Gardening: Five ways in which indoor plants can help to boost wellbeing
BEYOND aesthetics, there's evidence that houseplants are also good for your health and wellbeing. Here are five ways they can benefit you:
1. They can reduce 'sick building syndrome': Houseplants can help reduce the impact of 'sick building syndrome' which includes dry skin, itchy eyes, respiratory irritations and headaches. They help moisturise the skin and alleviate dry eyes by increasing relative humidity inside the home or office. This happens via plants increasing air humidity levels through evapo-transpiration. Varieties such as peace lilies and ivy rates appear to be best.
2. Some plants trap chemical gases: Cooking, especially frying, can create a range of potentially harmful gaseous and volatile chemical compounds. Plants can capture these in three ways: via small pores in their leaves called the stomata, by diffusion through plant cuticle on the leaf surface and via the activity of soil micro-organisms. Varieties of dracaena (a small shrub), ficus (figs), nephrolepis (ferns) and syngonium (vines) work best.
3. They do the dusting for you (well, almost): Houseplants capture little airborne particles that would otherwise be breathed in, simply by providing additional surface area on which particles can be captured. Plants with large canopies like Ficus Arabica or Ficus Benjamina with huge numbers of smaller leaves provide a good surface.
4. Plants can help increase productivity: The exact mechanisms are not known but can be partially explained through the so called 'attention restoration theory'. There is a suggestion that a variation in plant shape, size and colour within planting schemes elicits positive responses. Therefore a mix of plant species in a room, some flowering and some leafy, is likely to have a positive effect.
5. They boost your mental health: We all know the joy a garden can bring, and filling the home with plants is similar – greenery is pretty, and tending for houseplants can give a sense of purpose and reward too. Try pretty succulents or orchids to bring some flower power to your collection. Alternatively go for some large ferns for drama and impact. Additionally, groupings of plants often grow better as humidity tends to naturally increase around them, reducing stress on the plants as well as you.