Feb 16, 2022

Go Green: Outdoor and Indoor Plants That Will Enhance Your Home

Since the pandemic began, there has been a growing number of “plantitos” and “plantitas” who found solace in their gardens. The seemingly endless quarantine implementations are made bearable, thanks to the magic of growing plants. Having a so-called green thumb even became a household trend among the uncle and auntie generation. 

Whether you live in a house and lot or a condominium, your home wouldn’t be complete without having a touch of nature. The presence of plants gives depth to every Filipino home, as well as a sense of connection to the environment. Some also believe that plants provide positive energy that can enhance the overall ambiance of various households. 

Gardening, however, depends on the space that is available and suitable. When it comes to small houses with little backyards and fronts, ornamental grass and flowering shrubs would suffice. In terms of large open spaces, growing trees to your landscape plan would give your garden the enhancement it needs. Not only will it decorate your house, but also provide homegrown food that you can actually consume. 

These are only a few of the abundant benefits of adding plants in your home. In the following section, we’ll be tackling more of those benefits. We hope the lists will make you realize the great impact and significant contribution of plants to the environment. 

Without further ado, let’s begin your plant parenting journey!

Benefits of Having Plants in Your Home 

It feels invigorating to live in cultivated greenspaces while having ornamental plants surrounding you. Aside from all the perks that were previously mentioned, here are science-backed benefits that plants can give you — both physically and mentally. This excludes artificial plants, of course. 

Reduces stress levels 

According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, plants in homes or offices have the ability to soothe and provide comfort. The study gave the participants two different tasks: accomplishing an easy computer-based task and repotting a houseplant. 

After the participants completed every task, the researchers monitored the biological factors associated with stress. This includes blood pressure and heart rate. 

The indoor gardening task relatively lowered the stress response in the participants, while the computer tasks caused an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. The said participants were even young professionals who are already used to computerized work. 

Helps improve concentration 

A small study involved 23 student participants inside a classroom. The researchers placed either a real plant, a fake one, an image of a plant, or no plant at all.  

Based on the participants’ brain scans, the students who studied with real plants in the room were more alert and focused than the other groups. 

Serves as mental therapy 

For people who are experiencing mental illness symptoms, indoor gardening may be an essential therapy. 

A study involving psychiatric patients applied horticultural therapy to increase and develop feelings of well-being. This was among patients diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and dementia, among others. 

For centuries, horticultural therapy has already been practiced. It also found its way to modernization, with medical clinics recommending and even “prescribing” potted plants to patients who have symptoms of mental illness. 

Helps you recover faster 

By just looking at greenery, your recovery from a certain illness or injury may be accelerated. 

A review of the conducted research showed that people who are recovering from various kinds of surgery needed less pain relief and had relatively shorter hospital stays compared to those who weren’t looking at plants during their recuperation periods. 

Note that this study was conducted in hospital settings with plants and natural sceneries, instead of households. 

Helps boost productivity 

Aside from productivity, multiple studies have shown that plants placed in workspaces also increased creativity. A study conducted in 1996 concluded that students inside their school’s computer lab were less stressed and worked 12% faster with plants placed nearby. 

Another study challenged participants to come up with creative word associations. The researchers found that the participants performed better when a plant was placed inside the room with them. 

Lastly, a study also showed that people who had more greenery in their workspace had fewer sick days and worked more productively. 

Improves the quality of indoor air 

Phytoremediation refers to a plant-based approach of removing contaminants from the air. Initially discovered from a NASA study conducted in the 1980s, the method was used to improve the air quality in a spacecraft. The researchers concluded that the soil and roots of plants significantly decreased airborne volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

Recent findings, however, suggest that you would need a huge amount of greenery to equal the air purifying capacity of modern biofilters and technologies alike. 

If ever you decide to use houseplants to naturally purify air, here’s a list of species that are proven to be the most effective: 

  • Bamboo palms 
  • Spider plant 
  • Ficus tree 
  • Rubber tree 
  • Boston fern 

Improves your overall outlook 

Some may agree that a panoramic view of a city can help improve job satisfaction. You might be surprised to know that a potted plant could actually do the same (in other cases, better). 

