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April is National Garden Month

Plants provide us with food, oxygen and can even help brighten up our living and work spaces. Citing a classic experiment from the 1970s, an article on psychologytoday.com states that when given a plant to care for, elderly nursing home residents live longer.

“Nurturing plants is good for us,” states the National Gardening Association on their website. According to the association, caring for plants improves our attitudes toward health and nutrition. Further kids who care for plants perform better at school, “and community spirit grows.”

April is National Garden Month. To celebrate, do something to make the world a greener, healthier and more beautiful place. Personally, I’m going to commit to keeping my family’s houseplants alive.

Like most people, I’ve always enjoyed seeing live plants in malls, offices and homes, but whenever I got the yen to add a little green to my apartment, it would end in failure—a shriveled plant languishing on a windowsill. I became so frustrated I opted to add green to my living room by filling vases with long artificial grass and reeds.

I did not learn “the secret” to keeping a houseplant alive until one day last year my son bought a little Jade plant. Unlike all of the other plants that have come into our household, my son’s plant not only lived but thrived.

At first I was afraid to touch the plant considering how many plants did not do well under my care, but then my son enlisted me to help move the plant from room to room to ensure it received the needed amount of light. If he felt the plant didn’t get enough light during the day, we’d set it under a lamp for a few hours in the evening.

When we’d had the plant for about a month, I asked my son if ever a day went by that he didn’t look after it and he said no, he checked to see if it needed water every day without fail.

The secret, I realized, was consistency, time and attention, just like with any other goal. And as with other goals, once you reach one level of competence, you move on to the next. The Jade plant has two siblings now—a small Dragon Tree, and an Echeveria Agavoides (a form of cactus).

If you’d like to grow a plant, but really don’t want to go it alone, another idea is to join a community garden. Also you can participant in any number of Earth Day Events on April 22.

For more information visit www.nationalgardenmonth.org.

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