Houseplants are suddenly cool.
The “indoor generation” — millennials who are connected to their cell phones, tablets and video games, but disconnected from nature — are becoming plant parents.
According to Garden Media Group, about 90 percent of people worldwide spent about 22 hours a day indoors without enough daylight or fresh air. Americans spend roughly 93 percent of their time indoors or in vehicles, while children spend an average of less than 1 hour per day outside, 50 percent less than their parents did as children.
Pretty shocking, isn’t it? Or in millennial slang, “I’m shook.” But in an effort to connect with nature and improve emotional well-being, millennials are adopting indoor plants. They are responsible for 31 percent of houseplant sales, Garden Media Group reports. Pinterest searches are up 90 percent for cactus, tropical, terrarium and other plants.
So in the spirit of the holidays, I’m offering some tips for caring for those indoor gardens.
1. Most houseplants prefer daytime temps at 65 to 75 F and nights at 60 to 65 F. Protect from drafts and heating vents.
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2. Humidity is hard to find indoors in winter. The average houseplant needs 40 to 50 percent humidity. A humidifier will help, or collect plants in one space, place a pail filled with pebbles and water into the mix — and remember to refill it as water evaporates.
3. Indoor plants often go dormant in winter and require less watering. Poke your finger in the soil or lift the pot. If the pot is light or the soil is dry, water thoroughly. Don’t wet foliage or let plants stand in water.
4. Skip fertilizing until spring growth begins.
5. Quarantine a new plant for a time to make sure you haven’t carried home any hitchhikers. Telltale signs: Mealy bugs, aphids and scale leave sticky or glistening “honeydew” on foliage, as well as on the area near the plant. Lightly swab foliage with a cotton ball dipped in alcohol.
5. Clean foliage absorbs humidity better than dusty foliage. Sometimes grim can feel almost greasy on plant leaves. A weak solution of dishwashing detergent and water cuts through the grim. Dip a soft cloth into the solution and gently wipe leaves.
6. Plants need a good source of indirect light.