It’s no secret that these are highly anxious times for our world. Fear of the pandemic and uncertainty about the future can be overwhelming. Social distancing mandates can be isolating and changes in everyday routine can be disruptive. While so much of what we’re used to is out of our control, there may be a simple remedy to ease stresses and worries: houseplants.
If you don’t have a houseplant, today might be the day you consider adopting one. Here’s why:
Most homes are full of harmful chemicals that can cause headaches, dizziness, coughing, sore throat, eye irritation, and more serious health issues like heart problems and liver damage.
Here are 5 chemicals in everyday products and the impact on human health, according to NASA research.
Ammonia - Found in window cleaners. Can cause eye irritation, coughing and sore throat.
Benzene - Found in dyes and detergents. Can cause eye irritation, drowsiness, dizziness, increased heart rate, headaches, confusion and unconsciousness.
Formaldehyde - Found in paper products. Can cause nose, mouth, throat and eye irritation and sometimes swelling of the larynx and lungs.
Trichloroethylene - Found in printer ink, paints and paint remover. Can cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and sometimes drowsiness and coma.
Xylene - Found in printing products, certain rubbers, leathers and paints. Can cause headache, dizziness, heart problems, liver and kidney damage, coma, and irritation to the mouth and throat.
The good news is houseplants act as natural air filters, cleansing the air of all the above chemicals and more. Countless studies have shown houseplants improve air quality and naturally bring light and energy to a room, which can reduce stress, improve mood and sleep, decrease anxiety, and enhance memory. Here are 5 easy-to-grow plants that are the best at filtering air:
1. Devil’s Ivy
Alternative common names: Pothos, Money Plant
Scientific name: Epipremnum aureum
Description: This climbing or trailing vine can grow "like the devil," but is usually 6 ft. (1.8 m) long indoors. Its heart-shaped leaves are marked with white or yellow.
How to grow: In bright light, its leaves will become more richly marked with yellow or white. If you grow your plant in low light, be careful not to overwater it. Let the soil dry out slightly between waterings. These plants are best in hanging baskets. Periodically take the plant to the sink and spray its leaves with water. Fertilize no more than 2 or 3 times a year, and always when the plant is actively growing. If your vines become lanky, cut it back. Propagate by taking tip cuttings.
Health benefits: Devil’s Ivy is often used by Feng Shui experts to reduce stress and improve sleep quality, especially when placed near a television or wifi box. Devil’s Ivy is also a superior plant for ridding the air of chemicals like trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and ammonia.
2. Peace Lily
Common names: Spath
Scientific name: Spathiphyllum
Description: The flower stalk of this 2-ft. (60-cm) hybrid is 15 to 20 in. (38 to 50 cm) long. Its spathe is slightly scented.
How to grow: Spathe flowers tolerate medium light and average room temperatures. Water freely and provide extra humidity. Never let them become dry. Fertilize the plants every 2 weeks throughout the year, but if temperatures dip below 60°F (15.5°C) in winter, let them rest. Repot in spring, using a standard potting mixture, until your plant reaches the largest pot size you can accommodate. Then divide it or keep it in the same pot and top-dress it with fresh soil. Propagate by division. In direct sun, or if the leaves touch a freezing window, ugly brown spots may appear. Cut off the blighted leaves; new ones will take their place.
Health benefits: The Peace Lily is one of the easiest plants to care for and one of the best for purifying air. It cleanses the air of trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and ammonia and can increase humidity in a room by 5%. Consider putting a Peace Lily in your bedroom to improve air quality while you sleep.
3. English Ivy
Alternative common name: European Ivy
Scientific name: Hedera Helix
Description: The leaves of this species are typical of ivy plants — 5-lobed, dark green, and about 2 in. (5 cm) long. The leaves of varieties may be oval, pointed, heart-shaped, or erect; crinkled, crested, ruffled, or waved; and mottled or variegated.
How to grow: Although ivies will grow in a warm room, they prefer temperatures ranging from 65°F (18.5°C) during the day to 45°F (7°C) at night. In hot rooms, ivies tend to get spider mites. One way to avoid these pests is to shower your plants in the sink regularly. Bright light and normal room humidity are satisfactory. Water thoroughly, but let the soil dry out somewhat between waterings. Pinch back new tips to encourage bushiness and fertilize in spring and again in summer. Repot whenever necessary, using an all-purpose potting soil. Propagate from tip cuttings.
Health benefits: English Ivy can improve symptoms of allergies and asthma. The plant rids the air of trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene and xylene. It can also reduce mold in a room by as much as 78%.
4. Snake Plant
Alternative common names: Mother-in-Law's Tongue, Saint George’s Sword, Viper’s Bowstring Hemp
Scientific name: Sansevieria Trifasciata
Description:This cultivar has lemon-yellow bands along the edges of the leaves. It grows to a height of 18 in. (45 cm). It is the most popular of the snake plants.