Researchers of a study interviewed more than 440 employees and they found that those who had natural elements in their office environment had more commitment and job satisfaction than the opposite group. 

Outdoor Plants You Can Grow in Your Garden 

At this point, you’re now probably convinced of having plants in the comfort of your home. It’s just a matter of knowing what to cultivate and what’s the most suitable. The following is a list of plants that will give your Filipino home a touch of nature. 

Leandro Maranghetti Lourenço | Wikimedia Commons

Papaya 

Given that the Philippines is a tropical country, papaya trees are abundant especially in the provincial areas. If you have a spacious garden or backyard, you might want to consider growing a papaya tree.

Having a wide range of culinary uses also makes it a practical choice. You can either eat the papaya fruits as dessert or use them as ingredients for cooking Filipino cuisines such as atchara and chicken tinola

This tree can be easy to cultivate as long as both healthy soil and sunlight are present. It’s ideal to have three papaya trees with at least one male tree among them. Although male papaya trees usually don’t bear fruit, they can still help female trees pollinate. There are also hermaphrodite species that can self-pollinate. 

Judgefloro | Wikimedia Commons

Anahaw 

Hailed as the Philippines’ national leaf, there’s more to this plant than just being a decorative element in your garden. The anahaw tree can grow up to 20 meters in height while perfectly blending with all the other greeneries. It eventually becomes the “star of the show” once it starts to bear flowers and orange-red to bright-red drupes.

The anahaw leaves are also famous in the arts and crafts scene as they can be made into bags, fans, and wrappers. 

Mokkie | Wikimedia Commons

Ylang-ylang 

If you’re into the scent of jasmine flowers, then the ylang-ylang tree may be your best bet. In the Philippines, it is considered as a fast-growing tree that can reach the height of up to 12 meters when cultivated in an ideal climate.

Ylang-ylang trees have greenish-yellow dangling flowers and long leaves. In terms of its blooming season, however, the seedling may take as long as five years to flower. 

Forest & Kim Starr | Wikimedia Commons

Agoho 

If you want something that resembles the famous pine trees in Tagaytay and Baguio, you can go for the agoho tree. This species is often mistaken for belonging to the Pinus family, but is actually a flowering tree that makes you feel like you live on a mountain. Once fully grown, it can still thrive even without a continuous supply of water. 

John Robert McPherson | Wikimedia Commons

Neem 

This herbal tree boasts shiny pinnate leaves attached to its limp branches that sway gracefully with the wind. When fully grown (it can be as tall as 30 meters), it provides a good amount of shade from sunlight.

Various studies have also found that neem leaves have medicinal uses such as treating stomach problems, leprosy, skin ulcers, and eye disorders. The bark of the tree can also be used as a remedy for malaria and other skin diseases. 

Mango 

The well-known mango tree is another tropical staple. To bear a decent number of fruits, this kind of tree needs full sunlight and well-drained soil. It is generally easy to grow from seed, but takes many years to be cultivated into a solid evergreen.

The tree can reach its maturity stage for about three years. It would then start to flower and bear fruit.

SKsiddhartthan | Wikimedia Commons

Champak 

If you want to add a bit of romance to your garden, you can grow this ornamental tree that bears yellowish to golden flowers with a charming scent. For it to grow in its ideal shape, the champak tree needs a moist environment, plenty of water, and a generous amount of sunlight. Relatively smaller than other trees, it can only grow up to a height of six meters. 

Jethrude Hipolito | Wikimedia Commons

Banaba 

Known for bearing lavender flowers and nut-like fruits, the banaba tree generally grows around warm climates and can reach up to 10 meters in height. When in full bloom, the trees give an enchanting vibe to any garden.

As for medicinal purposes, the leaves and flowers of the banaba tree can be used as herbal remedy for diabetes mellitus. 

Judgefloro | Wikimedia Commons

Narra 

While there’s a national leaf, there’s also a national tree. The highly durable and dependable Narra tree showcases the wonders of Filipino flora. If you have enough space in your garden to spare, then planting this tree may be a good idea. From February until May, the tree bears bright yellow flowers that yield sweet honey and a pleasant fragrance. 

