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  • Laura Felder, UCTech

A Few Benefits of Indoor Plants

In recent years, indoor gardening has become increasingly popular with interior designers and florists on social media. Indoor plants have been shown to have positive health and mental effects on people who spend time around them. Many people enjoy living and working in “cultivated greenspaces” and being surrounded by beautiful plants. Also, greenery has silent benefits, such as lowering stress, improving air quality, and increasing productivity, so the apparent trend of indoor gardening is not only simple and affordable, but also healthy.

Indoor plants have been shown to be therapeutic and lower stress levels. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that having plants in one’s home may make an individual feel more relaxed. In the study, participants repotted a houseplant and completed a computer task. The indoor gardening task lowered the individuals’ stress responses, as well as lowered their respective diastolic blood pressures, the pressure in an individual’s arteries when the heart rests between beats. In contrast, although the participants were accustomed to computerized work, the computer task caused an increase in heart rate.

As it relates to therapy, research completed in Kansas State University in 2008 demonstrated the positive effects flowering plants had on patients recovering from abdominal surgery. When the patients endured more stress prior to surgery, they experienced more severe pain and took longer recovery periods. The researchers discovered that

“Patients with plants in their rooms had significantly fewer intakes of pain medication, more positive physiological responses (lower blood pressure and heart rate), less pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and better overall positive and higher satisfaction with their recovery rooms than their counterparts in the control group without plants in their rooms.”

This important discovery is not limited to hospital patients because, as stated previously, higher stress levels frequently result in slower recoveries, so adding a few plants to a room may have a greater effect on one’s emotions than expected.

In addition, indoor plants have been shown to boost one’s productivity and creativity. A 1996 study, published by the Journal of Environmental Horticulture, found that students in a windowless campus computer lab worked twelve percent faster and were less stressed when the plants were nearby. The researchers concluded that “Having more plants in view … were attended by lower stress (although not significantly so), less sick leave, and more productivity when controlling for gender, age, and other workplace factors.” In a 2004 study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, researchers challenged undergraduate students to make creative word associations in a room with one of three arrangements. Again, they performed better when plants were in the room with them.

Lastly, indoor plants are a simple and inexpensive way to decorate homes and improve an area’s air quality. They can be placed in various different areas of a home and add other spots of color, not limited to green, to the room. Indoor plants assist in ridding the air of common toxins and indoor pollutants, such as formaldehyde and benzene, which are compounds that can cause cancer. A NASA study from 1973 found that the bromeliad plant, a member of a family of flowering plants, removed more than eighty percent of six volatile organic compounds out of eight studied in twelve hours. The dracaena plant, a type of succulent plant, removed ninety-four percent of acetone, a compound that can irritate one’s throat, lungs and eyes if inhaled in moderate to high amounts. As described by Gary Altman, associate director of the Horticultural Therapy Program at Rutgers University, “The air purification ability of plants depends on factors such as size of the plant, size of the indoor space, and amount of toxins in the air, but 6 to 8 medium to large plants throughout a large room should be enough to make a noticeable difference in the air quality.” To maximize the plants’ purification ability, one should keep their leaves clean and make sure the plants are receiving the necessary amount of sunlight.

In essence, various studies have demonstrated the multitude of benefits of indoor plants in hospitals, workplaces, and homes. Contrary to popular belief, a green thumb is not entirely necessary to cultivate a couple of plants. There are a variety of plants, such as the jade plant, that can retain water in their leaves for extended periods of time. While there are other methods for calming and relaxing oneself and for improving air quality, it would certainly behoove one to get a couple of plants as a simple and affordable method of accomplishing both.

Works Cited:

Are Houseplants Healthy or Harmful? Are houseplants healthy or harmful?

Lee, S. (2017, July 13). Why Indoor Plants Make You Feel Better.

McQuillan, S. (2019, September 14). 11 Ways Plants Enhance Your Mental and Emotional Health. Psychology Today.

NASA. (2007). Plants Clean Air and Water for Indoor Environments. NASA.

Picard, C., Springen, K., & Valeris, M. (2020, November 20). 25 Gorgeous Indoor Plants That Are Almost Impossible to Kill.

Pirie, K. (2019, July 18). 8 Healthy Benefits of Indoor Plants, According to Horticulture Experts. Prevention.

Weatherspoon, D. (2020, September 18). A Hobby for All Seasons: 7 Science-Backed Benefits of Indoor Plants. Healthline.

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