Month: September 2020

Creating a Fall Vegetable Garden

local vegetables

The cooler days of autumn may mean the end of tomato season, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to put away your gardening tools. Vegetable gardening can bring you just as much satisfaction in the fall as during the spring and summer, as long as you follow the guidelines for your area and climate. And fall vegetable gardening has some unexpected advantages, too. Numerous vegetables actually grow better in the fall, when they don’t have to withstand the stress of blasting heat and there’s more moisture in the air. Some even produce richer colors and stronger flavors – beets, for example, attain a deeper red and sweeter flavor in the fall. And there are other advantages as well, such as fewer insects and less competition from invasive weeds.

Start your fall vegetable garden planning by making a list of what you’d like to plant. The most important question, of course: What do you like to eat? Another important factor to take into account is the date your region typically experiences the first frost, and how cold it’s likely to get. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, greens like kale, lettuce, and spinach, and root vegetables like turnips and carrots are all good fall choices for most geographic regions of the U.S. Other popular winter vegetables, depending on region, include radishes, onions, peas, and more.

Before choosing varieties, check the length of its growing season, which is typically listed as “days to maturity.” This information is particularly important for those who live in cold-winter climates, because your plants need to reach harvest before it gets too cold for them to survive. 

Some vegetables withstand winter cold better than others – for example, carrots can survive temperatures as low as 15 degrees, and cauliflower has been known to survive down to 10 degrees. You can also help your garden withstand freezing by covering it with a row cover, or even with an old sheet, when you expect temperatures to drop.

Next, you’ll need to revitalize your soil, which has been depleted of nutrients by summer’s growing frenzy. Turn over the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches and add plenty of compost or a good fertilizer that contains fish oil, manure, or other natural enrichments. Mix it in thoroughly until the soil looks dark and crumbly.  

Unless you live in the southwest or another dry or desert climate, your garden may need less water now, and in some areas fall weather can be frustratingly unpredictable. For those reasons, fall is the perfect time to install an Orbit B-hyve Smart Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Timer, which uses proprietary WeatherSense technology to compile local weather data and adjust the watering schedule based on these predictions. WeatherSense also takes into account soil type, sun exposure, and how level your garden is to deliver just the right amount of moisture.

Start a vegetable garden now, and you’ll have the enjoyment of a harvest to brighten the darker, shorter days to come.

How Nature Makes You More Creative

Camping

Camping

In 2011, Dr. David Strayer sent 56 people out into the American wilderness. 

The locales varied — some people went to Alaska or Washington, others to Colorado — but the rules were the same for everyone: four days backpacking in the wild, disconnected from society. 

The hikers spent their days walking through the trees, swimming in lakes, setting up campgrounds, and sitting around fires. 

On the morning of day four, they took a cognitive test. To score well, they had to make unusual mental connections that required them to think outside the box — a measure of creativity. 

The results were extraordinary. After just three days in nature, the hikers showed a 50% increase in creative thinking[*]. They were less rigid in their problem solving and were able to dream up connections that they normally couldn’t make. They were quantifiably more creative.

How Nature Turns On Creativity

When the results got back to Dr. Strayer, he was thrilled. Strayer is a cognitive neuroscientist, and a famous one at that. In 2010, his groundbreaking research on how your brain responds to texting while driving (hint: it’s not good) earned him a spot on Oprah’s couch. 

In fact, most of Strayer’s research focuses on distracted driving and how the brain responds to multitasking. A study about nature and the brain was well outside his main field.

But Strayer had always been a nature lover. He would go for hikes to clear his head, and he found that he got many of his best ideas after a few days of camping or backpacking. When a friend brought up similar experiences, Strayer decided to find out why nature might make people more creative. 

Several years (and many studies) later, we have a fairly good answer. There are a few things about nature that turn on your brain’s creative side. 

Your Rational Brain Gets A Break

Your frontal cortex is the rational, goal-oriented part of your brain. It governs things like attention, planning, and organization.

During the average workday, your frontal cortex gets quite a bit of exercise. It turns on when you plan your schedule, send emails, coordinate meetings, complete projects, and so on. For many of us, the rational part of the brain is often working overtime. 

In order to stay on task, your frontal cortex needs order. It doesn’t like daydreaming or strange thoughts. It wants to keep you on the rails so you get things done — so when it’s active, it spends energy inhibiting the creative parts of your brain[*]. 

Out in nature, there’s not much planning or scheduling to do. As a result, your frontal cortex can take a well-deserved break. 

