Saturday, February 4, 2017

DIY Indoor Garden for Your Aging Parents

By Tracy Layden

Mom and Dad have always loved to garden. Now that they’re older, taking care of their beloved plants has become more struggle than joy. But aging doesn’t mean they have to give up their green thumbs. Help your parents bring the plants indoors where they’re easier to care for and even easier to admire.
Choose the right plants.
Maintaining an indoor garden is a breeze if you choose plants that will thrive indoors. Particularly suited for indoor gardening are:
  • Vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, carrots, peas, radishes, onions, lettuce, spinach
  • Fruits: grapes, strawberries, figs, watermelon, apricots
  • Herbs: basil, sage, parsley, chives, thyme, oregano, tarragon
  • Flowers: African violet, clivia, flowering maple, orchid, zebra plant, anthurium
Before buying a new plant, check how much sunlight it will need. Look for those that get by with limited sun or prefer shade.

Choose the right location.
Indoor gardens are all about arranging plants correctly — that’s both so the plants are healthy and look beautiful in your home.

Avoid rooms with cold temperatures. Plants almost universally prefer warm air (between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit). Cold temperatures can kill the plants or slow their growth.

Avoid putting the plants next to air vents or fans. Too much air movement can dry out your plants.
Store pots or mason jars together in a tray. Keeping the herbs together will make it easier to transport and will catch any water spillage.

Windowsills, shelves, tables and benches are all classic places to display indoor plants. Choose a location where your parents can both admire the plants and easily reach them without bending.

Give the plants the care they need.
The best part about indoor gardens is that they need less maintenance than traditional outdoor gardens.
  • Water often. Plants grown in containers dry out more quickly than those grown outdoors in soil. Stick your finger in the soil to make sure you are not over- or under-watering.
  • Create the right humidity. If the tips of leaves are turning brown or looking withered, you may have a low-humidity problem. Mist those plants daily. (Avoid misting hairy-leaved plants.)
  • Fertilize. Indoor plants often need a bit of an extra boost of nutrients. Look for organic fertilizers meant for indoor plants and follow their instructions.
Different plants have different needs. They will give you signs when something is wrong. Watch out for browning, withering and the loss of leaves or flowers.

Get the kids involved.
Have your kids join in on the fun with decorated pots. They make perfect gifts. Buy some clay pots for the kids to decorate with paints, pipe cleaners and ribbons. After the decoration is complete, teach the kids how to add soil and a plant of their choice. Grandma and Grandpa will be thrilled.

Watch them flower and flourish.

Help your parents retain their green thumbs and watch them flower in the process. Studies show that when seniors garden, both their physical and mental health improves.

Indoor gardening is a win-win situation for all: Your parents will be healthier, their home will be warmer and their plants will be happier!

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy is a nationally ranked ballroom dancer and accomplished crafter – she can be seen covered in rhinestones head to toe as she whirls around the dance floor.

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