Azaleas, Boston ferns, and coleus are house plants that thrive in the bright winter sun in Wyoming. Every table top and bookshelf in my college apartment had a plant sitting on it. I had several coleus and philodendron as they were easily propagated. I loved caring for my plants and I enjoyed sitting next to them while reading. What I didn’t know then was the health benefit of having plants in my living spaces.
According to The Farmer’s Almanac; not only do indoor plants make for beautiful home decor, they may also boost your health and wellbeing. Research suggested that we spend 85% of our lives indoors and houseplants are an easy way to bring nature into your home.
Plants replace carbon dioxide with fresh oxygen. According to a NASA study, houseplants can improve air quality by removing cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene from the air.
A couple of weeks ago as the overnight as temperatures started to drop, I brought the plants on my deck into my house. Living in our bedroom year round, we have a philodendron, a Christmas cactus, a money plant, a snake plant, and a spider plant. I added a hibiscus and a banana plant and my husband commented that he feels like his sleep has improved.
One of the greatest architects of all time, Frank Lloyd Wright, said: “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” He translated this philosophy into structures in harmony with humanity and its environment, something he called “organic architecture.”
Humans are hard wired to respond positively to nature; the crackling sound of burning logs in the fire, the smell of fresh rain on the soil, the color green, and being in proximity to animals.
This principle of organic and nature-inspired design grew slowly into a movement, and biophilic design was born. Biophilic design is a human centric approach to interior and building design that focuses on the human connection to the natural world. Biophilic design comes from an intuitive knowing that we are not separate from nature and when we put ourselves in spaces devoid of nature, we don’t feel well. Biophilic design promotes well-being by incorporating elements that establish a relationship between nature and human biology. This includes using natural materials, greenery, an abundance of natural light, and making room for natural ventilation.
Incorporating elements of nature in our home and work environments have been demonstrated through research to reduce stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, while increasing productivity, creativity, and self reported rates of well-being. Our connection to plants is so strong that sometimes it takes only a few minutes of being in their presence to feel better. In one experiment, participants who spent even five to ten minutes in a room with a few houseplants felt happier.
College students in one study who spent a few minutes repotting and transplanting an indoor plant reported feeling a lot less stressed at the end of the task compared with peers engaged in computer-based activity. Houseplants and nature can help us feel recharged and grounded. In an indoor space, having any type of greens, including photographs of plants have a positive effect on our mood.
The catalysts influencing the adoption of Biophilic design are; the COVID pandemic, climate change, and focus on mental health. Biophilic design or green infrastructure can reduce CO2 emissions, boost the biodiversity of plants, and regulate the temperature of buildings. Sunlight is healthy and Biophilic design emphasizes light and space. Humans are genetically predisposed to be attracted to nature because of a deep, primordial connection.
Collecting and caring for houseplants boomed in popularity during the pandemic, especially among younger adults who don’t have abundant outdoor space. Vibrant communities blossomed on social media, like the #PlantTok corner of TikTok, uniting plant parents and making it easy to swap tips (and mail each other cuttings).
When you grow plants indoors you are connecting to nature no matter what the season and you will reap the positive psychological benefits that come with it. The more plants that we grow, the more oxygen we will have and the more carbon dioxide will be absorbed, combatting the effects of climate change. Nothing can replace the natural living beauty that indoor plants provide.
Kate Emery General is a retired chef/restaurant owner that was born and raised in Casper, Wyoming. Kate loves her grandchildren, knitting and watercolor painting. Kate and her husband , Matt are longtime residents of Cambridge’s West End where they enjoy swimming and bicycling.