When it comes to sprucing up your house and health, spending a little green on greens can go a long way. It’s not just about improving your indoor aesthetic. Even if you don’t normally notice a plant’s presence, seeing a plant can subconsciously make you feel calm and relaxed.
A lot of research has gone into the benefits of plants and human health. Studies have mixed results about the benefits, ranging from increased productivity in the workplace to only benefits for men or women. But none of these studies have found evidence of negative outcomes to having indoor plants.
In many cases, it’s recommend to have one potted plant per 100 square feet to feel the benefits. Or you can get plants tailored to your needs, like removing formaldehyde from the air.
Read on to learn more about the therapeutic perks of plants. The health benefits a houseplant provides might convince you to at least adopt a desk plant.
Up to 80 to 90 percent of your time is indoors. Indoor air pollution can increase your risk for:
- stroke, by 34 percent
- ischemic heart disease, by 26 percent
- COPD, by 22 percent
- respiratory infections in children, by 12 percent
- lung cancer, by 6 percent
Plants are nature’s first air purifier. They can help remove dangerous compounds from fuels, furnishings, and clothing.
There’s conflicting research about whether or not plants can really purify the air. Many websites cite NASA’s popular Clean Air Study from 1989. But their research was done in a highly controlled space, and your home would need about 680 plants for the same effect.
But adding living green plants may still provide mild detoxification benefits to your home or office space.
Another office study notes that plants can remove up to 10 percent of the carbon dioxide in the air. They also found that three to six plants in the office can keep air toxins far below the recommended total. People also identify rooms with more plants as rooms with cleaner air.
The microclimate around plants increases air humidity but not excessively. This is probably from the water from the plants. Dry air and dust can irritate your senses.
It’s possible that plants filter airborne microbes that can infect or irritate your airways. A study at Washington State University found that 20 percent of dust was reduced with plants.
The plants used in these studies were common house plants and foliage, or tropical, plants.
Plants can also teach us a thing or two about empathy. According to Texas Agriculture & Medicine University, people who spend their time caring for nature are more likely to care for others. Caring for plants can help you increase compassion and improve your relationships.
Touching soft and smooth plants may also make you feel calmer, according to the book Holistic Solutions for Anxiety & Depression.
Flowers are associated with positive events and can act as a mood enhancer. One study found that flowers have an immediate impact on happiness and improve memory, specifically for an event. Participants of this study received flowers like roses, lilies, and daisies.
The colors you prefer may also depend on your culture and upbringing. For example, white is often associated with purity and harmony, but it’s the color of death in China.
Horticulture therapy (HT)
HT is a practice that uses gardening as therapy. It’s accepted for its rehabilitative, vocational, and community use. Outdoor gardening can reduce your risk for dementia by 36 percent. You may find similar therapeutic benefits from desk-sized Zen gardens, bonsai trees, or mini herb gardens.
HT is thought to improve recovery time as well as:
|Social improvements||Physical improvements||Vocational improvements|
|thinking abilities||coordination||problem solving|
|language skills||balance||following directions|
Some studies show that HT offers significant improvements for several behavioral and health issues, such as:
- people with late-stage cancer
In addition to social, physical, and vocational improvements like socialization and coordination, people in hospitals or care homes also:
- felt less fatigue, anxiety, and higher satisfaction
- had faster recovery time and shorter hospitalization
- were friendly to staff
- felt less dependent on painkillers
Keeping plants indoors may also be a natural life hack. After all, we can only stare at a spreadsheet for so long before productivity decreases. Having a piece of Mother Nature to look at at our desk could regenerate our attention and keep our senses and brain going.
You can receive similar benefits from indoor plants by going outdoors. One has found that having 10 more trees in a city block increases happiness almost in the same way that a $10,000 raise does.
Pictures of trees work too
A study found that pictures of nature can provide the same mood-enhancing benefits. Switch your desktop background to photos of lush landscapes. Or sit by a window and look out from time to time.
Studies found that students had a lower heart rate after seeing green spaces. This suggests that pictures of nature can help with stress recovery.
But the effect is probably much stronger when you come across the real thing.
Research shows that there are many benefits to adding indoor plants to your home or workspace. These include happier moods, better job satisfaction, and stronger relationships. It’s possible to get similar benefits from looking at photos or sitting by a window.
For most people, the risks of adding plants to indoor environments are low. Certain plants may be less likely to trigger your allergic symptoms. It’s important to note that some plants are toxic to pets and children. Ask your doctor about which indoor plants are a safe choice if you have a history of allergies.