Caring for house plants turns out to be one of the healthiest indoor activities.
In these sequestered times, when we are spending more time at home than ever, we need a home that gives us every advantage. Here’s a time-honored idea for cleaner air, better feng shui, emotional cheering, better productivity, co2 absorption, and just plain making your rooms prettier: house plants.
“Plant therapy isn’t just a buzz-word—it’s a real thing,” says Mélanie Berliet, general manager the lifestyle, home, and food site, The Spruce.
“In fact,” she continues, “Research has shown that the absence of plants in our lives is linked to increased stress, anxiety, and even depression. Alternatively, spending time in spaces with lots of plants can have a therapeutic effect and lead to feelings of calmness and reduced stress. Caring for houseplants has also been shown to help reduce feelings of loneliness and depression and instill a sense of accomplishment and purpose.”
Emotional benefits are just the beginning. While scientists argue over whether house plants actually purify the air, designers and architects agree that bits of nature indoors increase mood and productivity while fostering calm.
In a 2015 randomized crossover study administered by the NIH and published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, young men alternately transplanted a Peperomia dahlstedtii, a common indoor plant, and performed a computer task. They were then monitored for mood, heart rate and blood pressure. Results showed that, consistently, after working with the plants, subjects felt happier and evinced lower blood pressure and heart rates than after working with computers.The differences were significant. In particular, diastolic blood pressure was much lower after the transplanting task.
The results suggest that active interaction with indoor plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress compared with mental work. This is accomplished through suppression of sympathetic nervous system activity and diastolic blood pressure and promotion of comfortable, soothed, and natural feelings.
One of the indoor-plant chores Mélanie Berliet recommends is cleaning their leaves.
“As anyone who has gone away for two weeks knows, it doesn’t take long for dust to accumulate on houseplants,” she says. “A layer of dust on the leaves will block sunlight and reduce the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. Since photosynthesis is the process by which a plant feeds itself, it’s essential to ensure that this process isn’t interrupted. A clean plant that’s photosynthesizing at optimal levels is more likely to remain healthy and live longer.”
For beginners, Mélanie Berliet recommends her favorite plant:
“I am a big fan of snake plants, with their tall stiff leaves reaching northward towards the sky. Snake plants are tough to kill, and I adore this about them. In fact, I had a snake plant on my desk at the office that I was forced to abandon when the pandemic hit. Four months later, I was able to visit the office to collect my belongings and my deskside plant was still very much alive! If you’re seeking a low maintenance green friend for your home, I highly recommend investing in a snake plant.”