11 Reasons you Need Plants in Your Home ASAP
I can’t imagine anyone thinking “Ugh, plants in my home? No, thanks.” The problem isn’t that we don’t want a green home; it’s the idea of having to take care of them that puts most people off.
Today, I’m set to show you that the benefits of having plants outweigh the cons.
Well, the con. There is really only one problem with plants. They require care.
However, once you’ve read about the incredible qualities of indoor plants, this hurdle will seem trivial!
1. Free therapy
As creatures who originated from the great outdoors, who lived with and against the elements of nature, we are now spending an awful lot of time indoors.
Living in cities has estranged us from nature to a certain extent. Having a home with plants is an excellent way of rebuilding this connection with Mother Nature. We are, after all, intrinsically, biophiles.
We love what the Japanese call ‘shinrin yoku’ ― forest bathing. Being immersed in nature is crucial to our sense of wellbeing but, with cities surrounding us, this connection has become lost.
Having a few plants is a good way of rediscovering this. Witnessing the beautiful cycle of life right at our window, allows us to learn essential lessons from nature.
Cultivating (see what I did there?) a relationship with nature can only help us deal with our own existence in better ways. Understanding our growth, our own withering moments and our ephemerality.
2. Embellishing your home.
Instead of embellishing your home with inanimate objects, try making your home beautiful with plants; unique creatures that brighten up empty spaces and uplift the mood of any apartment.
Whether you want to have your own mini jungle or a simple fern to perk up your desk area; plants are the zen way of decorating living spaces.
3. Getting rid of pollutants
A United Nations development program estimates that over 2 million humans die each year because of polluted indoor air (Brennan and Withgott, 2005).
Shocking, right? So why is our indoor air so polluted?
There are two main types of indoor pollutants; Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC).
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), unvented combustion appliances (e.g. gas stoves), vented appliances with defective installations, welding, tobacco smoke and kerosene heaters are the main causes of NOx.
If you’re thinking “Phew, I don’t have any of these in my home”, you won’t feel quite so at ease when it comes to VOCs.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a group of carbon-based chemicals that can be found in paints, solvents, upholstery fabrics, carpets and adhesives, varnishes, vinyl floors, cleaning chemicals, air fresheners, cosmetics, fuel oil and mothballs.
In short, they’re everywhere.
Some of the most common VOCs are benzene, acetone, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, perchloroethylene, toluene, xylene, and 1,3-butadiene.
So, what’s the solution?
NASA ― yes, the space company ― couldn’t have put it better.
“Since man’s existence on Earth depends upon a life support system involving an intricate relationship with plants and their associated microorganisms, it should be obvious that when he attempts to isolate himself in tightly sealed buildings away from his ecological system, problems will arise…The answer to these problems is obvious. If man is to move into closed environments on Earth or in space, he must take along nature’s life support system.”
Nature’s life support system, a.k.a plants, are great at cleaning our air.
In fact, a study by NASA itself shows that plants could be the solution to alleviating the effects of indoor air pollution to a great extent.
In their study, NASA lists the English Ivy as one of the most air-purifying plants.
The great news about this is that English Ivy couldn’t be easier to grow. It’s even considered an invasive plants as it grows super quickly without requiring much care. You’ll often find it using its beautiful latching roots to get higher towards sunlight.
Not only does English Ivy remove formaldehyde from indoor air, but it is 94% effective in reducing airborne mould.
Another super easy plant to grow is the spider plant.
Those things are pretty much impossible to kill and are, therefore, low maintenance.
They actively remove benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide as well as xylene from the air and are, in my humble opinion, must-haves in all homes.
If you’re looking for other plants to purify your home the natural way, the Barberton Daisy― a pretty plant with dainty flowers ― and the Boston Fern are also great options.
Another dangerous air pollutant is ozone. Now, you might be wondering what the hell ozone is.
Is ozone not that layer we’re desperately trying to protect? It’s not. We’re talking about ground-level ozone.
It is called a “secondary” pollutant because it is produced when the two primary pollutants (NOx and VOCs) react in sunlight and stagnant air.
Ozone is known to have significant effects on human health. Exposure to ozone has been linked to premature mortality and a range of morbidity health end-points such as hospital admissions and asthma symptom days.
In a study called “Effectiveness of Houseplants in Reducing the Indoor Air Pollutant Ozone” ), common indoor houseplants were used to measure their effectiveness at reducing the amount of ozone in a simulated indoor environment.
Putting large concentrations of ozone in one room with plants and another without, they found that the amount of ozone was drastically reduced by the snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata), the spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), and the golden pothos.
4. Fresh produce
Instead of buying produce which is covered in pesticides, planting your own veg and herbs is a great idea.
Some greens can actually be grown in a flat and will look pretty at a well-lit window.
