Indoor plants not only add esthetics to a space, they also make your home feel more cozy and welcoming. Additionally, they’re good for our mental and physical health. According to a NASA study report houseplants can reduce indoor air pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde. Some plants can remove high concentrations of indoor air pollutants such as cigarette smoke, organic solvents, and possibly radon. Moreover, recent research shows that plants have the ability to boost mood and creativity, as well as reduce stress. However, how to decide which houseplants are worth the care and investment and which to stay away from. Read on….!

    Gone are the times when having an indoor garden while living in a small apartment was not a possibility. We are all have been familiar with a room that was either too dark, or too damp, or an overly dry environment that is not exactly a suitable plant habitat. These days, a wide array of plant species are available that have been known to thrive in the care of apartment dwellers time and time again.

    However, before you rush out the door or off to your computer to start checking off your own list of top 6 houseplants to help you de-stress, sit down in the room where they are going to go and take some mental notes. Notice the way daylight enters the room. Indoor plants that prefer bright light generally need south-facing windows, where the most concentrated light is available. East or west-facing windows are also fine and here is where you put plants that don’t need a lot of direct sunlight. if you don’t have windows or sufficient natural light, nevertheless you can still own houseplants. Just get an LED grow light!

    Many different types of plant lights are available, including floor lights and lights you can clip to an end table or bookshelf. The good news is that plenty of plants tolerate low light conditions. Also, if your pets are nibblers, buy non-toxic plants.  So without further ado, here is my list of the top 6 houseplants to help you de-stress.

    Dragon Trees or Dracaenas

    These are very easy to grow tall indoor plants. If you are a plant newbie or a very busy person, this is the plant for you. These plants enjoy moderate to low light conditions. Do not place in full sun as it will burn the leaves. 

    Dracaenas are drought tolerant, so you don’t have to water them very often. Overwatering is one of the main causes of death for the plant. Depending on how much light this plant receives, you can water it every two to three weeks. 

    Dragon Trees are sensitive to fluoride – which as it turns out, happens to be a form of industrial waste product that humas are sensitive to, as well – so when it comes to your plants, it is always best to water them with distilled water if your tap water has high fluoride levels. This plant is an excellent air purifier helping remove formaldehyde, xylene and trichloroethylene from the air.

    Areca Palms

    These are different from palms such as the Parlor Palm, so try not to confuse the two because the level of care for each is quite different than the other.  Areca Palms thrive in well bright areas but with indirect sunlight. The leaves will turn yellow if exposed to too much direct sun. These plants don’t do well in low light rooms either.

    This is not your plant if you are a casual gardener with nary a green thumb because this one does do not do okay if neglected. It needs to be watered often enough to keep the soil moist in between waterings. Do not let its soil dry through.

    These palms look great as indoor tall plants adding a slightly exotic slightly tropical wow factor to your space at their full height of 6 to 7 feet. However, because of that, these can be expensive to buy but since they grow relatively fast – roughly 6″ to 10″ per year – you can probably purchase a table top plant and let it grow. 

    Birds of Paradise

    Aka Strelitzias are comparably easy to grow and maintain among all the indoor tall plants. They grow fast and is a gorgeous plant to display – with leaves that unfold as they grow.  It is a surprisingly adaptable plant that grows well in low light and direct bright light conditions.

    Bird of Paradise thrive in moist soil conditions but make sure the soil is not too soggy. It is okay to water once a week from spring to fall then let the top dry out just a tad in winter before you water it again. It is better not to soak it in too much water.

    Having said that, since this is a tropical plant, it will enjoy regular misting to increase the level of humidity required for this one to thrive.

    The African Milk Tree

    This is a low maintenance indoor tall plant. The only thing this one needs to survive is bright light. This is your plant if you have full time work or babies – or both!!

    Watering should be limited to once a month indoors but keep in mind this plant will die if watered too much.

    This is an ideal indoor tall plant for people who do not have green thumbs, or has a busy life with very little time to care for plants.


    These trendy plants are not just favored because of their photogenic look but because they’re pretty easy to maintain. Expect to see a new leaf weekly in the warmer season. Moreover, you can propagate them – split off a leaf with a node and re-pot or gift to a friend to grow in their own home.

    Large-leafed philodendron plants, including the monstera – which is the most photographed one of them all – need water every one to two weeks, allowing for the soil to dry out between waterings. This is your plant if your place doesn’t get direct sunlight. This one just needs a spot that receives bright to medium indirect light.

    Monstera was among the most effective at reducing air pollutants, like benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, in the Nasa study.

    The Fiddle Leaf Fig

    Last but not the least, of all the 6 houseplants to help you de-stress, this is my personal favorite and at Tori Black Homes we use it often in clients’ homes – either in groups with other plants or singly. They blend in subtly with most modern and/or traditional décor without making your living room look tropical or majestic. These may be sold as small plants or as tall indoor plants. 

    While the smaller size plants are widely available for purchase, the tall trees are a bit harder to find and perhaps because of it’s recent popularity, tend to be more expensive than Palms, Birds of Paradise or other tall plants.

    Fiddle Leaf Figs are easy to grow and care for but it works better if you find the perfect spot for it in your home and get the hang of the watering schedule. These plants need a lot of bright light so put it near a south-facing window and let it catch the morning light. Water it once a week.

    Place your plants in a cluster to highlight a corner of your living room room or place one graceful tall plant in a pot or basket strategically placed near a large window. Decorate with a raffia coffee table or an indoor swing if you are going for the Boho Chic look.  Alternately, furnish the room with a deep cushioned velvet sofa and camel leather armchair with hints of aged brass if you want a glam Hollywood Regency look. Or instead, add one single tall plant to a room with streamlined Scandinavian furniture, linen or burlap curtains and soft fluffy cotton pillows for a minimal Modern European look.

