Studies have indicated that growing things is good for human health. That's true for older adults, too; one study published in a medical journal found that seniors who gardened reported overall higher self-esteem and social engagement than those who didn't. Older adults who gardened also tended to get more exercise and movement and remain productive in other ways.
But what happens if you decide to move into an independent living or assisted living community? You might give up a larger yard with plenty of space for a garden for the vibrant social atmosphere, security and convenience of the community — but that doesn't mean you have to give up gardening.
Many assisted living communities have shared garden spaces where residents can grow flowers, vegetables and other plants. And if you want your very own garden space, container and indoor gardening offer some choices.
Yes, in most cases, you can grow things in your assisted living apartment. If you have access to a private or shared patio or balcony area off of your apartment, you may also be able to container garden in that area.
Most assisted living communities do allow residents to grow small plants in their apartments, but it's always a good idea to reach out to your community staff to find out if there are any restrictions before you get started.
Almost any plant can be grown in a container in an indoor environment or small patio area — even small trees. But you may want to start with some plants that are best suited to these environments and easiest to grow.
Herbs are one of the easiest plants to cultivate in a container. While they won't grow as large as they would in a garden or the wild, plants like lavender, basil, mint, thyme and parsley will all grow well in small pots or window gardens. These are a great option if you like to make your own teas or wellness poultices or prefer fresh-picked herbs in your food.
Some produce cultivates well in containers. Tomatoes, salad greens and lettuces, broccoli and strawberries can all be grown in containers. When you grow these plants in container gardens, you're also working toward fresh, healthy snacks for yourself and others.
Of course, you can also grow plenty of green plants and flowers simply to enjoy their beauty. Hydrangeas, succulents, English ivy, peace lilies and air plants are just a few possibilities to consider.
Before you gather supplies and plant anything, it's a good idea to consider the following factors. They'll help you determine what you can grow in your space.
If you have a green thumb, love gardening or just always wanted to learn how to grow things, now's a great time. Take time to read up on indoor or container gardening, talk to assisted living staff and other residents for tips, and start small with a few potted plants.