Houseplants are good for your health — and not just for their visual beauty. Why? They essentially do the opposite of what we do when we breathe: release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. This not only freshens up the air, but also eliminates harmful toxins. Extensive research by NASA has revealed that houseplants can remove up to 87 per cent of air toxin in 24 hours. Studies have also proven that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity (by up to 15 percent), reduce stress levels and boost your mood — making them perfect for not just your home but your work space, too.
Studies have also shown that Indoor plants to have positive psychological effects. They also help with indoor air purification, since some species, and the soil-dwelling microbes associated with them, reduce indoor air pollution by absorbing volatile organic compounds including benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. While generally toxic to humans, such pollutants are absorbed by the plant and its soil-dwelling microbes without harm.
At work, place plants, especially those with broad leaves, on your desk; they will help regulate humidity and increase levels of positivity – seeing greenery and nature help us feel more relaxed and calm, which in turn benefits your every day mood. Indoor plants serve a practical and aesthetic purpose, and will enhance your life.
Interesting History of House Plants
Ancient Egyptians and Sumerians grew ornamental and fruiting plants in decorative containers. Ancient Greeks and the Romans cultivated laurel trees in earthenware vessels. In ancient China, potted plants were shown at garden exhibitions over 2,500 years ago. In the middle ages, ornamental gardening was restricted to monasteries.
In 15- 18th Century the Renaissance, plant collectors and affluent merchants from Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium imported plants from Asia Minor and the East Indies.
Plant breeding developed in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Plants were widely cultivated with the researchers and botanists brought over 5,000 species to Europe from their ship expeditions from South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. These innovations were drawn and presented in the botanical gardens and in private court collections. At the beginning of the bourgeois age at the end of the 18th century, flower tables became part of the salons. Furthermore, nurseries were flourishing in the 18th century, which stocked thousands of plants, including citrus, jasmines, mignonette, bays, myrtles, agaves and aloes.
In 19th – early 20th century, Victorian era saw the first use of houseplants by the middle class, which were perceived as a symbol of social status and moral value, and were used on windows, in Wardian cases, trellises and stands. Exotic and hardy foliage plants became popular as they tolerated the typical gloomy and snug environment inside a Victorian house. Popular plants in that era included palms (kentia palms and parlour palms), maidenhair ferns, geraniums, ferns and aspidistras that were often placed on window ledges and in drawing rooms.
At the end of the 19th century, the range already included begonias, orchids, cineraria included begonias, orchids, cineraria, clivia, cyclamen and flamingo flowers, but also leafy ornamental plants such as ferns, silver fir, ornamental asparagus, lilium, snake plant, English Ivy and rubber tree. In the early 20th century, large often floor-to-ceiling windows ensured a seamless transition from the interior to the garden and architectural reforms and the development of new processes for glass production ensured that larger windows were used and thus improved lighting in the living rooms. Senecio angulatus gained popularity following the Boer War in Queensland in the Edwardian era, where it was displayed in garden pillars in Brisbane newspapers in the late 1900s.
In the early 20th century, houseplants became dated due to their cluttered popularity in the Victoria, though the golden pothos, Chinese evergreens, peperomia, obtusifolia, Boston ferns, cactus and ficus elastica had a modest presence throughout the first half of the century, but more so after World War II when houseplants became mainstream again.
From 1950 to present Golden pothos, monsteras, African violets and Swedish ivy gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, when the plant fad returned again after WWII. In the 1960s, there was an introduction of plant care labels. Garden centers became ubiquitous in the 1970s and homes often had foliage-heavy plants in an “indoor jungle” backdrop. Plants were highly fashionable in the 1970s and they included, philodendrons, string of hearts, Boston ferns, umbrella trees, syngoniumstrees, syngoniums, tradescantias (wandering jews), kentia palms, Tahitian brides, spider plants, weeping figs, Ficus lyrata, Ficus elastica, dracaenas, aglaonemas, aluminium plants, and snake plants, which were a common sight in homes in that decade.
