Scrolling through beautiful “home inspiration” images on Pinterest I’m always drawn to the pictures featuring beautiful plants. There is just something about light filled spaces with vibrant pops of green. Plants are the easiest and prettiest way to spruce up your decor - be it at home or your office. When we spend so much time indoors, it makes sense to invite a little nature in don’t you think?
Prettiness aside, there are a host of health benefits from adding more foliage to your living and working space. Here are just a few:
1. Purify the air
The humble pot plant is nature’s best air purifier. They can rid your home of toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene which are usually found in paint, cigarettes, vinyl and solvents.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air quality is one of the top five risks to public health. Unbeknown to us, our homes can be brimming with toxic chemicals exhuming from vinyl flooring, our carpets, paint and air fresheners. Luckily, there are plants that can help detoxify your indoor air.
Plants like Aloe Vera can actually absorb chemicals from cleaning products and even gives you a warning sign by developing brown spots if the chemicals reach a high level.
Image: Cox and Cox
The Peace Lily is great for absorbing pollutants such as formaldehyde (found in carpeting) trichloroethylene (found in plastics), benzene (found in paints), and xylene (found in adhesives).
2. Natural stress busters
There’s no escaping stress these days, but adding some pot plants can help lower the effects of stress and fatigue. There are studies that found how having plants in offices helps lowered people’s heart rate, blood pressure and even respiratory problems. Instead of bringing treats, do the office team a big favour and bring some beautiful plants to the office.
3. Save money
Start an edible garden at home. Think herbs, dwarf tomatoes, carrots, citrus plants, and even asparagus. It’s a great way to save some cash, but also reduce the number of pesticides in your diet. If you have children, starting an indoor garden is a great way to teach them about how food grows, and give them a sense of responsibility at home.
Try growing some herbs like Parsley as it thrives in a pot in the sun as long as the soil is kept moist. Parsley is actually a great immune-system booster. Eat one tablespoon of chopped flatleaf or curly parsley daily. It can also help with bad breath.
Image: Olive and Cocoa
4. Improve your sleep
I didn’t know this until recently but plants like Jasmine, Lavender, Aloe Vera and Gardenia can actually improve the quality of your sleep! These plants can give off a gentle soothing effect that can help lower blood pressure and stress levels. They can also help reduces anxiety levels, which can improve your overall mood, and wellbeing.
The Areca Palm or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is great evening oxygen producers – making them an excellent plant choice for the bedroom. I love the look of the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue. This yellow-tipped succulent releases oxygen at night, helping you to breathe better while sleeping. It is one of the best plants for filtering the air of formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene.
5. Improve productivity
After 10 years of research, Dr Chris Knight from Exeter University and his fellow psychologists concluded that employees were 15% more productive when offices are filled with just a few houseplants, as employees who actively engage with their surroundings were found to be better workers.
In the study, minimalist offices were spruced up with greenery, as perceptions of air quality, concentration and workplace satisfaction were monitored over the course of two months. The psychologists stated that “offices devoid of pictures, souvenirs or any other distractions are “the most toxic space” you can put a human into as workers perform better when household plants are added to workplaces.”
Additionally, when plants were brought into the offices, (one plant per square metre) employee performance on memory retention and other basic tests improved substantially.
6. They can help fight colds
According to a University of Agriculture in Norway study, indoor plants can reduce fatigue, coughs, sore throats and other cold-related illnesses by more than 30 percent, partially by increasing humidity levels and decreasing dust. This is because the plant’s ability to humidify the air and decrease dust can help fight viruses that cause colds and coughs. Some plants are better at this than others, however, opt for fragrant eucalyptus has the ability to clear congestion from one’s system.
The Areca palm helps restore moisture to dry winter air at levels comparable to an electric humidifier.
7. Improve your overall wellbeing
Having flowers around the home and office greatly can improve your mood and reduces the likelihood of stress-related depression. Flowers and ornamental plants increase levels of positive energy and help people feel secure and relaxed. I make a habit of getting fresh flowers for our home weekly, or as needed. Some flowers tend to last longer than others.
The presence of plants in hospital recovery rooms and/or views of aesthetically-pleasing gardens help patients to heal faster, due to the soothing effects of ornamental horticulture.