A hobby or enjoyable leisure time activity can have a multitude of benefits for seniors. Taking part in a pastime that keeps the mind and body active not only staves off boredom, it can help reduce stress, stimulate cognitive function, and provide a sense of purpose.
Are you searching for a satisfying indoor activity for your favorite senior? Gardening has been shown to have a positive effect on our mental health. An indoor gardening project is an ideal means of encouraging your loved one to stay active and engaged.
Whether your indoor garden is a simple potted plant or a more extensive array of greenery, the act of tending to a garden provides a sense of purpose and fills the basic human need to nurture and care for another living thing. Getting in touch with nature is especially helpful for those whose limited mobility makes it difficult to enjoy the outdoors. Plus a successful indoor garden means that some beautiful blooms or greenery will brighten up the surroundings, providing a bit of cheer even in winter.
Follow these useful tips for creating a lovely indoor garden for yourself or a much-loved senior to enjoy all year round.
1. Scout Out the Best Location for the Indoor Garden
Before investing in any supplies or plants, decide on the best location for your new indoor garden. Here are some things to consider when choosing a location.
- Consider a sunny windowsill. Place a plant stand or a side table near a window, or utilize empty space on a bookshelf.
- Safety first! Locate plants away from walkways and be certain that all surfaces are stable.
- Determine whether your plants will get full sun, partial sunlight, or little to no light so that you can choose the appropriate plants. While a sunny locale is prime, you can certainly find plants that will thrive in lesser light.
- Make the most of your available space. Hanging planters can add additional garden space to small rooms, and cascading plants like English ivy can find a happy home on a bookshelf or mantle.
2. Invest in Basic Tools
Starting an indoor garden requires little investment, but be sure that your novice gardener has some basic tools and supplies on hand. Look for ergonomic hand tools that minimize hand and wrist stress.
- A small handheld shovel or spade for planting and transplanting
- Pruning shears
- A small watering can
- Potting soil — Look for a potting soil mix that contains vermiculite or perlite, both of which help retain moisture. You can find specialized potting soil mixes for certain plants as well.
- Planter boxes or containers made of plastic, terra cotta or ceramic
- Gardening gloves
- Plants, seeds or bulbs
3. Choose the Right Plants for Your Garden Setting
The key to a successful indoor garden is selecting plants that will thrive in your particular indoor living space. That lovely flowering plant is hard to pass by, but if its pretty blooms require full sun, it won't be very happy in your shady living room.
- If you are lucky enough to have a room that gets full sun, especially if your window faces south or west, go for a tropical hibiscus with its bright, showy flowers. Also try aloe vera, jade plants, or fragrant jasmine.
- For bright rooms but with indirect light, a spider plant is a great choice for a hanging planter. It will flourish in bright, indirect sun, producing little "baby" shoots that are fun to snip off for replanting. African violets are also a lovely choice for their pretty blooms that add a cheerful note to any room.
- For locales with low light, a philodendron will do well, but be careful to only water once a week. Other low light choices are dieffenbachia and ferns.
4. Consider Your Gardener
While one senior may be a total newbie gardener, another may have spent many years tending to a flourishing home garden. Be sure to tailor the indoor plant choices to the gardener when selecting your plants. Here are some general tips on choosing plants for your senior.
- Make it easy for your novice gardener with easy care plants that can survive all kinds of conditions. Succulents require little watering, although they do require lots of sunshine. A nice choice is a Christmas cactus, which will gift the gardener with bright, cheerful red flowers in the midst of winter. The snake plant, also known as mother-in-law's tongue, thrives in all environments, is very low maintenance, and is drought tolerant.
- You may know your loved one to be an attentive nurturer who just might have the tendency to over water. Try a Chinese evergreen or a peace lily.
- Keep a chart or notepad nearby as a handy reminder of the plants’ watering schedule.
5. Use Your Imagination
Once your loved one catches the gardening bug, there is no end to the enjoyable projects that you can arrange. Think outside the box with these ideas.
- Plant an herb garden. It is especially rewarding to grow some sweet smelling edibles. An easy-to-grow choice is a rosemary plant, which will grow well provided it has bright light and is kept moist. Fragrant mint is a prolific plant that can tolerate partial shade. Chives will thrive just about anywhere and unlike many herbs, can easily be grown from seed.
- Grow from seed. Watching your carefully tended seeds sprout into a new garden is incredibly satisfying. Make it fun by choose fast growing seeds like marigolds, chives and zinnias.
- Grow from bulbs. Kits are readily available on line and in big box stores that include everything you need to grow amaryllis, daffodil, or hyacinth bulbs. Imagine fragrant spring blooms gracing your indoor garden!
- Experiment with planting an avocado pit.
We hope that you and your aging loved one will enjoy creating an indoor garden together. To learn more about how to help your senior remain happy, healthy, and at home, discover our team can help. Caring Senior Service provides caregivers who help seniors live independently, safely, and happily in the comfort of their own home. To find out more about our home health care franchise opportunities, contact us.