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The Humble Houseplant: Not Just a Pretty Face

Posted by Andrew Wallace on

Houseplants can certainly add a splash of colour and style to your home – but there are many more reasons to make them part of your living environment. There’s now some pretty serious science to support the fact that indoor plants are good for your health and wellbeing, whether it’s by boosting your concentration, or helping you sleep.

Seven good reasons to make your home a greener place.

  1. Breathe easy. Everyone knows plants absorb carbon dioxide, but did you know they can actually remove up to 87% of air toxins in just 24 hours? Not just a wild claim either – it’s backed by a NASA research study. The same study showed that by increasing humidity levels and decreasing dust and other pollutants, indoor plants can also help reduce breathing related conditions.

  2. Feel brighter. Recent research by Nursery and Garden Industry Australia (NGIA) has revealed that more than half of office employees don’t think their workspaces have enough greenery, and that they feel much more positive with plants around. One in three workers even say they have more energy with plants around. Bosses, it’s time to hit the nursery.

  3. Sharpen up. Yep, it’s been proven that plants actually help us concentrate. This was discovered by a study at The Royal College of Agriculture in England, which found that students had 70% better attentiveness when they learnt in a room with plants. The benefits didn’t just stop there either – the same study showed the students were more likely to turn up to class if plants were in the room too. Turns out that truancy is no match for maidenhair ferns.

  4. Be healed. If you or someone you know has recently undergone surgery, plants could be just the medicine you need. A study conducted by the Kansas State University showed that viewing plants during recovery led to notable improvement in physiologic responses. People with plants in their rooms experienced lower systolic blood pressure, and lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue compared to patients without.

  5. Spark ideas. Hit a creative roadblock? Invest in a pot plant with flowers. During an eight-month study in Texas, it was found that plants and flowers in the workplace helped to improve idea generation, creative performance and problem solving. Men generated 15 per cent more ideas, while women came up with more creative solutions to problems.

  6. Dream sweet. We’ve all struggled with sleep before but have you ever thought to ditch those groggy sleeping pills in favour of pot plants? A study by the Wheeling Jesuit University has proven the power of Jasmine as a natural sleeping aid, and discovered it also helps with quality of sleep, decreased anxiety and a better mood when you wake. Other varieties believed to bring on deep sleep are lavender, aloe vera, English ivy and the snake plant.

  7. Get fragrant. Forget chemical air fresheners. Why not go natural and use fragrant plants to perfume your home instead? Here are some scented plants suggestions for you: kaffir lime tree (also handy to cook with), jasmine (as above doubles as a sleeping aid too), gardenia, eucalyptus (if you want to keep it native) and tea rose begonia.

    So, now that you’re sold on the power of indoor plants, which ones do you choose?

    When browsing at the nursery, consider what you want your plants to achieve, the conditions they’ll be living in and how much space you have to play with. The most important thing to think about is your lighting – but if you’ve got a low-lit space, don’t despair. Plants like the peace lily, parlour palm, kentia palm, maidenhair fern, spider plants and some succulents can still thrive even without much sun.

    Good luck and happy decorating!


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