Growing up, I can always remember both sets of my Grandparents having a bountiful collection of houseplants – ranging from a menagerie of Cacti to blooming Kalanchoe. It’s taken me a long while to fully appreciate the many benefits of having a house full of plants (having strongly been apposed to Peter’s Spider Plant a few years back) but since I’ve taken on the role as adoptive mother to a fair few, I’d never look back, and here’s why.
Aside from the obvious aesthetic points to keeping a rose or an orchid, caring and nurturing for a little plant can provide real therapeutic benefits. It not only gives you a chance to step away from your busy schedule and to focus on dead-heading, watering and maintaining a healthy plant but if taken seriously and mindfully, the act of caring for your green friend can take the form of meditation. They’re a fantastic aid in helping us to step outside of ourselves and to be lost in another living thing without the stress and worry. In an increasingly desk-bound society, having and strengthening our connection to nature is so important for our well-being and by bringing a little bit of it indoors, we’re instilling calmness in the room and providing a sense of life.
“A passionate look, touch or a hug on a plant is enough to open your inner eyes than going for a serious yoga and other therapies”
― Karthikeyan V
Now.. don’t laugh, but I have been heard, on occasion, to whisper to my little plants… mainly my Aloe Vera, who require a lot of repotting as they do insist on multiplying! I nearly always whisper to it, ‘please be ok and please don’t die!’. But the beautiful plant below, is extra special to me because it was given to me when it was a pup (seriously, young ones are called pups!) by my Nana, who when she asked if I wanted it said, ‘Vicky, I don’t suppose you know what an Aloe Vera is, but you can have this one’ – I’ll never forget this as it made me laugh so much! I’ve cherished this plant ever since, having kept it now for at least 10 or so years.
And in fact, research suggests (although it is mixed) that houseplants improve memory and even boost our attention, especially when present in an office environment. There is in fact a theory (Attention Restoration Theory) which argues that natural settings (such as those with abundant foliage) can help to restore our directed attention required for work, i.e. staring at that computer screen.
But the benefits don’t stop there, NASA has also carried out research into the ability of houseplants to clean and detoxify our air. In particular, palms (such as the one below – Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) are especially effective at filtering and taking toxins from the air (i.e. those originating from paints, books, carpets etc.) and help to neutralise the effects of sick building syndrome. The research suggest that to reap the benefits of plants in relation to air cleaning, we should seek to have at least one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space. So for our flat, which is around the 600 sq ft mark (2 bed flat), we should have at least 6 plants (this post has a helpful list of air purifying plants).
As well as helping to purify our air, having certain types of plants in our bedroom at night (such as Aloe Vera), will help to replenish oxygen levels as unlike most plants at night, they continue to release oxygen. Furthermore, the act of keeping our green friends watered helps to increase humidity levels within our home as water leaves the plant and into the air through the process of transpiration. This, research suggests, helps to decrease our chance of getting dry skin, dry coughs, and also helps fight off colds.
If this has made you want to get green but relatively clean fingers in the home, here are three easy steps on where to start:
- Add a little bit of greenery into your living room whilst also helping to purify the air with an Areca Palm. These are relatively low maintenance and are perfect for a shady spot. We grabbed ours from Ikea for £19!
- Why not try a cactus plant? I’ve had mine now for at least 15 years or so and absolutely love them – they always surprise me with their delicate flowers and are rumoured also to help absorb negative energy from a room… or so they say! I particuarly love Christmas Cacti.
- An easy addition of nature through an Aloe vera plant in your bedroom will not only look pretty, but can help sooth burns and replenish oxygen levels at night – it’s a win win win!
I’d love to know if this post has inspired you to grow your houseplant collection and what type of plants you loved to fill your home with! Let me know below.