When we think about redecorating our home we typically think about new paint and furniture. However, an often-overlooked element that can give your home a fresh new look is plants. We know that being outdoors is good for our mental health and overall wellbeing. We feel better when we are surrounded by nature. Plants are a way to help bring nature inside. Plants can provide a focal point and a living sculpture in an indoor space. Plants add life to a room that could otherwise feel cold and sterile. The container that holds the plant is another way to bring color and texture to a room. Award-winning interior designer, Kathryn J. LeMaster, considers plants to be an essential accessory in styling a room. LeMaster considers a room incomplete without at least one “green soul” as she commonly refers to plants. She encourages her clients who do not think they can keep a plant alive, to give it a try. And if through a little trial and error you are not successful, then a realistic-looking faux plant is better than no plant.
The benefits of plants indoors go well beyond decorating. Research has long shown that plants can lower physiological stress and improve well-being. The long-standing tradition of providing plants to hospital patients is based on the therapeutic value that plants can have. Studies evaluating postoperative patients who had live plants in their room during recovery found lower systolic blood pressure and lower levels of pain than control groups of patients in rooms with no plants. In the workplace, plants can make employees happier and more satisfied. An extensive study of “green offices” (office spaces with plants) in the United Kingdom and Netherlands found that with the addition of plants, employees perceived an improvement in the air quality, ability to concentrate, and overall were more satisfied with their workplace. The researchers concluded that an investment in indoor landscaping could pay for itself in improved productivity. It was estimated that productivity was improved by as much as 15%.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) found that plants are effective for reducing air pollutants. A 1989 NASA study conducted at the Stennis Space Center found a number of plants effective at removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, zylene, and ammonia from the air. The plants found to be the best air filters included: dwarf date palm, Boston fern, spider plant, Chinese evergreen, bamboo palm, weeping fig, devil’s ivy, flamingo lily, lilyturf, broadleaf lady palm, Barberton daisy, cornstalk dracaena, English ivy, variegated snake plant, red-edged dracaena, peace lily, and chrysanthemum. NASA recommended having at least one plant per 100 square feet.
There are many benefits to incorporating plants into our homes. Plants add color and texture, can help lower our stress level and increase our productivity. In addition, plants can be a relaxing hobby and can improve the air quality of our home and office. To help plants thrive indoors, place them near a sunny window so they can receive sunlight. For more information on selection and care of house plants, check out the following MSU Extension Publications which can be found at https://extension.msstate.edu/publications
- Publication Number P1012: Care and Selection of Indoor Plants
- Publication Number P2652: Insect Pests of Houseplants
- Publication Number P3253: How to Design a Closed-System Terrarium
- Publication Number P2309: Holiday Houseplants
- Publication Number P2573: Selecting and Maintaining Poinsettias
LeMaster, K. (2021). The PLANTastic Story of How I became a Full-fledged “Plant Lady”. Retrieved from:https://kathrynjlemaster.com/blog
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (1989). A Study of Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement. Retrieved from: https://ia800300.us.archive.org
Park, S. & Mattson, R. H. (2009). Ornamental Indoor Plants in Hospital Rooms Enhanced Health Outcomes of Patients Recovering from Surgery. Journal of Alternative Medicine (9):951-2. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
University of Exeter (2014). Why Plants in the Office Make Us More Productive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from: www.sciencedaily.com