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Plants for Positivity: Prescribe yourself plenty of garden & nature time

Plants have a special way of elevating our moods, lifting our spirits, and providing a sense of wonder. But they possess far more utility than just a knack for making us humans feel good. Simply put, we need plants for our survival.

From food and exercise to medicine and recuperation, so much that is healthy and beneficial has a connection to the colorful, chlorophyll-containing wonders that make up the plant kingdom. In this first installment, we focus on a host of general well-being benefits.

Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

Plants promote positive vibes & more tangible goodness

Plants can provide an emotional pick-me-up. Being around plants and nature makes people happier. This almost certainly feels instinctively true for plant lovers, but it’s borne out by research.

• “There is increasing awareness among researchers and health practitioners of the potential health benefits derived from gardening activities.
• “Studies have shown that gardening increases individual’s life satisfaction, vigor, psychological well-being, positive effects, sense of community, and cognitive function.
• “Reductions in stress, anger, fatigue, and depression and anxiety symptoms have also been documented.”

Source: sciencedirect.com

“Houseplants reduce stress and anxiety. According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, active interaction with indoor plants (like touching and smelling) can reduce physiological and psychological stress. What’s more, even the potting soil can help you keep a handle on daily stress and anxiety.”

Source: Forbes.com

Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

There is so much to share and bond over with other plant people — “not only the nuts and bolts of gardening but the emotional and spiritual connections we can experience with our gardens.”

Source: “10 Mental Health Benefits of Gardening,” psychologytoday.com

Photo by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash

Concentration and Memory

“Being around plants helps people concentrate better in the home and workplace. Studies show that tasks performed while under the calming influence of nature are performed better and with greater accuracy, yielding a higher quality result. Moreover, being outside in a natural environment can improve memory performance and attention span by twenty percent.”

Source: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Healing

“Shrubs, trees, and flowers have a practical application in hospitals: The presence of plants in patient recovery rooms greatly reduces the time necessary to heal. The soothing effects of ornamental flowers and plants are so great that simply having daily views of flowers and other ornamental plants in landscaped areas outside patient recover rooms significantly speeds up recovery time. Another technique to decrease recovery time is horticulture therapy, where patients care for and nurture plants themselves. Patients who physically interact with plants experience a significantly reduced recovery time after medical procedures.”

Source: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash

Plants make people happy

“Adding flowers to your home or work environment reduces your perceived stress levels and makes you feel more relaxed, secure, and happy. Flowers can help you achieve a more optimistic outlook on your life, bringing you both pleasing visual stimulation and helping you to increase your perceived happiness.”

Source: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

 

Plants allow you to get physical

Step it up in the garden to your heart’s content…and benefit. You might be surprised how many steps you can pile up and calories you can burn while gardening, moving from one end of your space to the next, planting, pruning, weeding, harvesting, feeding, watering. The digging, the pulling, the stretching. We feel a sweat coming on just from the thought.

Burning calories and lowering your blood pressure are just two of the benefits to the mind and body from gardening, says this Good Housekeeping article. Excerpts below:

Burn calories

“You can burn about 330 calories doing one hour of light gardening and yard work — more than walking at a moderate pace for the same amount of time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Lower your blood pressure

“Just 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity most days of the week can prevent and control high blood pressure. In fact, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends gardening or raking leaves for 30-45 minutes as examples of how to hit that recommended amount.”

The CDC says 2 1/2 hours a week of moderate-level activity, such as gardening, can also reduce the risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer, and premature death.

Source: “Gardening Health and Safety Tips,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Like us, you’ve probably been spending even more time of late with your plants. Who knew that weeding, pruning, picking, raking, digging, planting, and repotting were so good for one’s health? Keep it up and keep the positive, plant-filled vibes flowing.

At Altman Plants, we’re always happy to help with you with succulent plant care tips or to pick out some new living treasures.

Butterfly photo by Patti Black on Unsplash

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A cactus with a magnificent pop of yellow

We’re keeping the holiday spirit alive into the new year by going with balloons — balloon cactus, that is. This gorgeous globular bluish-green species is native to southern Brazil and other select South American locales. The view from above is spot on: pale yellow spines radiate from the rusty gold middle atop and down the center of the attractive ribs.

Flowers appear spring to summer, even into fall, providing a yummy pop of yellow on yellow. This one is relatively indoor friendly — a single stem can reach 6 inches in diameter, but over time, clumps may spread to 2 feet or more across.

In the linked video below, our cactus whisperer Tom highlights the beautiful glow effect when the plant’s bristle-like spines are backlit by the sun.