And when your frontal cortex powers down, the creative parts of your brain are free to turn on. After a couple days outdoors, your brain begins making connections that it might not have made in an office setting. Nature allows your brain to settle into more creative thinking. 

Nature Offers Inspiration

Albert Einstein famously said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” 

The world’s greatest physicist is not alone. Throughout history, writers, painters, composers, scientists, and philosophers have credited nature as a source of inspiration. 

Today, drawing creative ideas from nature has become a studied field. It’s called bioinspiration, and it’s a strategy used by bioengineers, architects, artists, and everyone in between[*]. 

Nature is full of paradoxes. It’s both simple and complex, familiar and otherworldly, beautiful and terrifying. It seems to defy reason, yet functions in a perfectly rational way. 

Observing the natural world can expand your mind and is often a wellspring of creative inspiration. 

Final Thoughts

Since his groundbreaking study, Dr. Strayer has seen several other labs replicate his results: a couple days in nature makes you about 50% more creative[*]. 

Today, Strayer is doing more in-depth research into how our brains respond to the natural world. But it sounds like he’s already pretty convinced of nature’s benefits. In an interview after his first study published, he offered simple advice: “Go outside for three days and turn your phone off.” 

If you’re looking for some creative inspiration, his advice may be worth taking.

Optimizing Your Waterflow

In the heat of summer, water usage becomes a hot topic (sorry!) as gardeners seek to keep plants and lawns green and healthy without running up astronomical water bills. And water conservation is becoming an urgent concern, as 40 out of 50 state water managers expect their states to experience water shortages in the coming years, according to one report. So, what to do? Use water more wisely of course! And these 5 strategies will help you do it, while keeping your plants and lawn healthier and happier along the way.

Use Smart Tech to Customize Water Use

Imagine a sprinkler system that knows there’s a storm coming before you do and turns itself off. That’s the beauty of the B-hyve Smart Indoor/Qutdoor Irrigation Controller from Orbit, which collects local weather data using WeatherSense technology and automatically adjusts your watering schedule to accommodate. When manual operation is preferred, B-hyve smart timers also allow you to set up and switch between several watering programs for maximum flexibility. And you can control remotely from your smartphone — Android or iPhone — from anywhere in the world! 

Get Greater Control of Lawn Sprinklers

Lawns require frequent watering to keep your grass lush and soft. But if you use a hose-end sprinkler, chances are you occasionally forget to turn it off and wind up wasting water. Luckily, there’s a solution for that, the B-hyve Smart Hose Watering Timer, which takes care of the remembering for you. There’s a smart timer for underground sprinkler systems, too: the B-hyve XR smart indoor/outdoor sprinkler timer.

Set Up Your Plants to Water Themselves

Self-watering hacks are all over the internet, with DIY suggestions ranging from putting plants in a bathtub full of water to using upside-down soda bottles and rope wicks. Products for sale run from decorative stakes and bulbs to sophisticated self-watering pots. While these products won’t necessarily minimize your water use, they will allow you to get away for a few days of vacation. 

Monitor Your Usage Before the Water Company Does

Avoid an unpleasant surprise when the water bill comes by tracking your water usage on an ongoing basis with the Orbit Hose Water Flow Meter. Designed to fit any standard garden hose, this simple tool tracks each watering episode as well as total water consumption. Or track all the water usage in your home with the Flume Smart Water Flow Monitor, which can alert you to leaks and overuse. 

Don’t Let Site Conditions Steal Your Water

Every garden has its own unique characteristics when it comes to soil, slope, sun and shade and these four S’s have a major effect on water use. For example, clay soils absorb water much more slowly than sandy soils and may need to be watered at intervals in order to reach the roots. Interval watering is likewise helpful in a hillside lawn to prevent wasteful runoff. Knowing your yard profile is key to a healthy lawn and reducing water waste.  B-hyve smart watering controllers allow you to input your soil type and amount of incline to calculate optimum water use.

By putting as many of these practices as you can into place, you just might out-smart your water company.

A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening

Family in Garden

Family in GardenIn the last decade, a new hobby has taken hold in America: gardening. 

More and more people are discovering the joys of keeping a garden. A recent study found that since 2009[*]:

  • 17% more Americans have started gardening
  • 63% more millennials have started gardening
  • 33% of households grow some of their own food

Why the sudden upswing in gardening? It may be that people want to eat better produce. It could be a desire to spend more time outdoors in an increasingly indoor world. Or it could be the simple pursuit of beauty — the pleasure of seeing a marigold bloom or a sapling grow its first leaf. 