How to grow: These plants tolerate almost any level of neglect. They do very well in average room temperatures and in direct sun to medium or even low light. The only thing they cannot stand is overwatering. The lower the light, the less water they need, and the soil should always be allowed to dry out between waterings. From spring to fall, feed with half-strength fertilizer once a month.
Health benefits: Snake plants produce extra oxygen at night, which can improve sleep. They also help clean the air from trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene and xylene.
5. Red-edged Dracaena
Alternative common name: Dragon Tree
Scientific name: Dracaena marginata
Description: These handsome foliage plants come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and grow in different ways. They are among the most reliable of indoor plants, no matter how dark or sunny your home, you could easily find the right place for each of them. They range in size from 18 in. (45 cm) to 6ft. (1.8 m); the larger ones are particularly attractive when young.
How to grow: Bright light but no direct sun is best to keep the leaves colorful, but dracaenas often do quite well in medium light, too. Like most foliage plants, they appreciate extra humidity. Water them freely from spring to fall, keeping the soil evenly moist; in winter, let it dry out somewhat between waterings. Fertilize your plants every two weeks during the growing season. Repot using an all-purpose soil mix whenever it becomes necessary.
Health benefits: Red-edged Dracaenas reduce anxiety and improve mood by reducing chemicals including trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene and xylene.
Did you know…?
July 27 is Take Your Houseplant for a Walk Day— a holiday for proud plant parents to take their potted plant children for a stroll around the neighborhood. The idea is to expose houseplants to the outside—their native environment — and to share and seek gardening advice from neighbors.
We’re celebrating Take Your Houseplant for a Walk Day by announcing the launch of a new houseplants app, the Fieldstone Guide to Houseplants, which will feature complete descriptions, images and growing instructions for more than 300 houseplants. The app includes how to propagate, pot, and water indoor plants. The app is for everyone, from late bloomers to seasoned green thumbs.
Author: Katy Savage
7/20/2020 4 Comments
Dipuo Mankheli’s passion for fitness has taken her all over the world. The South Africa native has been a fitness instructor for the past two decades, leading and designing exercise and nutrition programs aboard the Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines. She’s most recently been the fitness director for the Canyon Ranch Spa for Cunard, serving on both the Queen Elizabeth and Cunard’s flagship, the Queen Mary 2. We at Stone Hill are proud to introduce her as our new wellness coordinator, who will be sharing health tips and tools here on our blog.
As Dipuo, like many of us, remains quarantined, Stone Hill caught up with her about how she is staying healthy during this time.
Stone Hill: Tell us about where you’re from and how that has influenced who you are.
Dipuo: I’m from Katlehong, which is one of the townships around Johannesburg in South Africa — a developing country which is better known for being a black-only residential area during the apartheid regime. English is my second language. I started speaking South Sotho and learned English in first grade, as it was and still is the main language used in all schools in South Africa, even though we have our home language. As I’ve traveled the world, I’m very proud to have represented my country.
Stone Hill: What motivates you to stay fit and healthy during this time?
Dipuo: There’s a difference between having a passion and having a job that will fade away at some point.
I’m motivated to take care of my two daughters, despite the lack of socioeconomic resources in my family and community. Both of my girls have names that are very meaningful to me. My 6 year old is named Thlaho, which means “nature” and my 3 year old is Lesedilaka, which means “my sunshine.” When you think about environmental issues and toxins affecting air quality, the two names go hand-in-hand. I’m creating a healthy lifestyle to keep my kids healthy from environmental toxins. I’m trying to protect my little girls and protect the world at the same time.
Stone Hill: What got you interested in fitness?
Dipuo: I grew up in a family of eight and we didn’t have much money. My parents wanted me to get a marketing degree.
While I was a student at Tshwane University of Technology, I started running — just recreationally, but I fell in love with aerobics — I love the music and I love to dance. In 1998, my roommate asked me to be part of an aerobics competition. I competed in the South African Student Sports Union at the aerobics national level representing my institution, which was then called Technikon Northern Gauteng. Surprisingly, I won the competition in 1998. It was unbelievable! Everybody knew I was the new kid on the block. I held the title each year until I graduated in 2003.
It turns out I was more into sports than anything else but I didn’t tell my parents I was doing the competitions. I even used to hide my trophies so my parents wouldn’t see them. They wanted me to get a degree in marketing and were concerned about my future, but I just fell in love with sports. One day I said, ‘Mom, I’m going to get my degree in marketing, but after that you have to believe in me to do what I love most.’ In 1999, I was awarded a Group Training Diploma with Reebok Instructors Alliance.
Now, I’m combining both sports and marketing together to market myself and my business.
Stone Hill: What has the Coronavirus been like in Johannesburg?
Dipuo: The spread of the virus has been very bad. Johannesburg, or Gauteng in general as a province has been rated number 3 in the whole country with 123,408 cases. There have been at least 4,804 deaths nationwide. The positive side is that many people are recovering.
Stone Hill: What have you been doing to maintain your health during this time?
Dipuo: I’m quarantined with my parents and daughters. During this lockdown I’ve been keeping my kids busy with their online school activities. I’ve also enrolled in an online personal training course to continue my knowledge of sports science.
