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More Tips for Houseplant Care
Poinsettia. that started from a 6" plant and is now 2 years old. Loves light.
 Water twice a week.

In response to the article, The Healing Benefits of the Humble Houseplant in the Fall 2020 newsletter, a resident of the Chicago ashram adds her thoughts and tips on living with houseplants:.

I have had houseplants most of my adult life. As explained in the article, they thrive if they have enough light, the correct amount of water, and some added nutrients on a regular basis, especially during the spring and summer seasons. I would like to mention three points to help plants stay healthy and thrive:

Plant in puja room
Two plants that love indirect light. They are on top of a bookshelf away from windows. Better to let the soil dry between watering.

Boost of Energy in a Puja Room

As many of you have an altar or a place to meditate, you may have experienced how your meditation room or meditation corner is charged with spiritual energy. Plants love that energy and thrive in that environment. A long time ago, before meeting Amma, I lived in the Sivananda Yoga Center in Paris, France. There were lots of plants in every room. One of my sevas was to care for the plants, and to buy fresh cut flowers for all the altars situated in the Puja Room plus the three Yoga rooms. Every week, before the Saturday evening satsang, I would buy fresh cut flowers and prepare them into smaller bouquets for each room: the Puja room, the Yoga rooms, and the registration desk, where we welcomed the Yoga students.

After doing this same seva for some time, I noticed that the flowers placed on the reception desk always withered first. In contrast, the bouquet sitting in the Puja room thrived and lasted longer than all the other ones. I wondered about it, because each of these small bouquets originally came from the exact same larger bunches of flowers, which I had purchased myself on the same day. Why, I wondered, was there such a big difference?

As this pattern was consistent, I deduced that flowers love the meditation energy much better than the chatting at the registration desk! Later, I used this principle to help when one plant was not doing well. I would place it near the altar, in the puja room, for some time. Almost every time, a sick plant would heal if placed near an altar.


Plants by the window
Many plants thrive on a sunny window

Lavender Tea to Cleanse Pests

Lavender is a strong scented, bushy evergreen plant, widely used for its fragrance. Since ancient times it has been used for its medicinal properties. This herb thrives in some of the toughest conditions. I saw them growing wild in very arid soil in Provence, southern France. The tradition of placing a lavender sachet with your clothes is not just for the nice fragrance, but mainly to repel moths. Contemplating this information, I thought the lavender could repel other kinds of pests. I tried essential lavender oil during my Yoga Teacher Course, where so many mosquitoes were taking advantage of the quiet meditation times. It was fairly efficient for about one hour; therefore, I could enjoy a short, worry-free meditation.

At one point, when a plant at the Yoga Center in Paris was infested with pests, I decided to try lavender. The essential oil might be too strong and may kill the plant, so I made a tea with dried lavender flowers and it successfully healed this plant. Since then, I have used homemade lavender tea often, for sick plants, with a high rate of success.

Homemade lavender tea is an efficient and inoffensive way to rid a plant of pests. Here are instructions on how to make it:

    1. Bring to a boil one quart of water with one tsp of dry lavender flowers. (DO NOT use essential oil, even diluted; it is too strong and will kill the plant!)

    2. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. You may enjoy the wonderful, calming aroma spreading through the whole kitchen

    3. When the tea is done, let it cool down to room temperature. (NEVER POUR HOT TEA ON A PLANT. It could kill the plant!)

    4. Strain the tea and save in a glass bottle

There are three ways to use the lavender tea, depending of the kind of plant and the severity of the pest infection:

  • Water the infected plant with some lavender tea instead of regular water, and as often as you would water this plant, not more, not less often
  • Using a spray bottle, spray lavender tea on the plant’s leaves, both on top and under the leaves
  • Wash the leaves with the lavender tea, using a soft cotton cloth (like from an old T-shirt). DO NOT do that for plants with tiny or delicate leaves; instead, just use a spray bottle

This treatment may need to be repeated regularly for some time. It may take several weeks, but if you watch the plant closely, you will notice an improvement. Continue as needed until the plant heals completely.

Nowadays, I also like to first use a mix of Amma’s Holy Water and Bach Flower Rescue Remedy, to boost a plant’s energy; especially after a plant is moved to a new home, or just a new location, or is being re-potted.

Succulents and cactus
Succulents and cactus all love light. Water some twice a week, every week or only every 2 weeks
Mejold Date Tree
Two year old Mejold Date Tree grown from a date pit. It can grow to 6'. Needs light and warmth. Do not expect dates, but with Amma’s Grace anything is possible!!! 


Plant Light for the Winter Months

I lived for many years in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had to adjust the care for houseplants in that particular location. During the summer months, the dry and hot climate allowed many houseplants to thrive outdoors. In contrast, as early as mid-October, or during the cold winter months with snow outside and temperatures dropping below freezing, I would move all the houseplants back indoors. I had to choose the best spot for each one of them.

I often did not have enough window space for the ones craving direct sunlight. One spring, I received a big hibiscus plant, which can grow very tall. This plant thrives outside, blooming continuously throughout the summer. In the fall, in spite of being brought indoors, it began to lose one leaf after the next. I did not know what to do. There was no place I could find with direct sunlight for such a big plant. I finally resorted to buying a plant light. Placing the plant in my bedroom, I set up the light with a timer, for eight hours of light. It did not take long for the plant to sprout new leaves. Later, I had the wonderful surprise of seeing a flower bud blooming on this hibiscus bush. I enjoyed several blooms in the middle of the winter, and in my bedroom!

This hibiscus lived many years in this rhythm: outdoors in the summer months and indoors with a plant light in the winter months. Some years later, I moved to California near the San Ramon ashram. I was not allowed to take any plants with me per California State Regulation. At that crucial time, with Amma’s Grace, each of my thirty plants had found a new home at several Santa Fe devotees’ residences!

My love for plants has grown over the years, and by caring for them, each one has taught me where it likes to be, and how much water it needs, which changes with the season. Amma had said to kiss the plants. This has become a natural way to talk with them. I now live at the Chicago ashram in a basic studio, currently with eighteen plants! I had chosen a studio facing Southeast mainly for that reason.

May your love for Mother Nature grow by caring for plants, indoor or outdoor, and especially within your heart.

Pranava - Chicago

This succulent prefer shade and dry soil, water every other week.

Read MA Center Washungton, DC's GreenFriends initiatives from the Q1 2021 newsletter >>

We would love to hear about your indoor gardening experience this season. Please write to us at info@greenfriendsna.org.


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