While almost everyone knows that houseplants can lend beauty to a home, many are unaware that they also make the air around us more breathable. Plants breathe carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Houseplants can also render themselves even more useful if we use the right plants. I’d like to suggest using herbs as houseplants. Their various colors, tantalizing aromas, and general usefulness in the kitchen and “medicine cabinet” render them ideal choices.
The following are a few of my favorites and are among the easiest to have around.
There are over 100 types of mint, the most common being peppermint, spearmint, water mint, and catmint. All four are not only pleasing to the nose, eyes and taste buds, but they are also handy to have around in case of a variety of health problems, including toothache, (the essential oil acts as a swift-acting anesthetic), headaches, menstrual cramps, etc. It is also used to soothe insect bites. Used in the kitchen, they add a touch of sweetness to almost every dish.
Mint is probably one of the easiest plants to grow. Water mint and spearmint can both be started as seeds, transplanting or even with a simple cutting placed in either water or soil, while peppermint, as a hybrid-cross of the first two, “takes” only with the latter two methods. They aren’t particularly picky about soil types, but it must be kept moist at all times. When choosing a setting for mint plants, keep in mind that they require indirect sunlight and will send out trailers arriving up to 6 feet or more if it’s not readily available.
Mint is a perennial plant, so if watered twice a week (water should be placed in a dish under the pot) it can last a very long time. Be careful—the cone-shaped flowers will produce seeds and you could end up with more mint than you bargained for.
No Italian home is without at least one pot of basil growing in the window sill or on the balcony. Its aromatic, sweet flavor lends a hand to just about anything it’s added to, especially tomato sauce. It’s also an excellent digestive and counteracts the acidity of many foods. It is also an anti-oxidant and is thought to booster the immune system.
Basil plants are annual and are produced by planting the seeds. It is a very hardy, attractive plant with sweet-scented leaves, which can be very small, up to very large, according to the type. They grow very quickly in direct sunlight and begin to crowd as they grow taller; they can be transferred into other pots.
Tip: pinching off the tips will cause the plants to grow sideways instead of upward. The more tips you pinch off, the better the plant grows and more leaves you will have.
By violets, I’m not referring to those African Violets which are a common houseplant, but the type of violets that grow mainly in the wild. Both types are equally pleasing to the eye, but the common violet is not only attractive with its heart-shaped green leaves and dark purple flowers, but they are also a delightful culinary attraction, as well as having excellent medicinal qualities that act mainly on the respiratory tract.
Your best bet for growing violets is to buy them from a nursery and to transplant them into pots, usually around February to April, depending on your area. If you are lucky enough to live close to a natural habitat, you should wait until September or October, and then dig up a few, with ample soil, and put them in pots. The dark purple flowers appear from mid-March until early June, again depending on your area. The plants are perennial, and like most perennials, tend to be invasive. They should be kept in a shaded spot.
Most herbs can be grown both outside as well as inside. They are useful in many ways and many are as attractive, or even more so, as traditional houseplants. So, when choosing new houseplants, give herbs a try.
With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...