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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Easy to grow houseplants for kids

Kids who tend to indoor plants develop a green thumb in impressionable years and learn to care for other living things at an early age.

July 20, 2018 3:05:07 pm Snake plant (Photos courtesy Ruchika Wadhwa Bhalla)

Kids who tend to indoor plants develop a green thumb in impressionable years and learn to care for other living things at an early age.

By Ruchika Wadhwa Bhalla

Ever since humans learnt to walk upright, they have lived in a nurturing relationship with Mother Nature. In the last 100 years or so, however, the growth of cities and modern technology has all but severed this primordial link. Perhaps it’s time to bring a chunk of nature right into your home?

Today’s children need to be weaned away from smart phones and the online world, and their organic relationship with the natural environment restored. Indoor plants are a readily available option to introduce the young ones to nature and cater to their innate desire to nurture and protect living things.

Photo courtesy Ruchika Wadhwa Bhalla

Studies have shown that having plants in your home helps reduce stress and fatigue. Kids who tend to indoor plants learn the basics of gardening and develop a green thumb in impressionable years. They are also happier, as they learn to care for other living things at an early age. It’s a wonderful, fulfilling relationship, much like having a pet. Plus, there is the added benefit of indoor plants acting as air filters for healthy breathing and mood improvers for mental health. Many people are so inspired by house greenery, they go for greening their entire walls with vertical gardens.

While you may not yet be ready to carpet your walls with plants, it’s easy to begin with house plants in a pot. Choose plants which are easy to grow, look attractive and are not overtly sensitive to absence of sunlight or water. Also, they should have good air cleaning abilities.

Here are three popular indoor plants which are child-friendly and can add life to your home. They are easy to care for and not prone to pests or shedding leaves. Your children will surely enjoy tending to these plants and learning some life’s lessons in the process.

Snake Plant

Snake plant, so called because of the shape of its long, thick leaves that stand erect, is one of the most popular houseplants and also known as Mother In Law’s Tongue (maybe because the leaves are too long!). It’s one of the easiest plant to look after and is the favourite of “forgetful gardeners”.

You can ignore snake plant for weeks and it will still be alright and look fresh. It can grow in low light, survive on very less water, and is resistant to pests. Make sure you place these plants in indirect sunlight and don’t over-water them. Allow the soil to dry between watering. There is a belief that snake plant can ward off evil influences, earning it the nickname of the “good luck plant”.

Aloe vera plant (Photo courtesy Ruchika Wadhwa Bhalla)

Aloe Vera

The succulent, light-loving Aloe Vera plant is easy to maintain and has been known in ancient civilisations like India and Egypt for its wonderful healing properties. It stores a lot of water in its foliage, much like a cactus, so it does not need frequent watering. It thrives in bright, natural light (but not direct sunlight) and moist soil. You can put Aloe Vera on a window sill, a shelf or anywhere else where there is adequate light. Kitchen and bathroom windows are popular places for keeping this wonderful plant.

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese Evergreen is a slow-growing plant with large and leathery rich-green leaves. It’s among the best-looking houseplants that you can have in your home. It tolerates just about any indoor condition and is considered an ideal plant for beginners because of its durability. It thrives in medium to low light conditions, or indirect sunlight, and prefers warmth, so keep it away from cool places. Chinese evergreen plants are available in many types, including variegated forms.

(Ruchika Wadhwa Bhalla is an environmental entrepreneur and Chief Green Evangelist at We Decor8, a Gurgaon-based firm specialising in green décor and urban farming.)

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