Whatever the reason, gardening is a relaxing and productive hobby, and it’s becoming more popular than ever. 

If you want to start gardening, this article has everything you need. It covers all the basics, including the following sections:

  1. Choose your plants
  2. Find your growing season
  3. What your plant needs to grow
  4. Basic gardening tools
  5. Plant your garden
  6. Water your garden

Gardening may seem overwhelming at first. Just relax and take your time going through this guide. You’ll be growing your first plant in no time. 

Step 1: Choose Your Plants

The first step in gardening is choosing what plants you want to grow. In order to choose, you have to know your planting zone

Plants are sensitive to their environment, especially when it comes to temperature. A palm tree won’t thrive in the arctic and a delicate spring flower will burn up in desert heat. 

Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a planting zone tool that uses temperature data to help you figure out which plants will thrive in your area. You just put in your zip code and the tool tells you which planting zone (also called a hardiness zone) you live in, from 1-11. 

Most seeds have ideal planting zones listed on the packet. You can also do a quick Google search to find good plants for your area. 

Example

Let’s say you live in Rowe, Massachusetts and you want to grow vegetables. 

You put your zip code (01367) into the USDA planting zone tool and discover that you’re in planting zone 5b. 

A quick Google search of “zone 5b vegetables” reveals that asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and a host of other plants will thrive in your garden. 

Now you know what to grow. The next step is figuring out when to start planting. 

Step 2: Find Your Growing Season

Frosts — sudden freezes from a drop in temperature — can kill your plants before they’ve had a chance to grow. They happen throughout winter and usually end in spring.

A growing season is the time between the last spring frost and the first autumn frost. During your growing season, plants will thrive because they’re safe from frosts (though some especially hardy plants, like pine trees and other evergreens, can survive year-round with no issues). 

Again, there’s an easy tool to figure out your growing season. The Farmer’s Almanac growing tool will tell you first and last frost dates, as well as the length of time between them. As long as you plant in that window, your plants should be safe (unless there’s an unseasonably late or early frost). 

Once you know your growing season, you have to figure out how long your plants take to grow. Arugula, for example, grows from a seed in 3-4 weeks, while celery takes a full 16 weeks. 

You want to plan ahead to make sure your plants grow before the last frost of the year. Otherwise they may die before they bloom or are ready to harvest. 

Example

Let’s continue with the Rowe, Massachusetts example. You’re in planting zone 5b, and you’ve decided to grow beets. 

First, you go to the Farmer’s Almanac growing tool and type in your zip code (01367). You see that the last spring frost of the year is May 16th, and the first autumn frost is September 24th. That leaves you with a growing season of 127 days in between. 

A Google search of “beets growing time” reveals that beets take 45-60 days to grow, from seed to harvest. 

That means the latest you can plant beets is 60 days before September 24th, the first autumn frost. You need to plant your beets by July 26th. 

Step 3: What Your Plant Needs To Grow

Every plant needs three things to grow: 

  • Sun 
  • Water
  • Soil nutrients

Balancing these three elements is the key to gardening. Each plant is unique — some need lots of sun and not much water, while others are constantly thirsty but thrive in the shade. 

Here’s how to harness sun, water, and soil to help your plants grow.

Sun

Plants absorb sunlight through a process called photosynthesis — they convert sunlight into energy that helps them grow. 

Most plants fall into one of three categories:

 

  • Direct sunlight. This means 6+ hours per day of full, uninterrupted sunlight. Many fruits and vegetables fall into this category. 

 

 

  • Partial shade. Some sun, maybe from morning sunlight, with shade throughout the hottest parts of the day. Many spring flowers do best with partial shade. 

 

 

  • Full shade. Minimal sunlight, with protection from the sun for most of the day. Ferns, mosses, ivies, and delicate shrubs often thrive in the shade. 

 

Does your yard get full, direct sunlight for most of the day? You’ll want to choose plants that thrive in sunlight, or make artificial shade by draping a shade cloth over plants that prefer sun protection. 

Is your yard shady for most of the day? Look for plants that prefer cooler, darker climates. 

Most plants and seeds list their sun requirements on their packaging. You can also always do some online research. 

Water

Plants convert sunlight, carbon dioxide from the air, and hydrogen from water into sugar, their main source of energy. 

