If you’re like most people, whether at work, school, or home, you likely spend most of your time indoors.
Did you know that indoor plants can improve your air quality, productivity, and health? It’s true! This blog post will discuss the benefits of indoor plants and provide some tips for choosing the right plants for your environment.
One of the most well-known benefits of house plants is improving indoor air quality. In general, the larger and leafier the plant, the better.
Having a few plants can also improve indoor air in dry environments because plants release moisture vapor. Dry air can cause various health problems, including respiratory problems and skin irritation. Plants help to increase humidity levels and reduce symptoms.
One of the main benefits is that plants absorb carbon dioxide. Indoor air is polluted with carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other toxins. Indoor plants can help to remove these pollutants.
Indoor plants absorb harmful VOCs like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. In 1989, NASA found that house plants can remove 10-70% of VOCs in the air within 24 hours. However, to produce similar outcomes in your own home, NASA recommends at least one plant per every 100 square feet.
Some of the best-recommended plants for air purification include snake plants, Boston ferns, English ivy, peace lilies, and money plants.
How Did Toxins Get in My House?
Formaldehyde: The United States Environmental Protection Agency states that formaldehyde is found in the house itself due to formaldehyde in building materials. This includes pressed wood products such as particleboard, plywood paneling, and fiberboard.
Other materials are glues and adhesives, preservatives in paints, and fuel-burning appliances. Formaldehyde can also be found in typical household goods, including drapery and clothing, because it can be used to give fabrics permanent press qualities. Along with irritating the respiratory system, formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans.
Benzene: Benzene is used to create plastics, rubbers, dyes, drugs, pesticides, and detergents, but is mainly used as a starter material in creating other chemicals. In fact, in the United States, benzene is one of the top 20 most commonly used chemicals. Nearly half of benzene exposure in the United States is from cigarette smoke. According to the American Cancer Society, benzene can cause cancer, particularly in the blood, such as leukemia.
Trichloroethylene (TCE): Trichloroethylene is mostly found in refrigerant products and contaminated groundwater. For drinking water, granular activated carbon filters are a great choice to remove it.
However, TCE is also found in common household products such as carpet cleaning solutions, varnishes, adhesives, and paint. TCE can cause lung irritation, dizziness, and headaches.
In 2020, Minnesota was the first state to ban the use of trichloroethylene and require a state-issued permit to use it. TCE is a kidney and liver toxin and is harmful to male reproduction. Not only is it a carcinogen, but TCE is also known to cause neurological damage.
Other VOCs: Unfortunately, more VOCs are hiding in the everyday products in your house. VOCs can be found in detergents, disinfectants, air fresheners, and paints. They can also be found in new furniture, cabinets, and carpets.
In addition to creating clean indoor air, potted plants can also provide health benefits. Although many of them are related to improved air quality, other benefits of indoor plants include improved mood and reduced psychological and physiological stress. Having a plant collection in your environment is a great way to improve your overall health and well-being.
According to a study by Kansas State University, indoor plants in hospital rooms resulted in increased patient satisfaction, fewer complaints about the environment, and less stress for staff.
It also resulted in positive physiological outcomes, such as lower pain, anxiety, and fatigue. Plants improve air quality and have also reduced the need for pain medication.
Having indoor plants in your environment has also been shown to boost productivity. A study conducted by Washington State University found a link between indoor plants and increased worker productivity and reduced physiological stress.
During the study, participants were asked to complete a task, while one group completed it in the presence of plants, and the other group did not have indoor plants. The group with indoor plants reported feeling 10 percent more attentive than those who completed the task without indoor plants present.
In addition to that, a study conducted by the University of Exeter found that investing in interior landscape plants can increase general well-being by 47 percent, creativity by 45 percent, and productivity by 38 percent.
Horticulture therapy is a form of treatment that uses plants and gardening to improve patients’ mental and physical health. It can be used to treat various conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and dementia.
Horticultural therapy has shown to be an effective way to improve moods, reduce stress, and improve cognitive function.
Choosing the Right Plant
When choosing an indoor plant, it’s essential to consider your environment and the amount of sunlight available. Not all plants are suitable for every environment.
Some great starter plants are snake plants, peace lilies, Haworthia Zebra, and spider plants. Others include ZZ plants, bamboo palm, Chinese evergreens, and most succulents and cactuses. Many of these starter plants are also great for air purification.
Some of the more difficult plants to care for include Boston ferns, orchids, fiddle leaf figs, croton, gardenia, and Zebra plants (not to be confused with Zebra Haworthia).
Although indoor plants are a great way to clean indoor air, if you are prone to allergies, there are some things to consider. Be sure to stay away from flowering plants because they produce pollen. Some plants to avoid include African violets, weeping figs, ferns, bonsais, and orchids. Although palms are great for improving air quality, if you suffer from allergies, be sure to choose carefully. Palms will typically bloom 2-3 times per year. Female palms are considered safe for people with allergies, while male palms produce a lot of pollen and cause allergies.
Not all interior plants are safe for pets or young children. Some house plants are toxic when ingested and can cause serious health problems. However, nearly all houseplants are safe to touch and do not pose health issues. If you have pets or small children, be sure to do your research and choose an indoor plant that is safe for you. For more information on toxic and non-toxic plants, you can visit the ASPCA website.
Most plants are easy to take care of and require very little maintenance. They typically only need to be watered once or twice a week.
Usually, you can find specific care instructions on the plant label, or you can ask an employee at the store. Most nursery workers are highly knowledgeable in the products they sell.
Some indoor plants may need repotting every few years, but generally, potted plants are low-maintenance and easy to care for.
Before you begin watering, you should set yourself up for success. Indoor plants need good drainage. Stagnant water in the bottom of a pot can lead to roots rotting. To avoid this problem, start by choosing a pot with a hole in the bottom. Before adding your plant, put a layer of pebbles in the bottom to aid in drainage.
There are a variety of factors that affect how often plants need watering, such as temperature, humidity, and light. The best way to know when to water your indoor plants is by checking the soil. As a general rule, most plants like for the soil to dry out before watering. Although some plants prefer to have lightly moist soil, make sure that it is not soggy.
Keep in mind that plants need less water in the winter, some only needing to be watered monthly, if not less. Below are some suggestions for watering. Suggested watering times are an approximate time frame.
One thing to consider when choosing a plant is lighting. Some plants thrive with lots of sunlight, and others are fine without much. Snake plants are highly adaptable and can grow in full to low light.
Succulents and Cactuses
Succulents and cactuses are some of the most common house plants, especially for beginners, because they are highly adaptable. Succulents, like most plants, help filter the air, but due to their size, you are not likely to get noticeable benefits. However, succulents are great for desks because of their small size. They do not require much water but make sure they have good drainage and plenty of sunlight. Some of the easiest succulents to care for are Zebra Haworthia, Kalanchoe, Echeveria, aloe, burrow’s tail (sedum), crassula, and snake plants.
Pictures Work Too
Although they won’t help create clean air, a growing body of research suggests that looking at pictures of trees and nature scenes can improve mental health.
A study conducted by VU University in the Netherlands found that viewing natural images lowered stress levels in participants due to activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes rest.
Indoor plants provide several benefits for your health and well-being. They can improve air quality, boost productivity, and reduce stress. Plants are also a great way to promote relaxation and calmness.
When choosing an indoor plant, it’s important to consider your environment and the amount of sunlight you have available.
Not all plants are suitable for every environment, but most plants are easy to take care of and require very little maintenance.