When giving you tips on How to Create a greener and waste-free office space, we mentioned, among other things, how having a plant on your desk or in your office, could help create a better environment by purifying the air. Plants in your home, or in general in indoor spaces, are the source of plenty more benefits though. Here are a few:
1. They release oxygen and water
Humans breathe in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide. Plants, do the opposite. During the day, through the process of photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, making them great allies for our overall wellbeing. The more plant around we have during the day, the better for us, but remember, that when photosynthesis stops at night, most plants stop producing oxygen and start releasing carbon dioxide instead. If you plan on keeping a plant in your bedroom be sure to choose among the few selected group of plants (for example orchids, succulents and epiphytic bromeliads) which continue to release oxygen even during the night.
In addition to this, plants also help purify the air by releasing moisture vapor, which increases the humidity of the air around them. With plants letting out roughly 97% of the water they take in, studies show that their presence indoors can decrease the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs. A study by the Agricultural University of Norway, actually proved that sickness rates fell by more than 60% in offices that were decorated with plants.
2. They fight off air pollution
Not only do plants help us breathe, but they also make sure that what we breathe is clean and pure! In the late 1980’s, while conducting extensive research on air quality in sealed environments, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied the benefits of houseplants, and found that several of them were able to filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs include substances such as formaldehyde (which can be found in rugs, furniture, flooring, cigarette smoke and grocery bags), benzene and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents and paint).
The studied specified that “Both plant leaves and roots are utilized in removing trace levels of toxic vapors from inside tightly sealed buildings. Low levels of chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde can be removed from indoor environments by plant leaves alone.”
A more recent study conducted by the American Society of Horticultural Science in 2008, further confirmed the space agency’s findings.
According to researchers, the ideal number of plants per room/home, would be one potted plant per 100 square feet of indoor space.
The top 10 best plants suggested for removing indoor pollutants and keeping us breathing clean air are: Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii), golden pothos (Scindapsus aures), English ivy (Hedera helix), chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium), gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii), mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii'), bamboo palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii), azalea (Rhododendron simsii), red-edge dracaena (Dracaena marginata) and spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum).
3. Plants improve healing and decrease stress
The gift of a plant or a bouquet of flowers may seem so simple and cliché, but it’s actually been proven that plants are in all effects noninvasive, inexpensive, and effective complementary medicine! According to researchers at Kansas State University, who conducted experiments with people who were hospital bound, patients who were staying in rooms with plants request less pain medication, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less fatigue and anxiety, and are released from the hospital sooner, compared to patients staying in a room with no plants. Not only can plants be beneficial by simply being in a room, but as noted by Texas A&M University, plants also bring benefits when patients interact with them. This technique, known as horticulture therapy, consists in patients actively taking care of a specific plant, and has been shown to significantly reduce recovery time in patients that have undergone medical procedures.
You don’t need to be hospitalized though to notice the healing effects of plants, it is a well known fact that an environment full of plants increases our levels of positivity and makes us feel less stressed and more relaxed, actively helping our mental health.
4. They improve concentration
Yes, we’re serious! Having a plant on your desk or in a room while you work actually helps improve concentration, memory and productivity, with a recent study proving that “being under the influence of plants can increase memory retention up to 20%”. Studies on this subject were not only applied to workers, but to students too! A study at The Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England, in fact found that students demonstrate 70% greater attentiveness when they're taught in rooms with plants. Also, they found that attendance levels were higher for lectures given in classrooms with plants. In addition to this, when researching offices and working environments, a Norwegian study found that “Work performed under the natural influence of ornamental plants is normally of higher quality and completed with a much higher accuracy rate than work done in environments devoid of nature.”
Before going shopping crazy and turning your home into a greenhouse do your research.
Where will you keep this plant? Kitchen? Living room? Bedroom? Remember what we said about reversed photosynthesis at night: if you are looking to add plants to your bedroom, choose the right one that will help with the flow of oxygen while you sleep, and avoid plants that will release carbon dioxide instead.
How much maintenance does that plant require? If you’re new to keeping plants, work crazy hours, or know you can be a bit forgetful, pick a plant that doesn’t require a lot of attention. Make sure to plan where in the room you’ll be putting the plant too. Will it be near a window? Will it be in the shade? Plan ahead so that you can purchase the right kind of plant that will thrive in that particular spot, and that will give you clean air for years to come!