Humans have been bringing plants inside for thousands of years. Babylonian residents were among the first humans to “domesticate” house plants and grow them inside. Evidence of indoor plants was found in the ruins of Pompeii. Our ancestors felt the benefits from having plants in their enclosed spaces. The improved air quality and fragrance must have been a welcome addition to the ancient dwellings. Indoor plants and flowers became a signal of wealth especially before the advent of glass windows. Sadly, many homes before the 1800’s were too dark for plants to grow.
Regardless of what millennia we are in, your social status or your wealth, indoor plants have the same incredible benefits. Today, NASA scientists have quantified the numerous benefits of indoor plants. One plant every 100 square feet is enough to purify the air, about 1 plant per room, for your whole home to reap the natural advantages house plants provide.
We are spending 80% to 90% of our time inside. That’s a lot of recycled air to breath. Over two million people die every year due to indoor air pollution. Indoor plants have been proven to reduce indoor pollutants. They filter out harmful chemicals from cleaning products and dry cleaning. Plants can remove up to 87% of volatile organic compounds every 24 hours. They can also filter out your office-mates’ sickness. Potted plants take our dirty air, clean it and send it back to us. Humans and plants were meant to be inside together.
Breathing in harmful indoor air pollution is often a contributor to workplace headaches. The visual stimulation and break from staring at the screen improves one’s mood thereby reducing headaches. The presence of plants has been shown to reduce pain and facilitate healing. Furthermore, the oxygen produced greatly reduces headaches and migraines.
Humans inherently crave nature whether we are conscious of it or not. Our need to experience nature has been called biophilia. Bio comes from the Greek for life and philia means a deep fondness. A phobia suggests an aversion to something while philia suggests the opposite. Satisfying our craving for nature with a simple house plant can greatly improve our mood. Nurturing and caring for the plant further improves one’s connection with nature, thereby making one even happier.
Reduction of absenteeism in the workplace
A study in Norway found that offices with indoor plants had less people call in sick. The results were small but significant. This increases work productivity and saves the company money. Another study found that workers in offices with living plants had a decrease in complaints ranging from coughing to tiredness. There is a positive link between healing from illnesses and living plants.
Improved mental health
Among the leading health problems of Western society today are mental health issues. Industrialization disconnects us from our natural surroundings. Spending up to 90% of the day inside doesn’t help the feeling of being detached from our surroundings. Our separation from the living world is enough to make anyone depressed or anxious. The nurturing of a plant can substitute our need to be in nature. People have reported improved mental health when indoor plants or windows with views of nature are present.
Indoor landscaping is visually pleasing. It makes the indoor space feel cleaner and the interior perceived as more expensive. Plants have a greater attention holding power over man-made objects such as an antique desk. Rooms with plants seem more refreshing, pleasant and appealing. A desk with a nice succulent is inviting even when in disarray.
Indoor office plants create a sharper focus by relaxing workers while they recover from mental fatigue. Carbon dioxide and recycled air tend to make us sleepy while oxygen vitalizes us. Classroom studies showed that students were more attentive by as much as 70% when taught in classrooms with plants. The same study also had improved attendance in classrooms with living plants.
Besides the clean air, mental health benefits, and oxygen producing qualities, plants provide other health resources. Plants breathe out 97% of the water they absorb. The extra humidity can greatly reduce dryness in skin. A natural humidifier, a six foot areca palm will put a quart of water into the room a day. Aloe is an easy to grow houseplant that has skin healing properties. It does double duty for your skin. The humidity produced by plants has been shown to reduce coughs, colds and sore thoughts by up to 30%. We might not notice an absence of greenery, but it is thought that our subconscious senses this and perceives it as a stress factor. Many diseases are linked to stress such as anxiety disorders and cardiovascular disease. A brief exposure to a living plant can greatly reduce stress.