Without water, your plants won’t be able to make food, and they won’t grow. 

Just like with sunlight, different plants need different amounts of water. Some are quite thirsty and want water every day, while others can go days or even weeks without a watering. 

You can find out a plant’s specific water needs by searching online. 

Soil Nutrients

All the other nutrients a plant needs come from soil. A plant lays down roots, and when you water the soil, essential minerals dissolve into the water. Then the roots drink up the water, nourishing the plant so it can grow.

There are two main things to think about when it comes to soil:

 

  • Nutrients. Plants need 13 essential minerals to grow. If your soil doesn’t have certain nutrients (and many soils don’t), your plant will struggle to survive. For that reason, many gardeners add fertilizer like manure, compost, or packaged plant nutrients to make sure their plants have all the nutrients they need. You can find fertilizers at your local home improvement store, or you can order all-purpose fertilizer online. 

 

 

  • pH. This is a measure of a soil’s acidity. If soil is too acidic or too alkaline, your plants won’t be able to absorb nutrients, and they won’t grow. Most plants want a soil pH of between 6.0 and 7.0. 

 

If you’re a new gardener, make life easy on yourself and get a soil testing kit. You take a sample of your soil, mail it in, and within a few days, you’ll get back a full report on your soil. 

The report includes nutrients and pH, as well as exactly how much fertilizer and other compounds to add to make your soil fertile. 

If you’re doing raised-bed planting (see below), you can also skip all this and just fill your garden beds with bags of soil from your local home improvement store. 

Example

It’s June in Rowe, Massachusetts, which means it’s time to plant your beets. You google “beets sun needs” and discover that beets do best in full sun. 

Then you google “beets water needs” and see that beets need at least an inch of water every week — that’s one or two good, deep waterings. 

Half your backyard has almost no shade — it’s bright and sunny all day. The other half is shaded by your neighbor’s trees. You choose an area in the sunny part and decide to plant your beets there. 

Step 4: Basic Gardening Tools

You’re almost ready to start planting! The last things you need are a few simple gardening tools. 

A raised garden bed is a great way to start your first garden. It’s basically a box that you fill with soil, then use to plant your garden. You can buy raised garden beds at your local home improvement store, or you can make your own out of plywood and brackets

Raised garden beds give you more control over your soil quality, but if you want to skip them, you can also plant directly into the ground. 

Either way, you’ll need the following:

  • Trowel. Used for digging in soil by hand, and for harvesting vegetables. 
  • Watering can. Used to water plants by hand (unless you’re using a watering system discussed below). 
  • Shovel. Used to move large amounts of soil or fertilizer, or to dig holes for larger plants. 
  • Rake and Hoe. Used to remove weeds and till the soil, which prevents it from getting compacted so that water and oxygen can’t get through it.
  • Bulb planter (optional). If you’re planting flowers that grow from a bulb, a bulb planter will make your life much easier by digging a perfect, bulb-shaped hole for planting. 

With these tools, you’ll have everything you need to start planting. 

Step 5: Plant Your Garden

Now that you have all the knowledge and tools you need, it’s time to start planting your garden. 

Most people start their garden from seeds, which is a simple and affordable option. The majority of vegetables and flowers grow easily from seeds. 

However, if you have a short growing season or you want your plants to mature faster, you can also buy small starter plants (or bulbs for flowers) that already have a few weeks of growth.

You can find both seeds and starter plants at your local home improvement store.

If you’re using a raised garden bed, fill it to the top with soil. If you’re planting right into the ground, use your hoe to till the soil — drag the hoe across the ground — until the soil is loose and easy to handle. 

To plant from seeds, simply follow the directions on the seed packet. Different seeds prefer to be planted at different depths. Some like to be right on the surface, while others prefer to be planted a couple inches under the surface. Your seed packet will tell you what you need to know. 

To plant a starter plant, dig out a hole using your trowel or shovel that’s big enough to fit the plant and its roots. Then remove the plant from its plastic pot, put it in the ground, and pack soil around it so it stands upright and is the same level above ground that it was in the container. The roots should be covered with soil. 

You want to give your plants room to grow, so plant the seeds a few inches apart from one another in a neat row. That way they won’t get crowded as they sprout. 

That’s it! Your plants are in the ground and are ready to start growing. All they need is water. 

Example

You have your beet seeds, you bought a raised garden bed, and you’ve chosen a sunny plot of land in your backyard. It’s time to plant. 