    If you would like to learn about growing edible plants such as salad greens, cherry tomatoes, and microgreens in your indoor kitchen and herb garden, see my tips on How to Create an Indoor Edible Winter Garden.

    Happy decorating….and healthy eating!  

    Photo credits – Scandinavian sofa and plant image courtesy Toris Design Box – 7 Paths to Serenity in Your Home. Dragon Tree in window image courtesy – Bohemian bedroom with Palm image courtesy – My Domain. Blue dining room with pair of giant Birds of Paradise and African Milk Tree images courtesy – Balcony Garden Web. Living room with black & white striped rug and Fiddle Leaf Fig image courtesy – Decor Aid. Music Room with Eames chair photo credit Tori Black Homes.

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    How to create an edible indoor Winter Garden

    A winter garden indoors or out, takes a bit of planning. You can create a welcome leafy corner in your home – even in the dead of winter, even in the smallest of spaces.

    How to Plant-
    You can either buy seedlings or you can grow them from the seed, which takes more time. You can save seeds of peppers and tomatoes, lemon and orange seeds. Dry the seeds for up to two weeks before planting them.

    Where to plant –
    Buy some small to mid-sized clay, aluminum or plastic pots. Buy lava rocks and potting soil mix from Lowes, Home Depot or a plant nursery. Now find a south-facing window in a sunny corner of your home for the placement of your indoor plants, and you’re off to a great start!

    What to plant – There are quite a few choices.
    Herbs such as Basil, Oregano, Sage, Lavender, Mint, Thyme, Rosemary, and other edible herbs may be grown year-round in small containers on a kitchen window sill.

    Basil – Some people grow basil for its leaves and remove the flowers. However, you can also sprinkle basil flowers on a salad or over pasta as a garnish because they are edible. They also make great tea! The flowers taste similar to the leaves but have a slightly milder flavor. You can still eat the leaves after flowering, but remove the stems as it develops a bitter flavor.

    Sage – When the sage plants are small, you should mist them with water to keep the soil moist. This is true of most herbs. However, when they reach maturity, you should only water the plant when the soil surrounding the plant is dry to the touch.

    To add herbs to a dish, cut an entire stem or just pinch a leaf at a time.

    Mint – Mint performs well in sun-lit areas but may some protection from direct sun. They can grow to be 1 or 2 feet tall either indoors in a pot or even in a bottle of water. I like to add mint leaves as a garnish to my breakfast scrambled eggs. It adds texture and color as well as adding an element of excitement to the humble eggs. Click the image below to see my recipe for Northern Indian Spicy Scrambled Eggs AKA Egg Bhurji garnished with a handful of mint leaves for contrasting textures and flavor.

    Rosemary – Thrives in sunny locations that receive 6-8 hours of direct sun. It is best to water it when the soil feels dry. Re-pot as the plant gets larger and the roots fill the container. Needs frequent pruning. Cut off stems with a pair of small kitchen scissors to use in cooking as needed. Rosemary and thyme are good choices for stuffing game hens and a popular garnish for roast chicken.

    Cherry Tomatoes – These small tomatoes, grow on fast-growing plants and usually produce high yields in about 60 to 70 days. However, tomatoes are a summer plant so winter tomatoes will grow less prolifically than the summer varieties. When planting them in pots, a container measuring roughly 15- 20 inches in diameter is ideal. The container should be able to hold 5 gallons of soil for best results. Be sure to use one pot per plant. Tomatoes normally need at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day, but that’s not possible when you’re growing them indoors in winter. They respond well to artificial light.

    Citrus – Choose a two-to three-year-old dwarf lemon tree if you wish to see it produce fruits and blossoms right away. Select a deep potting container with adequate drainage. Or as an inexpensive alternative, use seeds of lemons from the grocery store to grow your lemon tree. First, fill a bowl with water and soak the seeds for eight hours. This will help speed up germination. Spread the lemon seeds evenly over the soil surface while they’re still moist. Buy a slightly acidic potting mix.

    Soil should be well-drained for lemon trees. Keep it moist, but not wet. Select a saucer large enough to fit under the container. Find a sunny spot in your home for your tree to grow. Lemon trees require full sunlight.

    Coffee grounds are a good plant food for lemon trees. Every 1-2 months place mulch near the trunk. Hard-boiled eggshells, are also good as they are an excellent source of calcium. This will make give the citrus trees shiny green leaves.

    Microgreens –Microgreens germinate and grow quicker than regular varieties. They have more nutrient density than mature leaves, although this varies from species to species, and soil conditions. Microgreens may need a grow light.

    Use a shallow tray for planting. Fill the tray with organic soil. Place in a sunny spot in a south-facing window or use some LED lights. However, LEDs have many different industrial applications, so they’re not all suited for plant growth. To grow plants, you need LED grow-lights that emit a specific color spectrum and a sufficient intensity level. During the first 2-5 days, the sprouts don’t require light. After 2-5 days, the microgreens should be ready for indirect sunlight. Be careful not to expose the plants to direct, hot sunlight as this can damage the delicate microgreens.

    Microgreen Seeds – Sow the seeds thickly, then gently tamp into the growing medium. Sow small seeds at a density of approximately 10–12 seeds per square inch of tray surface, and larger or medium-sized seeds at a density of 6–8 seeds per square inch. Or you may opt to grow your microgreens in water. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil where your plants live in an aquatic-based environment and receive their nutrients and oxygen from water, instead of from the soil.

    Some popular microgreens are Kale, Watercress Spinach, Arugula, Radish, Beets, Dill, etc. These make for fresh, ready to cook ingredients for delicious meals all year round such as Watercress Sandwich or Spinach & Arugula Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese and my Spicy Kale & Eggs – check out recipe by clicking on the above image .

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