Benefits of Houseplants

Have you ever wanted to grow some fresh food but simply don’t have the yard space for a garden? Or how about searching for home decorations, and can’t seem to find the right wall hanging? Personally, I’ve fought with both of these scenarios before and have found a simple solution – house plants! Growing greenery inside can be beneficial to your health, mentality, and add to the overall aesthetic wherever you call home.

With growing up in the rural Midwest, I have been surrounded by plants my entire life. Whether from nearby corn fields, wildflowers in pastures, or hanging air plants in my living room, photosynthesizing organisms have always been present in my day-to-day activities. However, this all changed when I moved to a college city to pursue higher education. I had never lived in such a restricted area before and was searching for ways to make it feel less bleak. After consulting some lists recommending the best house plants, I decided to start my plant collection off with one that required minimal watering and management.

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Undoubtedly the best roommate I’ve ever had is this little cactus. If I stay up late working on coursework, it never complains about the light always being on. If I am gone for a week or two, it won’t fuss about being lonely or stuck in a small room. And to top it all off, if I forget to water it for a few weeks it has yet to show signs of neglect! Its tiny size means it can easily fit into a windowsill and not take up any more valuable space. Additionally, succulents have an unspoken beauty that many have come to respect and admire.

Why is there such a hype around growing plants in your living space?  

Plants Can Purify the Air.

Have you heard of the term ‘phytoremediation’ before? This process is how certain plant species are able to clean the surrounding environment by filtering out harmful contaminants. Simply put, this means some plants can purify the air surrounding it. On large scale remediation operations, plants can be chosen by which contaminant they excel at removing. An interesting example of this is cabbage grown near a zinc smelter, with the sole purpose of reducing the lead concentration in the local environment. House plants can work in similar ways but on a much smaller scale. It’s also important to remember that even though some plants have these cleansing properties, you would need an excessive amount to completely clean the air. Some effective species are the Peace Lily, Spider Plant, English Ivy, Golden Pothos, and Gerbera Daisy. These are all beautiful plants that can thrive inside a house as long as they’re near a window and receive adequate watering!

Another interesting benefit is that houseplants can increase the humidity in your house or apartment! This means that plants can act as a humidifier (of sorts), as they release more than 90% of the water they take up through their roots into the air. This increase in moisture can be extremely helpful during the winter months, which could help combat your dry skin, common colds, or respiratory diseases.

Plants Can Improve Concentration & Memory.

Believe it or not, there are studies showing that being near plants can improve one’s concentration both at home and while in the workplace. In fact, it’s been proven that interacting with nature, whether it be in the form of a picture or actually walking through a park, can boost memory retention up to 20%. When considering which plants to choose, ornamentals are always a great option. They’re known for having eye-catching colors and designs, without the negative impacts of becoming distracted. When plants have a calming influence on your brain, it could improve your life in many cognitive aspects. With possible benefits like this, who wouldn’t want to keep a houseplant by them at all times?

Plants Can Provide Healthy Food.

A lot of herbs and leafy greens can be grown in the convenience of your own home and can be placed anywhere from a narrow windowsill to a table near a window. I’ve seen a lot of cilantro, basil, rosemary, and lettuce grown inside. Some people even have small citrus trees (mandarins, lemons, kumquats) or pepper plants in their kitchen or spare room. These types of plants require more maintenance than some of the other plants I’ve mentioned. Herbs, fruits, or anything you plan to eat will generally require much more water and some additional fertilization as well.

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Here’s a great example of some herbs being grown indoors on a window sill! Photo from gardeners.com

And here’s a few general reminders of what to do or not do with indoor plants!

  1. Always use a pot with drainage holes in the bottom! And to avoid any water harm to your home’s surfaces, just add a tray underneath the pot to catch any excess water.
  2. Do your research on the individual plant. This can include how often it should be watered, what soil mix to plant it in, and which direction the window should be facing to receive the most beneficial type of sunlight.
  3. The quality of water you use is also important. A good rule of thumb is to avoid repetitive use of softened water, with the hopes of avoiding a sodium buildup in the soil.
  4. Take into account your temperature! Most plants will do fine in room temperature areas, but be sure to note temperature fluxes near windows, doors, and during varying seasons.

I hope this helped open your eyes to not only some of the benefits of growing plants in your home but also the feasibility and ease of doing so!

-Rosie

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