Indoor plants not only look beautiful – they can also strengthen the psyche

Indoor plants not only look beautiful – they can also strengthen the psyche

<span-Klasse=Houseplants can be an indispensable link to nature—especially for those who don’t have access to a garden. Syda Productions/Shutterstock” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0NQ–/ kdDuYXxVqy3WwNtaALrD6g–~B/aD0zMzM7dz00OTY7YXBwaWQ9eXRhY2h5b24-/″ data-src=” Cw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0NQ–/–~B/aD0zMzM7dz00OTY7YXBwaWQ9eXRhY2h5b24-/ “/>

For those of us who don’t have access to outdoor green spaces, houseplants are a stylish and affordable way to find a natural solution. Aside from looking good, houseplants actually have several other benefits – the biggest benefit of which might be improving your mental health. And the good news is, you don’t have to be a self-confessed “plant parent” to experience these benefits, either.

One in eight UK households does not have access to any garden. Young people and members of ethnic minorities are among those least likely to have a garden.

Lack of access to nature can have a number of impacts on our health. It has been linked to symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as other health conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, and poor immune function. Houseplants are an indispensable link to nature for many of us.

Although there is still no solid research on the mental health benefits of indoor plants, numerous studies have shown how beneficial green spaces and gardening are for mental health. For example, one study found that people who garden daily have better well-being and lower stress levels than those who don’t.

Gardening also reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety and increases positive emotions to the same extent as cycling, hiking, and eating out. Many of these results probably apply to houseplants as well.

Quarterlife, a series by The Conversation

Quarterlife, a series by The Conversation

This article is part of Quarter Life, a series about issues affecting us in our twenties and thirties. From the challenges of starting a career and taking care of our sanity, to the excitement of starting a family, adopting a pet, or just making friends as an adult. The articles in this series explore the questions and provide answers as we navigate through this tumultuous period of life.

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A recent review of 42 studies shows that even the mere presence of houseplants can improve mental and physical health. These experiments compared participants doing different activities in rooms with or without plants.

The presence of plants resulted in better performance on cognitive tasks such as focusing, sorting, or recalling memories, greater pain tolerance when holding hands in ice-cold water, and reduced physiological stress. Interestingly, the aesthetic appearance of plants is also important, with separate research showing that people tend to respond more favorably to lush, green plants with rounded and dense leaves.

But most of these studies focus on the mere presence of plants. From research on the benefits of gardening, we can assume that caring for houseplants brings many more emotional benefits – like pride, social connection, contentment, fascination, mental resilience in times of stress, and maybe even helping to heal past trauma .

Good for you

There are many other reasons why owning houseplants is beneficial to you.

Plants can remove pollutants such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide (from nearby traffic), fine particles (from dust), and volatile organic compounds (from air fresheners, cooking, and cleaning). For people who spend most of the day indoors, indoor air quality is of enormous importance.

High levels of carbon dioxide can reduce cognitive performance (such as concentration and memory), while prolonged exposure to other indoor pollutants can cause long-term health problems – from mild eye or throat irritation to respiratory problems and cancer.

But removing an appreciable amount of indoor pollutants would require lots of plants in a very bright room — which is unrealistic for most people. If you still want to try it, you can plant plants with a high proportion of leaves – such as a rubber tree (Ficus elastic) or devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) are your best choice.

A young woman wearing gardening gloves waters her houseplant with a spray bottle.

In theory, plants can also help increase indoor humidity levels. Most of our buildings are too dry. Keeping humidity levels within an optimal range can prevent the spread of viruses, fungal growth, and dry eyes, skin, and nose. Although they depend on other conditions in the room, such as size, light, and airflow, some of the best plants for increasing humidity are English ivy (Hedera helix), Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) and peace lily (Spathiphyllum).

Lifelong learning

You don’t need a green thumb to be successful with houseplants. Gardening is all about learning through trial and error, and even the most experienced gardeners make mistakes. In fact, not all plants will thrive everywhere—and some may struggle with infestations, fail to adapt to light or water conditions, and die. Try not to let this setback get you down. It’s always worth trying again, perhaps with a different species and armed with more botanical knowledge.

Every plant has different needs, so look for plants that suit the conditions in your home. You might even want to find plants that actually thrive on neglect. Some of the best options for beginners are spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), the parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) and anything from the cactus and succulent family, like the zebra cactus (Haworthia) or the jade plant (Crassula ovata).

Growing herbs is a cheap and useful way to get started, even for beginners. There are also apps that can make caring for your plants easier by giving you advice, reminders and a forum to ask questions.

Owning houseplants can have a number of benefits for our health — particularly mental health. It can also be a great hobby that teaches you something new, encourages self-expression – choosing and caring for plants – and gives you a real sense of accomplishment.

This article was republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The conversation

The conversation

Lauriane Suyin Chalmin-Pui is a Postdoctoral Wellbeing Fellow for the Royal Horticultural Society. Lauriane has no connection with the Greg App and declares no conflict of interest.

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