Notocactus magnificus (balloon cactus) is available at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).

 

 

 

 

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Succulents make super holiday gifts for friends, family, and yourself

As of Nov. 27, Altman Plants has now lowered the threshold for free shipping at shopaltmanplants.com to $50 for the holidays

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This old man, he plays it cool

Old man of the Andes cactus is just one of several hairy species

The cactus family is chock-full of old men and old ladies. Enough so that they deserve their own membership wing in the AARP. Ha, we kid, but the “old …” cacti all share an eye-catching attribute: a coat of protective white hairs. That hairiness, while not of identical density, can make it tough for nonexperts to distinguish individual species from one another. Today, though, we’re singling out one senior cactus in particular: Oreocereus celsianus, aka old man of the Andes. The prefix, Oreo, means “mountain,” from the Greek word oros.

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Celebrating the flowery side of cacti

Forgive us if we ever get a bit flowery in our musings about cacti. These plants are often noted for their spiny (not thorny) toughness, but — beyond cactus geeks — probably don’t receive their proper due for all the textures, shapes, and hues they possess. Their satiny, out-of-this-world flowers are some of the most fetching ones on the planet. Alluring reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, whites. Even purple. Some run small while many are certifiably ginormous. (The flowers of Hylocereus undatus — dragon fruit — can exceed 12 inches in length.) Many bloom after dark when other plants have closed up their displays for the night.

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Old man Andes has a point: The purposeful hairiness of Oreocereus celsianus

This old man dwells far above the sea, although you won’t encounter “him” unless you’re exploring the mountains of Argentina, Bolivia, or Peru. It is in those high-up places that old man of the Andes cacti stand like snowy sentinels, eventually reaching up to 10 feet tall. 

We recommend planting a specimen with porous cactus soil that allows for adequate or better drainage. Try to avoid watering Oreocereus celsianus during overcast or humid weather, or on cold winter days. Outdoors, this mountain native is fine with full sun, but it does not care for extreme heat. If indoors, it will want to be near a sunny window.

Look for old man of the Andes cactus at our retail shop and wholesale shop.

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BFFs for your succulents

Non-succulent companion plant options are numerous. Here are five:

One of the biggest garden design challenges is focusing your enthusiasm. Even if succulents and cacti are your #botanicaljam4lyfe, choices must be made. There are thousands of species on the planet, yet you only enjoy space for 75 plants. That means you’re probably going to plant 25 species at most, unless you have a hopeless case of the “onesies” and are determined to get your mitts on one of everything.

Plus you might want to make room for a few non-succulents. We here at Altman have soft spots for all kinds of plants and know just how beautiful a mixed landscape, abounding in rich colors and textures, can be.

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Five picks for heat-enduring, non-prickly succulents

Those who have found this particular outpost of succulent fandom are probably aware that succulents have their limits. For example, to decorate desert ground with any plant accurately answering to the name “succulent” is to expect or desire one very possible outcome: fried succulent. Personally, we much prefer going the “fried” route with cauliflower or chicken.

Cactus, agaves, and aloes, this post is not intended for you. (Now’s a good time to acknowledge that plants generally don’t answer when called upon.) With summer here soon, we thought it would be cool to highlight some needle- and sword-free specimens that should do pretty well in the hotter spots of the garden. To be clear, not desert hot — we’re not about to completely deep-fry our senses. We are referring to areas that experience temperatures of 90+ degrees Fahrenheit (32° Celsius) without much if any marine influence.

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Gardeners & Pests: not a love story

Dealing with destructive little ones doesn’t require a scorched-earth approach

Spotting pests making homes on your cacti, succulents, and shrubbery is never a delightful discovery. The more those little buggers thrive and multiply, the likelier it portends not-swell effects for your precious leaf babies plants. As much as we gardeners want to evict those gluttonous trespassers like yesterday, ideally the solution doesn’t lie in harsh, chemical-heavy measures. No. 1, it starts with ecologically minded gardening (namely, approximating your plants’ natural habitat as best as possible).

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In the ground versus containers

Ideally, it’s not an either/or predicament for succulent enthusiasts

Stick ’em in the ground or contain them to potted dwellings? Thankfully for those of us with dirt to spare, succulents are generally as flexible as they are fleshy (not to discount factors such as frost and excessive heat).

That flexibility, though — as much as succulent lovers appreciate the artful possibilities it affords — can have gardeners struggling to make choices. Because we’d rather you be outside getting your fingernails dirty than indoors furiously scribbling pros-and-cons lists, we’ve cobbled together a handful of considerations.

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