Personal growth: how planting something can improve your health and well-being

Kay Miller  •  Postmedia Content Works

Aug 13, 2020

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all coped in different ways. Some of us baked bread. Others binged Netflix. But a big contingent also turned their attention to the earth and got growing.

As a result, new gardens sprouted up everywhere. Eager homebound growers cleaned out Canadian seed suppliers and kept local nurseries thriving.

“At the garden centre, we’ve never had as many new-to-gardening people come through our doors. We see a lot of young families who have extra time and are home schooling for example,” says GardenWorks president Leanne Johnson, who is also the retail chair of the BC Landscape and Nursery Association.

But gardening is more than a great way to stay productive during a quarantine. It has scientifically proven mental health benefits. The mere presence of plants has been shown to reduce stress, depression and anxiety, plus improve focus, productivity, memory retention, creativity and overall psychological well-being.

The research is clear: plants make us happier and healthier. So what to plant? If you’re among the lucky with access to outdoor space, there is nothing more edifying than growing your own food. “You could have a full-on urban veggie garden in pots on your balcony and be enjoying everything from lettuce and kale to carrots,” says Johnson. “Almost anything can be grown in pots.”

It’s not too late to start hardy kale, broccoli and cauliflower now from seed, for harvesting into late fall. Fast-growing herbs and greens such as arugula and chard can be ready to harvest in just a few weeks.

Beyond produce, plants can also create a lush zone of relaxation and privacy in a small outdoor space, says Johnson. “With very little investment, you can really create a special and healthy place to decompress on your balcony,” she says. Small trees such as Japanese maples thrive beautifully in pots. She also suggests scented flowers – think roses, peonies, lavender and many more – to lift the mood.

If your living space is indoor-only, you can still create a wellness-enhancing (and air quality-boosting) oasis with tropical plants. You’ll just need a good watering can and spritzer, plus a fertilizer applied every couple of weeks, says Johnson. Her “top 10 most adoptable tropical plants,” chosen for resilience and esthetic appeal, are: succulents (Echeveria, string of pearls, aloe, Haworthia), Sansevieria, Spathiphyllum, Pothos, Philodendron, cactus, ZZ plant, areca palm and ferns.

“Even within the home, plants connect us to nature,” says Johnson. “They slow things down and allow us to focus on something natural.”Intrigued? Visit to learn more, or visit your local garden centre.

This project is supported by the BC Government’s Buy BC Partnership Program; delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC with funding from the Government of British Columbia.

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of the British Columbia Landscape & Nursery Association.

Read the original article here.