Can growing houseplants really help turn our homes into better places to be? We might be biased, but we absolutely think so! Not only are plants absolutely beautiful to look at, numerous scientific studies have found that indoor plants offer 2 potential benefits for us: improved psychological well-being and improved physical health! Stay with me while I explain more...

1. Improving your mood

The soul loves the soothing and calming effects of nature. That is why you find many people like staring at the blue sky or listening to the softly blowing wind. Plants are nature, and just seeing the greenery around us makes the soul and the spirits feel alive. Just like the greenery outside, indoor plants have the same effects. In addition, visual beauty and cozy environments have a way of elevating happiness and mood. Styling up a home or office with indoor plants can liven up even the most boring of spaces. Their beauty creates a soothing and comfortable atmosphere that works wonders in lifting the spirits.

People who keep plants in their home feel happier and more relaxed. As a result of the positive energy they derive from the environment, the chances of suffering from stress-related depression are decreased as well. Overall, adding plants to your home or work environment makes you feel more relaxed, secure, and happy. Plants can help you achieve a more optimistic outlook on your life, bringing you both pleasing visual stimulation and helping you to increase your perceived happiness.

2. Lowering stress and anxiety

There’s been ongoing research that suggests that indoor plants not only purify the air, but have calming effects on your stress levels and blood pressure. Researchers found that people at work who kept a small plant on their desk had lower levels of anxiety and stress at the end of four-weeks than colleagues without a plant. Explanations range from the calming effect of the colour green, to the emotional satisfaction you get from successfully caring for plants and the relaxing effects of some floral scents. 

In another study, participants were given two different tasks: repotting a houseplant or completing a short computer-based task. After each task, researchers measured the factors associated with stress, including heart rate and blood pressure. They found that the indoor gardening task lowered the stress response in participants. The computer task, on the other hand, caused a spike in heart rate and blood pressure, even though the study participants were young men well-accustomed to computerised work. We know what we'd rather be doing! It's also been found that houseplants can suppress your sympathetic nervous system, which essentially means they can lower your blood pressure and help you to feel calmer.

3. Improving your focus

Have you ever had those days where you spend a little too much time staring at a blinking cursor or had days where words were trapped on the tip of your tongue? What you may have needed was some plant therapy. Studies have also proven that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity by up to 15 percent! In a small study, researchers put students in a classroom with either a fake plant, a real one, a photograph of a plant, or no plant at all. Brain scans of the participants showed that the students who studied with real, live plants in the classroom were more attentive and better able to concentrate than students in the other groups. Sorry, plastic plants won’t help you pass your exams!

Other studies even show that plants can boost a host of other cognitive skills such as creative thinking, spatial processing and more. These effects likely come from a plant’s stimulating colors, energising aromas and oxygenating abilities. Striking the right balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide is key to optimal brain function. Since many of us spend several hours indoors, we’re exposed to higher amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2). Higher levels of CO2 make it harder to concentrate, think clearly, and make decisions. The oxygen generated by indoor plants, however, helps balance the levels of carbon dioxide in our bodies. It’s the reason why time spent outdoors and “getting a breath of fresh air” clears our minds.

4. Help us live longer

Blue Zones are regions around the world where people commonly live past 100 years of age. These unique, and oftentimes remote, communities have many things in common, but one common thread is their connectedness to nature and practice of gardening. Most of us will never experience living in a blue zone, but we can potentially add years to our lives if we surround ourselves with plants. After all, people who garden have a lower risk of chronic illnesses and some doctors have started prescribing walks through nature to as a supplement to medicine. Plants for the win yet again.

Researchers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted an eight year, nationwide study on the link between living near vegetation and women’s mortality rates. Using data collected from over 100,000 women, the researchers found that for the women living in the greenest surroundings, the mortality rate was 12 percent lower than that of the women living in less green areas. In other words, being surrounded by trees and plants can help women live longer!

5. Improves the air quality

According to NASA, indoor plants can remove up to 87% of toxins in the surrounding air and water, in just 24 hours of entering a home! Some plants emit water vapour. The water vapour can help prevent the mucous membranes of the nose and throat from drying out and leaving a person more susceptible to viruses, bacteria, and allergens. Some plants have been found to absorb toxins from the air such as benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde! So what does this actually mean? 

Air pollution contributes to thousands of early deaths per year, and significantly increases our risk for many health problems such as asthma, bronchitis, heart and lung disease. Therefore, anything that we can do to cleanse the air in our homes, however small, is surely worthwhile. NASA researched techniques to clean the air in space stations and prevent the astronauts from getting sick. Its results found that certain indoor plants can provide a natural way of purifying air and removing toxic agents such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. NASA researchers suggest that efficient air cleaning in your home (or any indoor space) can be achieved by placing at least one plant per 100 square feet. Check out our Air Purifying plants here!

November 09, 2021 — amy farebrother