Binu K S | Flickr

Bani 

This common yet stunning legume tree is named after a town in Pangasinan called Bani. It can fully grow up to 25 meters in height with a huge expansive canopy. Its flower clusters have a variety of colors such as pink, purple, and white. If you need a tree that can serve as a protective shade for a wide garden or backyard, then planting this tree is optimal. 

Indoor Plants You Can Grow at Home 

Aside from outdoor plants that were mentioned above, there are also indoor plants that can bring life to your space. We mean that literally and figuratively. Indoor plants are also beginner-friendly as they can be easy to take care of and they don’t demand huge spaces. 

The following is a list of suggested species you can grow in your room or any other space in your house. 

Forest & Kim Starr | Wikimedia Commons

Philippine Ebony 

This native tree can grow to a full height of up to 30 meters, but its bonsai-like variant can be a perfect addition to your indoor plant collection. This tree is known for its vibrant green leaves and dark brown hardwood trunk. What makes it even more indoor-friendly is that it can still thrive under shaded areas with limited sunlight. 

Succulents 

Known as drought-resistant plants, succulents are specialized species that store water in their thick stems and/or leaves. Defined by Merriam Webster as “full of juice,” they are also highly adapted to dry climates where water is limited. 

This group of plants have diverse forms, blooms, and colors, but the common characteristics are swollen leaves, stems, or pads. Aside from being eye-catching, succulents require minimal maintenance, which makes them great for indoor spaces. 

Cactus 

Like succulents, this group of plants also comes in different varieties and is able to withstand average room temperatures and dry climates. Although certain species of cacti may require a decent amount of sunlight, giving them supplementary lighting is vital especially for those living in north-facing windows.

Adding a cactus to your home will add charm with its spiny textures and out-of-this-world shapes. 

Lucky Bamboo 

In the Philippines, this type of indoor plant is often given as a housewarming gift. It isn’t called “lucky” for nothing, as it is believed to bring good fortune to those who keep it in their homes. It only requires minimal maintenance, water, and indirect sunlight to flourish. 

Aloe Vera 

This plant is known to be a key ingredient in moisturizers and treatments for burns and cuts. Aside from being a decorative element for your home, aloe vera is a perfect low-maintenance plant that offers a variety of uses. 

Rubber Tree 

This type of indoor plant features slender branches and fascinating dark green leaves. Recommended for beginner plant parents, rubber trees don’t demand high maintenance aside from periodic pruning and repotting.  It’s still important to place it in a well-lit area and only water it whenever the soil gets dry. 

Macdon | Wikimedia Commons

Jade Plant 

Requiring only a medium amount of daily sunlight, a jade plant showcases deep green oval-shaped leaves and thick stems. This striking indoor plant gives a miniature tree-like experience and serves as a powerful toxin eliminator. It’s ideal for homes and workplaces, as it only requires water every few days when the soil dries out. 

Asparagus Fern 

Don’t let the name deceive you, this plant is not actually a fern. It’s an herbaceous perennial that has long branches covered with bushy and feather-like leaves. Its delicate foliage resembles the leaves of an asparagus but bends gracefully like a fern. It only requires indirect sunlight and just the right amount of water. 

Digigalos | Wikimedia Commons

Dragon Tree 

With its red outlines and spiky leaves, no wonder this plant is associated with a dragon. Pairing it with a modern pot would complete its scene-stealing leaves. This plant needs a good balance of sunlight and shade. Being exposed to too much direct sunlight might result in damage. 

Snake Plant 

Also known as the “mother-in-law’s tongue,” this unique species is a popular hardy houseplant that is easy to maintain. Its architectural nature and sharp leaf margins make a perfect ornamental element for your contemporary home. 

Practical Ways To Buy Plants 

With the outdoor and indoor plants mentioned above, you now probably have ideas on what to buy for your home. For this section, here are practical ways that will make the most out of your purchase. 

Shop at a local plant store. 

