By Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

House plants do more than clean our air, they can also boost our mood according to Mengmeng Gu, an associate professor of horticulture at Texas A&M University.

In an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the professor says plants can quickly improve our mood. 

It is not only the appearance of plants that improves our mood so quickly, but how they smell that can make a huge difference. Just think of a hospital room. Some lilies have such an overpowering perfume that it can make one nauseated in that small area. 

A study done during the pandemic by people who have to work from home found that participants who had house plants had significantly fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than those people who had no plants in their homes. 

Another scientist, Melinda Kunth, an assistant professor of horticulture at North Carolina State University, did studies on how house plants affect people. She found that “plants have a huge restrictive capacity whether it’s outdoors like in a yard or indoors with houseplants, nature can help us feel recharged and grounded.” Any gardener could have told her that. 

A theory called attention restoration states that seeing a plant can provide a spark of interest, redirect our attention, and restore our depleted mental and physical resources. This effect is supposed to renew positive emotions, increase productivity, and attention capacity. Wonder if this is effective on kids who often need their attention redirected. 

These experts even have suggestions as to which plants you should use. 

One 5 foot tall plant is as effective as 5 smaller foliage plants. As to color, in a study using English ivy, green-yellow and bright green leaves made people feel more cheerful but white-ish green leaves, resulted in more negative emotions. No wonder, they look sick. 

To reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, get flowering plants that have purple, red, pink or white blooms. Purple and green flowers were more effective in relaxing you, reducing anxiety and improving mood. Give your special someone red or yellow roses if they are ticked at you. They have a calming effect. 

There are some chores that need to be done in the first weeks of July. Stop using rhubarb but keep pulling off flowers. Also stop taking asparagus now. Both these plants need to recover for the rest of the summer. If you just cut the tops off some asparagus spears, cut the leftover stems to the soil line. Give both plants a small amount of fertilizer and water it in well. 

Thin your apples to one or two per clump and put a ziplock bag on the ones left. Cut a corner off for drainage. The reason to thin apples is that there are only 5 spots on each clump for an apple to form. If all 5 have an apple on them, the tree can’t start preparing to grow an apple on that clump next year. This is why you get apples only every other year. Bagging apples results in worm free and larger apples this year. It is like a mini greenhouse for the fruit. It also keeps the birds from picking at them. Don’t leave any apples on the ground as that is where the worms winter. 

Thought for the day. All gardening is good for you, even if its just houseplant gardening.