getting green with greenery
So what’s the big deal with houseplants? Yes, they may add personality and organic flare to your living space, but they also come with a whole slew of green benefits. In fact, NASA scientists recommend that you have one houseplant for every 100 square feet in your house. Here’s why . . .
Most people spend the majority of their day inside. Unfortunately energy-saving architecture and insulation both reduce air exchange; that means we spend most of the day breathing out CO2 and breathing in the same air over and over again. This may not sound like the biggest tragedy in the world, but every modern home has volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in the air, which are found in paints, aerosol sprays, cleaning products, air fresheners, new carpet, glue, and lots of other things in your house. Breathing in high levels of VOCs and CO2 during the day can cause allergies, headaches, fatigue, loss of concentration, and many other side effects (check out this article for more on indoor air pollution).
The good news: plants are one of the easiest and most effective antidotes for VOCs and cigarette smoke. In fact, a study from NASA found that common houseplants can remove up to 87% of air toxins in 24 hours and eliminate toxic emissions like ammonia, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, benzene, xylene, and trichloroethytene. Ficus, Dracaena, Pothos, Philodendron, the Peace Lily, and Spider Plant are all NASA-recommended plants for filtering the air in your home.
Unbalanced humidity in your house is another common problem with unpleasant side effects. When humidity levels are too low, you are more likely to develop viral infections and dry skin, but plants actually release moisture into the air through a process known as transpiration. Basically they sweat from their pores just like we do—except their sweat makes a room smell fresher.
Did you know that houseplants actually fight fatigue and colds? The University of Agriculture in Norway found that indoor plants can reduce fatigue, coughs, sore throats, and other cold-related illnesses by more than 30% by increasing humidity and decreasing dust. Eucalyptus in particular is known for clearing congestion. And other studies show that plants decrease blood pressure by lowering our stress levels and can naturally prevent allergies if we’re exposed to them early in life. The list goes on and on.
Even more benefits
Aside from purifying the air, indoor plants do all kinds of other things too:
- Increase positive feelings and reduce feelings of anxiety, anger, and sadness
- Reduce stress levels
- Improve concentration levels (in various studies between 10%-15% increase)
- Promote healing (studies have shown that hospital patients who face a window with a garden view recover more quickly than those who just look at a wall)
- Speed up recovery from mental tiredness
- Improve sleep quality
- Make house interiors seem more expensive, spacious, and clean
Photo by robin.elaine