You fill the garden bed with all-purpose soil you bought at your local home improvement store. Your beet seed packet says to plant the seeds ½-inch deep and 2 inches apart, in rows that are 1 foot apart from each other. 

You sprinkle the seeds into appropriately spaced rows and cover them with about ½-inch of soil. You’ve done it; your beets are ready to start growing. 

Step 6: Water Your Garden

All the hard work is done. Now you just have to water your plants and watch them grow. 

Each plant has different watering needs, and watering depends on a few different factors. If you live somewhere with intense heat and dry air (like a desert), you may need to water every day. If you get a lot of rain throughout your growing season, you may hardly need to water at all. 

A good general rule is to keep the top 3-4 inches of your soil damp. Stick your finger into the soil all the way to the base of your knuckle. If the soil is damp, your plants are probably happy. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water. 

Here are a couple basic tips for watering:

  • Water in the early morning or evening. If you water during the day, the sun will evaporate a lot of the water. It’s a waste of water, and it makes it hard for you to gauge how much water your plants are really getting. 

 

  • Do fewer, deeper waterings. You want water to make it all the way down to your plants’ roots. It’s better to do a couple deep waterings each week than to give your plants a shallow watering every day. The exception is if you’re in a very hot, dry place, like a desert. In that case, you may want to do deep watering every day. 

 

You can water a few different ways:

  • Watering can. Classic, cheap, handheld. Watering cans are a good choice for beginners, although they’re the most time-consuming and labor-intensive way to water.
  • Hose and nozzle. Use your hose connection to spray water across your plants. Faster and more even than a watering can. 
  • Above-ground oscillating sprinkler. Hook it up to your hose connection and turn it on for a few minutes every day. It’ll water your whole garden automatically with minimal effort on your part. Just don’t forget to turn it off. 
  • In-ground sprinkler with B-hyve timer. The easiest and most environmentally friendly way to water. Just install the in-ground sprinkler system and set the B-hyve smart home water timer, and your plants will enjoy perfect watering, every time. The B-hyve connects to WiFi and uses weather conditions to predict exactly how much water your garden needs. You can control it from your smartphone or laptop, there’s minimal water waste, and you never have to worry about forgetting to water your plants again. 

Final Thoughts

Gardening is a relaxing and enjoyable way to get in touch with nature. With a few minutes of research, seeds, and some basic tools, you’ll have everything you need to start your garden today. 

And if you don’t have a yard (or outdoor gardening seems intimidating), why not start an indoor garden? Growing houseplants or herbs is a great way to get familiar with plants from the comfort of your home.

How to Prevent Garden Pests the Natural Way

Garden Enforcer Sprinkler

Garden Enforcer Sprinkler

There’s nothing more frustrating than watching bugs dine out on your carefully tended plants, leaving them droopy, denuded or worst of all, dead. But while your first thought is to head for the pesticide aisle at your garden store, here are some natural options that pose less harm to the environment and fewer risks to the four and two-legged residents of your home.

Start with the Basics: Water

Did you know you can get rid of some garden pests simply by washing them away? That’s right, your hose is your simplest pest management tool. But you’ll get much further by putting some force behind it, so use the X-Stream Watering Wand from Orbit to blast away even the most persistent critters.

Discourage Critters by Spraying

Water also works well to prevent plants from being eaten by animal pests such as gophers, moles, and deer – use the yard enforcer motion detector to instantly activate your watering system and send them scurrying.

Banish with Beer

You’re not the only one who likes a tasty craft brew — snails and slugs are attracted by that rich, yeasty smell. Use tuna cans or something else with a deep rim so they fall in when they come for a cold one. Fruit juice is almost as effective.

Suds Away

Gardeners in the know stretch their garden dollars by making a homemade insecticidal spray with dish soap, vegetable oil, and water. The most common recipe: 2.5 tablespoons dish soap and 2.5 tablespoons of vegetable oil per gallon of water. Add two tablespoons of hot pepper sauce to the brew to keep even more varieties of pests away. 

Go Strong with Garlic

Apparently pests dislike garlic just as much as vampires do. To protect houseplants, stick a clove of garlic into the soil. Outdoors, make a spray by crushing six cloves of garlic and pouring a quart of boiling water over it to make a concentrate. Dilute again by half, then put into a spray bottle, first straining out the garlic bits so they don’t clog the nozzle. 