One great way to find affordable plants and seeds is to shop locally. You can search for plant fairs, plant swaps, or even local recycling groups online. Some stores have stocks of a wide variety of plants sold at low prices. Always be on the lookout for special offers and flash sales. 

Check the quality of the plant/s. 

There are times when you shouldn’t get too carried away with affordability. Neglected plants are usually sold at strangely cheap prices. However, there are still plants that can recover when given the utmost care that they need. 

Know when to buy small plants. 

When it comes to vegetables or bedding, it’s generally practical to buy small ones to save both money and time. It’s because the meticulous process of germination is already done for you. Slower growing shrubs, on the other hand, may take years to flower if you buy the tiny ones. 

Choose healthy plants. 

The last thing you want to happen is for your newly-purchased plant to die shortly after you take it home. Here are the signs telling you that a plant is in good health: 

  • It displays good foliage growth and has vibrant colors. 
  • The top of the compost is moist, weed-free and has a dark color. 
  • You won’t find yellowing roots and dry or brown leaves. 
  • Avoid pests by checking the undersides of the leaves and stems. 
  • Healthy roots are a good sign not unless they are outgrowing the pot (a sign that the plant needs to be transferred to a bigger one). 

Where To Buy Plants Online and On-Site 

Are you now excited to become a plant parent? Whether you’re still a budding green thumb or a certified horticulturist, here are online and on-site stores where you can purchase beautiful plants. Discover or visit a plant shop near your location. 

Beginner’s Quick Guide to Plant Care 

1. Start with a plant that is easy to maintain. 

In general, the cactus and succulent family are two different groups of plants that are easy to take care of. 

Although the majority of succulents are not cacti, there are cacti that are also considered as succulents. The most distinct difference between the two is that a cactus always has bumps called areoles. This is where its spikes or hair grow. Succulents, on the other hand, do not always have these bumps. 

Cacti 

One of the most amusing things about a cactus is that it can tolerate your bad behavior for many years. One day it will surprise you by bearing flowers if cared for properly. This flowering phenomenon is usually stimulated when the roots are formed into a tangled mass encircling the inside of its pot. This is also called pot-bound. This plant group is great for beginners as cacti only need a light spraying of water every now and then. 

Succulents 

A succulent is easy to identify as well as easy to take care of. Either having a rosette shape or tightly packed leaves, this plant is easy to breed and highly suitable for various indoor settings. Their leaves are so thick that they have the ability to absorb water and conserve it in their natural habitat. Succulents are best placed beside a window where they can get enough sunlight. 

2. Never overwater your plant. 

Overwatering your plant also equates to killing it. Avoid pouring water down the center of your plant and letting it “drown” with more than it can absorb. Root rot is often caused by excess stagnant water that later on makes the plant die. 

To check whether or not a plant needs watering yet, do a soil finger test. Don’t water if the soil is still damp. If the pot of your plant has drainage, you can use a saucer to water it from the bottom. You can also spray water regularly with an atomizer, which boosts moisture around your plant and keeps it healthy and happy. Remember to tip away excess water from the pot. 

Source: Living with Plants: A Guide to Indoor Gardening by Sophie Lee, Hardie Grant, 2017

Plant Societies and Organizations 

Expand your horizons and share your passion with fellow plant enthusiasts. These societies and organizations comprise people from various walks of life. 

From academics, government and non-government agencies, garden clubs to horticulture groups, you’ll find a community where you belong. Not only are these organizations enthusiastic about plants, but they are also devoted to the conservation and preservation of the environment. 

Final Thoughts  

Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.

Gary Snyder, poet

Growing plants at home isn’t only therapeutic, but also teaches us to be patient and caring. The simple act of gardening leads us to reconnect with nature. Especially that we are still dealing with the uncertainties of this pandemic, we need something to lift our spirits and rejuvenate us. 

With the presence of greenery and potted plants, the home becomes a place of refuge and escape. Many have redesigned their rooms and spaces not just for the trend, but rather to bring life and hope. 

To begin your plant parenting journey, take note of these basic know-hows and must-knows. For more tips on how to make your house feel more like a home, check out our other articles on the Enta blog

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