Making Scents of Gardening Indoors
One of the most pleasurable reasons to grow plants indoors is the fresh smells that certain plants bring into your home. Here are some of Matt LeBannister’s favorites.
There are so many reasons gardening indoors just makes sense. One often-overlooked reason is the wonderful aroma that growing the right plants can bring into your home. The intoxicating scents certain plants give off can transport one to distant worlds like the countryside of Southern France or back in time to a memory almost lost but not forgotten. Beyond that, aromatic plants can bring a taste of the outdoors in, and freshen any room naturally without resorting to artificial mists and sprays.
Whenever I smell lavender, I am transported in an instant to Southern France, and visuals of endless rolling hills of purple bring me peace. As an aromatherapy tool, this plant’s essential oils are said to encourage a state of serenity and relaxation and using the oils at nighttime can help people sleep during restless, stress-filled nights. A couple dabs of lavender oil and you will be followed by this marvelous scent throughout the day, or it can be added to bath water for a relaxing bath. Lavender flowers can also be brewed into a delicious tea that will soothe the body and the mind, or dried and preserved for a potpourri.
Lavender is easy to grow at home in containers. It can be started from seed or brought inside from your garden. Choose a pot several inches larger than the plant to give it enough root space. Lavender needs well-draining soil or potting mix with good aeration to thrive. Make sure you do not overwater your lavender—allow it to become almost dry before re-watering. When harvesting, never cut into the old wood.
Once potted, you must find a sunny windowsill with 4-6 hours of direct sunlight. Or you can grow your lavender under fluorescent light bulbs. Lavender does well with a light breeze, so consider using an oscillating fan. As well as being good for the lavender, the fan will also spread its smell throughout your home.
The scent of mint summons forth thoughts of freshness and cleanliness, although hopefully chewing gum and toothpaste are not the only things people associate mint with. There are many varieties of mint. The most common and popular are peppermint and spearmint and there are many types of each. Growing mint plants in containers in your home is like having living air fresheners that replenish themselves. Gently brush the mint plants with your hand and have the whole room, and likely your hand, smell fresh and minty for hours.
Mint has many uses, including aiding digestion, helping relieve upset stomachs and as a decongestant. Breathing in the vapors as your mint tea steeps will help decongest clogged airways, then drinking the tea can ease upset stomachs and aid digestion.
All mint varieties can be grown indoors easily as mint is a hearty, fast-growing plant. Mint likes to spread, so keep plants in separate containers so they don’t take over your entire garden. Place the container with your mint in a sunny windowsill or under some fluorescent lights and watch it take off. Harvest the tops of your mint plants and they will grow back vigorously.
Basil is one of those amazingly potent, aromatic culinary herbs. There are numerous varieties of basil such as Thai, African and sweet basil. Although basil is not native to the region, one cannot help but think of mouth-watering Italian cuisine when smelling basil. Its pungent but sweet aroma takes basil beyond the average culinary herb. Basil is also a beautiful plant that makes it perfect for ornamental purposes. Basil tastes as good as it smells and is a core ingredient in countless Italian and Asian dishes.
Basil can easily be grown in any kitchen. It needs a small- to medium-sized container with well-draining soil or potting mix, and a sunny window to get lots of direct and indirect sunlight. Alternatively, one can grow basil under fluorescent lights. Basil should be harvested from the top of the plant to allow the plant to become more bushy than tall and ensure the plant keeps growing for a continuous harvest. Basil can also be hand-dried and stored for later use.
There are so many great reasons to start an indoor garden. The terrific aromas that lavender, mint and basil plants emit—and the joy we experience while smelling them—is just one simple reason. There are countless varieties of plants that can bring the smell of summer indoors and brighten up our days.
Written by Matt LeBannister