Succulents, snake plants, monstera, and fig trees are so much more than the latest trend in home décor. Though their visual appeal is undeniable and the plant aesthetic is everywhere, these green roommates do much more than create a pretty space. Houseplants can improve your physical and mental health. This is why there has been such a surge in indoor gardening over the past two years.
Two years ago people were forced to spend more time indoors and looked for new hobbies to keep them busy and feel good. As a result, many people turned to plants and have continued to grow their indoor plant sanctuary.
It’s not surprising so many people turned to plants when stress levels were at an all-time high. Indoor plants have been shown to reduce stress levels and have a calming effect. The Journal of Physiological Anthropology published a study that found when you have plants in your home or office, you feel calmer. The study consisted of 24 young males just under thirty years old who were assigned to two groups. The first group (12 males) carried out the task of transplanting an indoor plant, and the second group worked on a computer task. Then, the two groups switched activities. Following the activity, the subjects completed a psychological and physiological evaluation.
The results found that the subjects who worked with the plant first were more comfortable, soothed, and calmer. They also found that blood pressure lowered significantly after transplanting the plant. The researchers suggested that the reduction in physiological and psychological stress was accomplished by the suppression of the sympathetic nervous system, which occurred when working with plants.
Another study found that plants can even reduce symptoms of mental illness. Referred to as horticultural therapy, the researchers found that emotional well-being could be increased for those with anxiety, dementia, and depression.
The emotional benefits are substantial, but the mental benefits don’t end there. Research suggests that the presence of real plans can improve focus and attention span. Another small plant study had 23 students attend class with a plant. Half the students were in a classroom with a fake plant, and the other half were in a class with a real plant. The brain scans of these students revealed that those who were learning in the classroom with a real plant had better concentration and were more attentive than the students in the class with the fake plant.
This is because natural is often better. A buckwheat pillow filled with organic buckwheat hulls is better than a synthetic fiber-filled pillow. A glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is better than an artificially flavored beverage, and real plants are better than plastic ones!
Improved mental performance may also be attributed to a boost in productivity. Several studies have found that when plants are in the office or workspace, productivity and creativity is increased. For example, one study found that people performed better at a creative word association task when a plant was in the room, and another study found that people took fewer sick days when their workplace had more plants.
When employees are happier, they are also more likely to have better engagement, attendance, and productivity, which is another perk of workplace plants! Research suggests that a potted plant at your cubicle could be just as beneficial as having a view of the park. A more extensive plant study interviewed over 440 Amazon employees in the United States and India. The researchers found that when individuals have a work environment with natural elements like potted house plants, they reported greater job satisfaction and commitment to the organization when compared to employees who did not have natural elements in their workplace. They believed this was because of plants' ability to reduce stress.
Reducing stress and anxiety and feeling happier are also good for your physical health. It can decrease blood pressure and minimize the risk of stress-related health conditions. Plants also benefit your physical health by improving the quality of indoor air. Plants have the incredible ability to remove contaminants from the air. This process is known as phytoremediation and was discovered by NASA in the 1980s.
The NASA researchers were looking for a way to improve the quality of air in the spacecraft and found that houseplants did just that. The plant, roots, and soil reduced the amount of airborne volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air significantly.
Further research has continued to look at phytoremediation and determine how much houseplants can really impact the quality of air in our homes. This research has determined that to have a significant air-purifying effect, you need to have a large number of plants. Additionally, some plants are better at filtering the air than others. For example, Boston fern, spider plant, bamboo palms, rubber tree, and a Ficus tree are the most effective.
Plants can also help you recover faster from surgery, injury, or illness. One review that looked at plants' effect on recovery found that those who recuperated in a space with plants required less pain medication and had shorter hospital stays.
Fortunately, you don’t have to have a green thumb or be an expert gardener to have plants in your home.
House Plants For Beginners
Many people want to welcome more plants into their homes but are afraid they will kill off every plant they get. Don’t let a previous “plant fail” prevent you from benefiting from house plants!
If you are giving it another shot, start with one plant. Don’t overwhelm yourself with multiple different species that all come with their own set of needs. For a beginner plant, look for an inexpensive, low-maintenance variety. A couple of options include:
Succulent or cactus
Monstera deliciosa (Swiss Cheese plant)
Epipremnum aureum (devil’s ivy)
Chlorophytum comosum (spider plant) – also great for air quality!
One of the most common mistakes beginners make is loving and caring for their plants a little too much. Overwatering is the most common cause of houseplant death. When you give your plant too much water, it has nowhere to go and sits in the plant. The water goes stagnant, and the roots begin to rot, which causes the plant to die. One of the easiest ways to avoid this is to use a pot and saucer that allows the plant to drain. Also, instead of watering the soil, you can mist the plants regularly with an atomizer. This increases humidity and keeps plants happy and healthy!
In addition to picking low-maintenance plants, consider where the plant will go in your home and why you want it. For example, if you love the smell of lavender and use lavender linen spray, you can also get a lavender plant to keep in your room. Just keep in mind lavender requires a good amount of sunshine! If you have a plant large enough, you could also harvest the lavender buds yourself, but it may be best to keep your small indoor lavender plant intact and purchase lavender buds separately.
Where you keep your plants is also very important. Some plant species require a lot of sunlight (lavender), whereas others require very little. Too much or too little sun can harm your plant, so knowing how much natural light they’ll get before picking your plant is essential. Plant shopping is made easier with the small info tags you’ll find in the pot. These tags will often describe how much work is involved, how much sun or shade is needed, and how often you’ll have to water. It is recommended that beginners keep these until they are comfortable caring for their plants.
If you have pets or small children in your home, you should also ensure you choose nontoxic plants. Unfortunately, some plants are poisonous, and if your curious pet or toddler eats a leaf, it could have adverse health effects and even result in death. The ASPCA and National Poison Control offer a list of common house plants that can pose a threat so you can avoid them.
You can create your own plant sanctuary that gives you an increased sense of serenity, joy, and purpose. It can become your refugee from life’s stresses, and tending your green housemates can provide all the benefits listed here.
After waking up on your buckwheat pillow, you can make yourself a cup of coffee and head to your plant sanctuary. Misting your plants, turning the pot, and wiping the leaves can have the same impact as a meditation. Additionally, if your plants are in a location where they get morning sunlight, you can reset your circadian rhythm and improve sleep quality.
With benefits like these, it's clear to see why a house plant remains the most popular house warming gift! Improved sleep quality, concentration, focus, creativity, and productivity, as well as a reduction in stress, anxiety, and VOCs, are huge perks! In addition to looking great and giving you that plant aesthetic, getting a new plant will make you feel better in more ways than one.