The quality of our lives is closely tied to the air we breathe, affecting both our physical health and emotional well-being. Amidst the busyness of modern life, the significance of indoor air quality often escapes our attention. Yet, introducing indoor plants goes beyond mere functionality; it provides a practical and natural remedy to enhance our living spaces. Picture a tranquil room adorned with vibrant greenery, a haven where fresh air and visual aesthetics blend seamlessly. This emotional bond with our environment, heightened by the inclusion of indoor plants, lies at the heart of a story delving into the significant influence these botanical companions wield over our overall well-being.
Plants can help increase the humidity level in a room, which is great for your skin and helps offset the drying effects of heating. Humid air can also help with respiratory problems and irritated sinuses. This is why many new tech offices include rainforests and tropical plants in their interior design.
When a plant releases water vapor into the air, it increases humidity. This process is called evapotranspiration, where water from the soil travels through the roots and stems to the leaves and then evaporates into the air. You can increase the humidity of your indoor plants by spraying them with a fine mist of water. Ensure the water is tepid, and avoid salty or acidic solutions. Another way to increase the moisture in the air is by placing plants in a shallow gravel tray. Add the plant to the tray and fill it with a thin layer of water. As the plant absorbs the water, the humidity will increase.
The ferns (Dracaena marginata) and philodendrons (Philodendron scandensis) are great at absorbing airborne chemicals and toxins, especially ammonia (which is found in urine). Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)* is an excellent air purifier, removing volatile organic compounds from the air and improving air quality. Flamingo lily (Anthurium andaeanum) is another good air purifier and thrives in sunny rooms with light to medium soil.
NASA research has shown that plants can remove up to 87% of VOCs every 24 hours, including formaldehyde (found in rugs, wallpaper, and some furniture), trichloroethylene (a chemical commonly used in cleaning agents), and benzene (found in paint, inks, and some plastics). Plants pull the VOCs into their roots and soil, where microorganisms convert them to food for the plant.
Improved Productivity and Focus
Adding plants to your workspace or study area doesn't just make it look nice – it can help you get more work done. Many studies have found that having plants around can make you focus better and be more productive.
Plants make the air better, and your brain works better when you breathe in better air. You become more alert and less tired. Breathing in fresh air is good for your brain and helps you concentrate on what you're doing.
How plants look also plays a big part in making you feel good. Just looking at greenery has been proven to make people less stressed and feel better overall. When you're less stressed, staying focused on your work or studies is easier.
Caring for plants can also give you a sense of responsibility and routine. This feeling of having something to care for has made people happier and more motivated. So, having plants around makes your space look good, helps your brain work better, and keeps you focused on what you need to do.
Reduced Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
While plants have been used as natural air purifiers for a long time, there has only recently been significant interest in how they perform. In particular, one of the most commonly quoted studies regarding indoor plants is a 1989 NASA study that claims that certain plants are very effective at removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals from the air.
However, recent research has thrown some serious doubt into the effectiveness of this claim. For example, a Drexel University study that analyzed 196 experiments from 12 previously published plants-in-the-home studies found that houseplants can reduce CO2 levels and increase relative humidity but cannot significantly impact VOC levels. It would take a disproportionately large number of plants to make any noticeable difference in VOCs.
Some plants are much more effective at absorbing certain VOCs than others. The plant that removed the greatest amount of benzene, toluene, and xylene from the air was the peace lily. Other good choices for removing these harmful chemicals are the spider plant, dracaena, and golden pothos.
These plants are all relatively easy to care for and require little water and sunlight. In addition, many of them can thrive in various conditions and don't require a lot of pruning or trimming.
Companies have even stepped up the game by tweaking the genes of specific plants, such as the pothos, to produce a strain that can essentially recycle certain VOCs and turn them into useful nutrients. In doing so, they can greatly increase the efficiency of this natural air purifier.
Despite the gloomy results of the most recent studies, it's still a good idea to add some indoor plants to your home or office. They act as a natural humidifier, help get rid of stale air, and offer psychological benefits such as stress relief and improved mood. Plus, they look beautiful and make any space feel more comfortable.
Improved Mental Well-being and Stress Reduction
Having plants indoors isn't just about looking nice – it helps your mind feel better and makes stress less of a problem. Many studies have found that when plants are around, people feel happier and less stressed.
Plants are good for mental health because they make your place look calm and natural. The color green, which you find in plants, makes you feel peaceful. Also, caring for plants can make you feel good because it's a nice, easy job that gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Plants do more than look pretty – they also improve the air by giving out oxygen and eliminating bad stuff. When the air is cleaner, your brain works better, and you don't get as tired. Breathing in fresh air improves your mind and helps you think better.
If you're feeling stressed or down, having plants around can help. It's like bringing a bit of nature inside, which can make you feel better. Plants in your home or office can also make you work better and think of more creative ideas.
Having plants indoors is not just about making things look good; it's also a simple way to make your mind feel better and deal with stress.
