5 Ways to Combat the Winter Blues

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Do the winter blues have you down? With chill of winter firmly in place across the Philadelphia region, that often means you get less fresh air with the windows buttoned up tight. The shorter winter days allow for less time in the sunlight, so it's no surprise you may feel glum. Here are a few natural ways to combat the blues with gardening. These indoor plants and flowers will purify your air, and add some color and lovely scents to your home.

1. A Tropical Vacation at Home

A great way to boost your winter mood is to plan a warm-destination vacation! But if that isn't in the budget, how about bringing the tropics to you with a few colorful plants? Sansevieria (a common variety known as Snake Plant) can survive and thrive in almost any home, and they have interesting patterns on their glossy stalks. Philodendrons are another houseplant that are easy to care for, also with unique colors. Citrus plants, like lemon trees and jasmine plants produce fragrant blooms that can scent the whole house, according to PHS Meadowbrook Farm Estate Gardener Julie Bare. Care tip: Avoid overwatering! More indoor plants die from overwatering than from anything else.

2. Succulents

Succulents and cacti are still adorable and trendy, and best of all, durable little guys that thrive with less frequent watering, about every two to three weeks in the winter. Place on a sunny but drafty windowsill, as they like a cool period to produce blooms. Cool temperatures can even turn the foliage different colors! PHS Meadowbrook Farm, a garden center and estate located in Jenkintown, also carries a special cactus and succulent soil mix that has a fantastic reputation for helping plants thrive.

3. Kitchen Herb Garden

Fresh herbs can be yours all year long! Start with basil, a staple in most kitchens. This sweet and fragrant herb is so versatile you can use it in tons of dishes. And the fresh leaves beat the dried version any day.

If you are a slow cooker lover, you need to have some bay leaves at the ready for almost every stew recipe. Give it plenty of space to breathe, and this perennial herb will keep on giving.

Homemade pizza, anyone? Oregano from your windowsill will bring your homemade pies to the next level of scrumptious! Begin your sprout with a snip from an existing plant and place in a south-facing window.

This natural air freshener is delicious on chicken or roasted potatoes! Rosemary can buddy up with oregano in a south-facing window, and snip as needed when the stems reach six inches.

Keep your herbs on the sunniest windowsill you have. Water when signs of wilt start. Once the danger of frost is past, you can move them outside to enjoy the fresh warm air of spring and summer.

4. Orchids

Orchids are tougher and more adaptable than the reputation that precedes them, though there are definitely some fussy varieties. Phalaenopsis is the easiest to care for and is widely available. You can watch the roots drink water - they'll turn from silver to green. When your orchid is done flowering, don't toss it! Trim the old stalks, keep in sunny, south-facing window, water every other week and new flowers will return.

The biggest difference between orchids and other houseplants is that orchids do not grow in soil. Instead place your orchid in a pot filled with chips of bark, stones, or another loosely packed material - allowing water to drain quickly. Water thoroughly once a week, and allow to dry completely between each watering. Most orchids do best with six hours of light each day - south- and east-facing windows are best. Add some humidity and your orchid will stay very happy!

5. Ferns and Begonias

If you're up for a little challenge, try a fern or a begonia. These plants are highly efficient at purifying indoor air. Begonias - especially a rhizomatous variety recommended by PHS Meadowbrook Farm Grower John Kaszan - are great houseplants with diversity in color and foliage. Keep the soil evenly moist, and avoid wet feet, and some light misting or a humidifier will help the transition indoors.

There are a lot of fern varieties that do well indoors, but John recommends davallia or pyrrosia for something clean and unusual. Feed ferns sparingly indoors, with a well-balanced fertilizer like Jack's All Purpose, on a monthly basis if at all in the winter. Keep the soil moist as well, and don't forget to mist for humidity!

The 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, "Holland: Flowering the World," will usher in spring at the Pennsylvania Convention Center from March 11 - 19 with designs inspired by the innovative and sustainable landscapes by Dutch designers. At the Make & Take craft area, located in the Grand Hall, you can make your own succulent or herb garden to bring home

PHS Meadowbrook Farm will have expert staff on hand and an array of plants and flowers for sale at the PHS Shop at the Flower Show.

CLICK HERE to buy tickets now!