Courgettes, aubergines and herbs are a few of those. Microgreens are super easy to grow too. They are super nutritious, and YouTube abounds with tutorials on how to grow them.
You have no idea how many times I’ve bought packets of herbs from the supermarket, only to use a twig or two and throw the rest away. Having a fresh batch by your window means maximum freshness, no wastage and you know exactly what went into the plant itself.
5. Nurturing your “nurturing self”
For those of us who don’t have children or pets, nurturing something other than our own selves can be a feeling we’ve never encountered before.
Our minds are set to fend for ourselves only.
While we, of course, care for our friends and family, most of them are grown-up adults. They’d probably find it very strange if you started taking a keen interest in how many times a day they eat, drink and poop).
My point is some of us are not responsible for anyone’s survival or growth; except our own.
In my case, this led to putting a lot of pressure on myself.
Continually thinking about how to be healthier, how to have more fun, what goals to set for myself or what places to add to my bucket list are things that can, believe it or not, lead to a severe syndrome of overthinking your life away.
Nurturing a plant to life can take you away from that self-absorbed state, even if it’s for a few moments.
And no, that feeling is not the same as buying a washing machine for your mum. It’s more of a nurturing feeling.
Obviously, taking care of a few plants is not the same as taking care of a child or a pet even, but it’s a wonderful way of detaching from self-importance and nurturing more love towards our outer world.
6. “Cortisol, be gone!”
It has been scientifically proven that plants can help reduce the levels of stress in the human body.
Stress releases cortisol in our bodies and is known as the “stress hormone”.
High levels of it in the body can contribute towards heart disease, hyperglycemia, weakened immune system, adrenal failure, metabolic Issues, fatigue/insomnia, erectile dysfunction/loss of libido.
By naturally reducing your stress, you’ll be eliminating the amount of cortisol in your body.
7. The repotting experience
Repotting my plants is an experience in itself for me; it’s a ritual, it’s one that I try to make all my senses focus on.
I can’t begin to explain how mentally uplifting it is to dig your fingers into the soil. I’m usually that person who gets icky about touching anything and who has to use antibacterial gel every 5 seconds when she’s outside, but dig your fingers in compost one day and tell me it’s not one of the most refreshing, soul uplifting activities.
Much like colouring, repotting your plants doesn’t require a ton of mental effort. Activities like this are prone to making you aware of your more subconscious thoughts; of the streams of consciousness, of the underlying feelings and emotions that might be haunting you without you even being aware of them.
8. The proud mamma syndrome
Caring for a plant, watching it grow and thrive, is often accompanied by the ‘proud mamma’ syndrome. Every new flower from my Meyer lemon tree is a celebration, and I’ll make sure to send What’s App pictures for every spurt of growth.
The first sight of a seed unfurling from the ground into an adorable sprout, the burgeoning of a leaf or the blossoming of a flower are all of rewarding, heart-filled events.
9. Getting more productive at home
If you have an office or a studio at home, embellishing it with plants has scientifically been proven to increase productivity. According to psychologists in this study, offices devoid of pictures, souvenirs or any other ‘distractions’ are “the most toxic space” you can put a human into.
After ten years of research, Dr Chris Knight, from Exeter University, found that productivity could be increased by 15% when introducing greenery into lean workspaces.
So whether you have an at-home office or run your own business, having plants in workspaces can be prone to excellent results.
The 2015 Human Spaces report also found that employees whose offices included natural elements scored 15% higher for creativity than those whose offices didn’t include such elements.
10. Bringing nature’s healing properties home
Some studies have shown that plants accelerate the recovery period of patients in hospitals. So having plants in your very home can only have positive effects on your physical health.
On the other hand, plants and the soil they’re in can harbour bacteria and fungi that could cause hospital-acquired infections which is why plants are usually not allowed in the rooms of transplant patients.
So if you’re visiting someone in the hospital who is very ill or immunocompromised, or who is near other patients who might be, avoid bringing plants or flowers as a get-well gift.
11. Influencing your environment
Another study found that different plant colours can stimulate different emotional reactions. “Dark green coloured plants can be used to make a place more relaxing and calming, while the green-yellow and bright green colored plants can be used to make a place more pleasant and bright…On the other hand, the red plants can be used in a place where high concentration are required.”
There you have it; 11 reasons why plants are your live-in best friends. Obviously, if you’re a newbie to growing plants, lean towards low-maintenance ones; you don’t want to kill your newly sprouting green thumb already. Rome was not built in a day; your green home won’t either. It’s a process. Or to use Anna Wintour’s favourite word, it’s a journey. (If you’re going for an interview with Anna Wintour, it’s actually her least favourite word, so please don’t say that.)
Note: Not all plants are safe for children and pets. Double-check your preferred one is safe to bring home before you make your leafy purchases.