Increased Oxygen Levels
The plants that you bring inside your home or office produce oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. Just as humans breathe in carbon dioxide and oxygen, plants use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to manufacture glucose (a form of sugar), producing oxygen as a byproduct. This same process that keeps our environment healthy also helps to reduce toxins in the air that can make you sick.
The amount of oxygen indoor plants produce varies depending on the plant species, but many common houseplants are very effective at purifying the air. According to a NASA study, the peace lily, corn plant, and fern arum could remove nitrogen dioxide in a test chamber at levels comparable to an office near a busy road. The results were consistent with several other tests performed by NASA on low-light-requiring houseplants, including gerbera daisies, areca palms, snake plants, golden pathos, and tulsi (holy basil).
Indoor plants are the easiest way to naturally raise the level of oxygen in your home or office. Choosing various plants that require varying amounts of light, from sun to shade, will allow you to create an air-purifying garden.
Plants that are capable of producing oxygen during the night are particularly useful. Kavita Kumari, associate director of the London office of Cundall, recommends snake plants, snake yuccas, money plants, and areca palms for their ability to absorb CO2 and release oxygen at night.
Most indoor plants need bright, indirect light to photosynthesize and produce oxygen. They also need proper humidity to prevent their leaves from drying out and becoming brittle. If you don't have a natural source of humidity in your home or office, consider investing in a humidifier. To keep your indoor plants healthy, it's essential to feed them regularly with a balanced fertilizer. This will help them produce high oxygen levels and keep their leaves and roots healthy. A recent study found that people who interact with nature are calmer and more focused. So, instead of walking in the park, bringing plants into your home or office is just as beneficial for your health and well-being.
Aesthetic and Decorative Advantages
Putting plants inside your place isn't just about improving things–it makes your place look nice. Plants don't just add a touch of nature; they make your place feel inviting and lively.
Plants are like natural decorations that can fit into any style, whether your place is modern, classic, or something in between. They soften the lines of your place and bring in a bit of the outdoors. Plants come in different shapes and sizes, so you can choose what works best for your style.
Not only do plants look good, but they also bring in natural colors, especially if you have flowering plants. These colors can make you feel happy and relaxed. It's like having a splash of nature right inside your home.
You can get creative with plants, too. There are so many types of pots and containers that you can use to show off your plants in a way that suits your style. You can place them strategically to draw attention to specific parts of your place or to highlight certain features.
Having plants indoors isn't just about how they clean the air or make you feel better – they also make your place look amazing. They add a natural and refreshing touch to your home, making it a more visually appealing and enjoyable place.
Overcoming Common Challenges
Having plants indoors is great, but sometimes, common issues make it seem hard. Don't worry; there are easy ways to deal with these challenges and keep your indoor plants happy.
One common worry is that taking care of plants is too hard. The trick is picking plants that match your lifestyle and are easy to care for. Choosing low-maintenance plants and learning about your specific plants' needs can simplify it.
Limited space or not enough natural light is another problem. But there are plenty of plants that do well in small spaces or places with not much light. You can get creative with solutions like hanging planters or using special lights to ensure your plants get what they need.
Giving plants too much or too little water is a common issue. To avoid this, set up a regular watering routine and consider what each plant likes. Using the right soil and pots with drainage holes can also help maintain moisture levels.
Sometimes, pests or diseases can bother your plants. Keep an eye on your plants regularly, ensure good airflow, and use natural methods or eco-friendly sprays to deal with pests without harsh chemicals.
Taking care of indoor plants might seem tricky, but with the right choices and a little attention, you can enjoy the benefits without stress. So, don't let these common challenges hold you back from having happy and healthy indoor plants.
The Bottom Line
It's well-known that plants help keep our outdoor environment healthy by converting carbon dioxide into oxygen through photosynthesis. What's less well known is that plants can also purify the air in our homes, although less effectively than an air purifier.
Many common houseplants are excellent at removing harmful chemicals from the air, including formaldehyde and benzene, found in many household cleaners. They also emit a pleasant fragrance and produce beautiful blooms. Some of the best options include Chinese evergreens (Aglaonema), which can tolerate dim light, rubber plants (Ficus elastica), and the ZZ plant (Zamia trichospita). Another very effective plant is the chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum martini), which helps remove VOCs from the air while producing gorgeous flowers.
Other plants that can be used similarly include aloe vera and ferns. These plants should be kept in medium to low light and regularly watered but not over-watered, which can lead to cosmetic and moisture-related structural problems.
A recent study by NASA researchers showed that plants could effectively remove nitrogen dioxide from the air. This dangerous gas can cause respiratory illnesses and reduce lung function. Plants that reduce nitrogen dioxide in the air include peace lilies, corn plants, and ivy, which can be trailed along a wall or placed in a hanging basket. Other plants that are effective at reducing nitrogen dioxide include the anthurium, which has bright red and pink blooms, and the bird's nest fern, which has beautiful ruffled leaves.