Winter can be a sad time of year for many people, especially gardeners who thrive outdoors, digging in the dirt and caring for plants. For the winter blues, houseplants can be a great antidote. Bring more living greenery into the home to boost your mood and to provide a project that will tide you over until spring.
Can Houseplants Help the Winter Blues?
The winter blues is not an uncommon phenomenon. Many people struggle more with a low mood in winter for several reasons: less daylight, colder temperatures, and fewer opportunities to get outdoors. Some people also have a difficult time with the holidays.
A smaller group of people experience a more serious type of mental health issue in winter. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a diagnosable form of depression. Most people with SAD have depression symptoms that begin in fall and winter.
If the shorter days and longer nights bring you down in winter, houseplants can help. Living plants help boost your mood and remind you of summer. The color green, likely because of plants, is associated with calmness, comfort, and happiness.
Of course, if you are really struggling with sadness and depression in winter, plants can only do so much to help. It’s best to see a medical or mental health professional.
How Houseplants Fight the Winter Blues
One of the most obvious reasons plants can help fight the winter blues is that they bring life to the indoors. While most plants outside are dormant and snow blankets all the greenery, having living plants inside is a powerful way to boost mood.
Other ways houseplants fight a low mood might be less apparent. A study conducted in a nursing home provided residents with houseplants. Some were told they were to take care of the plants themselves. Others were told the staff would care for the plants. The participants who cared for their plants had improved health and mood after a specified period of time. The plants provided a sense of purpose and gave residents more control over their decisions. These benefits can also help anyone in winter who is struggling with depression. A project, having a plant relying on you, is a definite mood booster.
Another way that plants might help lift your mood involves the air. A famous NASA study proved that houseplants filter pollutants from the air. When you can’t spend as much time outside or open the windows, plants may provide fresher, cleaner indoor air.
Best Houseplants for Winter Blues
Houseplants for winter can be as varied as desert succulents and tropical vines. As long as you can provide the right conditions indoors, you can grow and enjoy it. The most important factor should be choosing plants that make you happy and that are reasonable to grow in your indoor environment.
The best houseplants for a winter project are cheerful but also easy to care for and tolerant of indoor conditions. Here are some good options:
- Succulents don’t need much water and tolerate the dry conditions typical inside in the winter.
- Philodendron is one of the most forgiving houseplants that will tolerate some neglect and still produce pretty vines.
- Ponytail palm gives the home a tropical feel and, as a bonus, is safe for pets who like to chew.
- Orchids provide beautiful flowers and are not as difficult to grow as their reputation suggests. Just be sure they get enough moisture.
- African violets are also cheerful bloomers that are easy to care for.
- Inch plant is fast-growing, has colorful foliage, and is easy to propagate by cuttings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Houseplants Help With Seasonal Depression?
Winter houseplants have been proven to boost mood, provide purpose and a sense of control, and filter indoor air. However, plants are not enough to treat true depression. If you struggle with sadness and nothing seems to help, see your doctor for professional medical guidance.
How Do I Keep My Houseplants Happy in the Winter?
Houseplants for winter blues can be helpful, but not if they die. First, know your plants and what their specific needs are so you can keep them happy. Avoid overwatering, one of the most common issues with houseplants. Use grow lights if necessary, avoid placing plants in cold, drafty areas, and use pebble trays or water misters to increase humidity.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
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