By Angela Casco
In recent years, plants of various kinds have found their way to flourish not just outside—the garden, backyard, or an
apartment’s balcony—but also inside the home.
It doesn’t come as a surprise, though, as more are looking for ways to channel calm in an often chaotic life at work, at school, at the jeepney or bus to and from anywhere.
A number of studies have proven the benefits of having plants at home. Apart from its ability to instantly liven up a space, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research shows that plants also improve air quality, removing up to 87 percent of air toxin in 24 hours. It regulates humidity, too.
Plants have also been linked to improved concentration and productivity, reduced stress levels, and increased levels of positivity.
There’s also the joy in growing a plant.
“You anticipate it when it blooms,” Christopher Castillo, director of the Philippine Horticultural Society (PHS), tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “It makes you feel excited when it grows.”
Anyone can enjoy these benefits with the right plant at the right spots at home, and wherever they may be in the city.
“Horticulture is possible even in the city,” says Tiffany Chan, treasurer of PHS, pointing out the growing practice of garden cultivation and management among city dwellers. “Just don’t be afraid to try.”
Given the wide variety of plant options now, it can be especially overwhelming for those buying their plants for the first time. Getting started on at-home plants need not be grand, though.
“For first-time buyers, it’s best to start small and start affordable,” says Castillo, before adding that the basic requirements for a plant to live include sunlight, water, and air.
He says the popular plant choice, succulent—cactus, to be specific—can be a good start. For as low as ₱25, homeowners or condo dwellers can instantly get a touch of greenery in their own space.
“They’re easier to take care of in the city because unlike leafy succulents that easily die unless placed in an airconditioned room, cactus succulents can survive the Metro Manila weather,” Castillo explains. “It requires less water, too. You only water it when it’s dry.”
On what the best spot is for plants, the PHS director says it depends on the plant that goes inside the home.
“Majority of indoor plants should be placed near the window for sunlight supply,” he says. “The popular rubber tree, for example, needs its source of light so near the window is the best place for it.”
There are plants, however, that can withstand the lack or absence of sunlight for as long as a month.
“The snake plant is a good example of this, the hardy and long ones, as well as the welcome plant, which others also call zamio,” he says. “These are better for your bedroom because these plants release oxygen.”
Keeping it real for first-time plant buyers, Castillo says it’s likely for their first plant to die.
“Learning the know-how of growing plants takes time,” he says. “A simple start can help you gain experience without wasting so much money. If an affordable plant you’re taking care of dies, you can just purchase the same plant again and start again.”
Castillo also suggests that plant care newbies ask their plant seller for proper instructions and strategies.
“Try until you get the hang of it—how to take care of it and howto propagate it,” he says. “That’s the time you can level up to bigger, pricier plants.”