I’ve been maintaining proper nutrition and hydration and keeping my family eating a well-balanced diet. With proper nutrition you lower the risk of chronic illness and infection.
Besides that, I’ve been keeping the household clean on a daily basis. I only go out when need be. I’m the one who goes to get groceries and before I even get inside the house, I sanitize everything.
Mental health is also important during this time. I’ve been connecting to the outside world daily via social media to keep positive vibes.
My parents have been involved in a regular exercise program. I’ve also made fun exercise routines for my little ones. My whole family has been involved in meditation and breathing techniques, including stretching every morning to help release tension and stresses incurred overnight.
Stone Hill: What are a few small things others can do to maintain their health each day?
Dipuo: Each day counts! Now more than ever it’s important to eat properly and keep yourself hydrated to boost your immune system. If your inner system is deteriorating, then the chances of you getting this deadly disease are higher.
What I’ve learned about this virus is that if your pH system is not correctly balanced, the virus is going to take you by storm. Do not allow your body to be too acidic or alkaline and remember to exercise. You don’t need to exercise for the sake of losing weight at this time. Now it’s more about relieving your stress level and keeping your body healthy.
Here are some more tips:
Covid-19 has brought new meaning to staying at home. The virus has canceled summer events and vacations, and many of us are spending more time at home than ever before. While it can be frustrating at times, staying home is not such a bad thing. Home is familiar territory, after all. It’s where we are most comfortable, most ourselves and surrounded by people who know us best.
Even before the virus hit, more Americans were choosing to skip traditional vacations to stay home. While going away on a vacation is fun and can create many lasting memories, staycationing can be just as fulfilling. Consider the benefits: You will save thousands of dollars.
You'll save money. The average family spends more than $1,100 per person on vacation each year — that’s more than a down payment on a new car.
No traveling. It takes time to adjust to being in a new place. Not going anywhere means you can set your own vacation schedule. Jet lag won’t be a factor and you’ll have more time to connect with your family.
You’ll be more rested. How many times have you come home from a vacation thinking, “I need a vacation from my vacation?” Planning a vacation away takes a lot of work. Between packing, finding someone to watch your house, your plants, your pets, and finding activities to do while you’re on vacation, causes stress and makes it harder to feel restored. You come back from vacation more tired than when you left.
Some of you may think it would be hard to avoid housework and yardwork if you staycationed, but it’s not as hard as you think if you follow these 7 guidelines:
1. Unwind. Don’t look at your work calendar.
2. Unplug. Avoid checking your email.
3. Take a break from reading the news.
4. Ditto for your mail. Again: imaging you’re traveling.
5. Give yourself a break from cleaning.
6. Same with laundry. It can wait!
7. RELAX. Make this time about YOU and your family.
For more tips, check out our ebook, “The Essential Guide to Staycationing: 7 Brilliant Tips to Make Your Home the Perfect Getaway,” which features more than 50 recipes, games, and activities for the ultimate staycation for you and your family. Subscribe to our blog and be among the first to hear about new products, get special insider discount codes, and bonus content.
Sending love and strength to you all,
Katy & the Stone Hill Team
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Welcome to Stone Hill.
Hi, everyone. No need to tell you: 2020 is only halfway through but the whole world has changed since we rang in the new decade together.
As I write this, I am sheltered in place at Stone Hill Farm, our 1781 Vermont farmstead and home and - previously - host to many beautiful weddings, family reunions, Dartmouth College reunions, gatherings of old friends, and many other special events. We have truly loved making our farm available to others to create memories to last a lifetime. We have likewise loved sharing WaterStone, our 1884 lake house on the shores of Champlain, for similar gatherings.
As a result of the global pandemic, we made the difficult decision to close out those chapters and start a new story. It is in the spirit of renewal and resilience that we WARMLY welcome you to Stone Hill: a new blog and online community delivering home design inspiration; stay-at-home health, wellness, and fitness tips; and heartwarming stories from around the globe of people making a difference for the better in this challenging time: from frontline workers battling the virus, to game changing activists leading the way in the struggle for racial equality and environmental justice. We hope our blog and our forthcoming ebooks and apps will bring you joy, serenity, and fresh ways to live each day from wherever you are. It’s time to co-create a whole new meaning to the expression “there’s no place like home.”
In this clamorous time, there’s a lot of “noise,” especially in our lives online. We aim to be an oasis of calm, centered focus - a place in our digital lives where you can visit, breathe, and recharge. So many of our guests at Stone Hill Farm and WaterStone commented, “I feel SO peaceful and calm here! Every room is like a breath of fresh air!” We intend to provide that same experience in your inbox, on our blog and our social pages, and to share with you new ways to create that same effect IRL, in your own homes and among those with whom you are living this “new normal.”
So as we launch this new project, please know that we are cheering each of you on through this time. We are here for you, and look forward to creating beautiful experiences, homes, and a renewed world with you, from our safe but ever-connected spaces.
Sending love and strength to you all,
Shyla & the Stone Hill Team
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