Bone-chilling temperatures and surprise snowstorms have had devastating effects across the United States this winter. Better days are only a couple months away, but that offers little immediate comfort, especially to people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). More daylight is often the best cure for the winter blues, but we have no control over nature’s timetable. One remedy that we can manage on our own is to add houseplants to our homes. In addition to sprucing up virtually any room, plants can improve morale, decrease stress, and absorb harmful chemicals and air pollutants often found in homes. Here are a few tips on how to save money on houseplants (and, for those of us lacking green thumbs, how to keep them alive).Choose safe plants. Any houseplant that can send family members to the emergency room is a threat not just to your health and happiness but also (secondarily) to your wallet. Do the necessary research so you can distinguish between poisonous and non-poisonous plants (for both people and pets) before adding them to your home. If you do decide to decorate with potentially dangerous plants, make sure you place them safely and securely out of reach of children and pets.
Start from scratch. It may be a little late to start growing for this winter’s needs, but generally speaking, you don’t have to splurge on full-grown plants. Seeds are much more affordably priced than plants. Better yet, cuttings — leaves, stems, vines, or small branches from another plant — are free, and they can be nurtured into live, flourishing growths of your own. If a friend has a thriving houseplant that appeals to you, ask him or her to trim off a piece for you.
Consider “low-fuss” houseplants. The less time and energy your plants require, the more time and energy you’ll have for fruitful, profitable ventures. Low-maintenance plants can easily add cheer and a splash of color to any room, and unlike high-maintenance shrubs (and people), they’re unlikely to cause guilt trips if you occasionally neglect them.Pot and water them properly. Even low-fuss plants need an occasional drink, so be sure you set them up in pots that have good drainage, including a container at the bottom that can catch any excess. Water damage to your shelves, floors, and carpeting can put an unexpected dent in your budget.
Keep the pests away. Houseplants can be a breeding ground for bugs if they’re not properly tended and/or if you transplant them from outdoors for the winter. To fend off these unwelcome guests, embed a clove of garlic in the soil (if the garlic starts growing sprouts, be sure to trim them).
Houseplants can brighten rooms and moods throughout the year, but they’re especially valuable when the days are short, cold, and stormy. To save even more on your indoor gardening needs, try FreeShipping.com, which offers 5% cash back, instant free shipping, and more money-saving benefits at Gardener’s Supply and other online gardening outlets.