Keep Away with Copper

A safe, non-toxic way to keep slugs and snails out of garden beds is to line the edge with copper strips. Slugs and snails hate copper and won’t cross it, and you won’t have to kill them to keep them at bay. 

Mix in the Marigolds

That pungent smell you may have noticed emanating from marigolds is repellant to whiteflies and thrips, making them the perfect disruptive neighbor in your garden beds. At the same time, marigolds attract beneficial insects like ladybugs which attack and kill aphids, and the roots are toxic to hornworms and nematodes.

This is just the beginning when it comes to natural pest control — mint, neem oil, and many other ingredients can be added to homemade sprays to boost their potency. So have fun with that kitchen chemistry and say goodbye to garden pests.

Indoor Jungle: How Houseplants Can Make You A Happier Person

Houseplants

Houseplants

Aristotle, one of history’s most famous philosophers, said, “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” 

It turns out (perhaps unsurprisingly) that Aristotle was right. Over the last few decades, a growing body of research has found that we would all do well to spend more time in the great outdoors. 

Recent studies reveal that a simple walk in the woods relieves stress and wards off depression[*]. Gardening helps people recover faster from brain injuries[*], and a single weekend spent camping boosts your immune system for more than a month[*]. In short, nature is great for your health. 

But what do you do if you don’t have access to nature? 

A lot of us live in small city apartments, lack a yard in which to garden, or are too busy to get away on a camping trip. 

If you want more greenery in your life (and the health benefits that come with it), there’s a simple and elegant solution: bring nature indoors with you. 

The Joys and Benefits of Keeping Houseplants

It turns out you can get a lot of the health benefits of nature without leaving your home. 

  • A 2015 study found that caring for houseplants reduced stress, anxiety, and fight-or-flight response in healthy adults[*]. 
  • High school students who looked at houseplants for three minutes showed an increase in heart rate variability — an indicator of relaxation[*]. 
  • Patients rated hospital rooms with plants as more relaxing, and many hospitals in Nordic countries like Sweden and Denmark use houseplants to improve their patients’ recovery[*]. 
  • Children surrounded by real plants concentrated better in school, reported better mood, and showed a decrease in theta brain waves, which are a sign of inattention and sleepiness[*]. Interestingly, realistic fake plants did not give students the same benefits. 

Planting Healthier Indoor Air

Houseplants have another benefit too. 

In the late 1980s, NASA researchers were looking for ways to keep air fresh for their astronauts during space travel. They realized that in the perfectly sealed environment of a spacecraft, pollutants released by the spacecraft materials would quickly build up. 

As a result, NASA scientists began looking into using indoor plants to create cleaner air[*]. 

While they ultimately didn’t send houseplants into space, the NASA researchers discovered that plants were very effective at improving air quality. Their work spurred a new field of research into houseplants as natural air filters. 

  • Houseplants removed 35-85% of several common carcinogens in indoor air, including chemicals that are common in furniture, textiles, and construction materials[*]. 
  • Households with plants showed a decrease in indoor air pollutants that trigger asthma[*]. The longer participants had their plants, the more their home’s air quality improved. 
  • Different houseplants filter different compounds, so it’s good to have a variety of plants in each room[*]. 

Benefits aside, growing houseplants is a joyful hobby. Plants bring life into your home and add depth and beauty to any room. Your plants will grow with you, and if you take good care of them, they’ll live forever — you can pass them on to your children. 

3 Great Houseplants for Beginners

Here are three species of houseplant that are perfect for beginners:

  • ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). This plant has dark, lustrous leaves and is resistant to all pests. It’s also nearly impossible to kill. You only have to water your ZZ plant about once a month (although it will grow faster if you water it once a week), and it will thrive in any light conditions. 

 

  • Rubber plant (Ficus elastica). The rubber plant gets its name from compounds in its sap, which can be used to make latex. It has broad, handsome leaves that come in a variety of colors. Dark rubber plants are almost black, while ruby rubber plants have pink leaves that turn red as they mature. You can also find a tricolor varietal whose leaves look like watercolor paintings. Water rubber plants once every two weeks. They’ll thrive in any light condition. 

 

  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum). Pothos grows faster than almost any other common houseplant. It’s happy in any light condition and only needs watering once every two weeks or so. Pothos plants offer a lot of lush, green foliage with minimal care.

Houseplants are a simple way to bring nature into your home. You can find indoor plants at your nearest home improvement store or plant nursery. They’re inexpensive, easy to maintain, and will improve your mood, stress, air quality, and more.