In the 1980s, the lush tone started to diminish in living rooms where it was fashionable to have only one or two grand botanical plants, such as a ficus or yucca. Shopping malls, however, still remained decorated with lush plants. In the 1990s, moth orchids became trendy, as well as the Dracaena fragrans and golden pothos, which still remained stylish. The 1990s also brought a wave of interest in artificial plants. In the 2000s, Lucky bamboos became popular and sought for plants.
The mid-late 2010s and 2020s were revivalist decades with fashionable plants from earlier decades being revitalised and popularised by social media .Popular houseplants in these two decades include, peace lilies, prayer plants, ZZ plants, begonias, swiss cheese plants, crotons, peperomias, pileas, air plants, hypoestes, cacti, Boston fern, and many succulent plants (such, as curio or senecios, euphorbiassedums schlumbergeras, hoyas, etc)
Essential Requirements for House Plants?.
Both under-watering and over-watering can be detrimental to a houseplant. Different species of houseplants require different soil moisture levels. Brown crispy tips on a plant’s leaves are a sign that the plant is under-watered. Yellowing leaves can show that the plant is over watered. Most plants cannot withstand their roots sitting in water and will often lead to root rot. Most species of houseplant will tolerate low humidity environments if they’re watered regularly. Different plants require different amounts of light, for different duration.
Houseplants are generally grown in specialized soils called potting compost or potting soil. A good potting compost mixture includes soil conditioners to provide the plant with nutrients, support, adequate drainage, and proper aeration. Most potting composts contain a combination of peat and vermiculite or perlite. Plants require soil minerals, mainly nitrate, phosphate, and potassium. Houseplants do not have a continuous feed of nutrients unless they are fertilised regularly. Phosphorus is essential for flowering or fruiting plants and potassium is essential for strong roots and increased nutrient uptake.
House plants are generally planted in pots that have drainage holes in the bottom of the pot to reduce the likelihood of over watering and standing water. A pot that is too large will cause root disease because of the excess moisture retained in the soil, while a pot that is too small will restrict a plant’s growth. Generally, a plant can stay in the same pot for two or so years. Pots come in a variety of types as well, but usually can be broken down into two groups: porous and non-porous. Porous pots provide better aeration as air passes laterally through the sides of the pot. Non-porous pots such as glazed or plastic pots tend to hold moisture longer and restrict airflow.
Alternative Growing Methods for House Plants
Aside from traditional soil mixtures, media such as expanded clay may be employed in hydroponics, in which the plant is grown in a water and nutrient solution. Methods of soilless growing include growing plants in pots of water, sand, gravel, brick, even styrofoam. This technique has a number of benefits, including an odorless, reusable, and more hygienic media. Any habitat for soil-bound pests is also eliminated, and the plant’s water supply is less variable. However, some plants do not grow well with this technique, and media is often difficult to find in some parts of the world, such as North America, where hydroponics and specifically hydroculture is not as well-known or widespread.
Subirrigation offers another alternative to top-watering techniques. In this approach the plant is watered from the bottom of the pot. Water is transferred up into the potting media (be it soil or others) by capillary action. Advantages of this technique include controlled amounts of water, resulting in lower chances of overwatering if done correctly, no need to drain plants after watering unlike traditional top-water methods, and less compaction of the media due to the pressure put on the media from top-watering.
Main Benefits of Indoor plants
1. Controls Indoor air pollution
Indoor plants reduce components of indoor air pollution, particularly volatile organic compounds (VOC) such as benzene, toluene, and xylene. These VOC’s have been reported to reduce by about 50-75% with the presence of a houseplant. The compounds are removed primarily by soil microorganisms. Some tests of benzene purification by houseplants noticed that plants can makeup and convert benzene, then transform it to a carbon use for future use. Plants can also remove carbon dioxide, which is correlated with lower work performance, from indoor areas. The effect has been investigated by NASA for use in spacecraft. Plants also appear to reduce airborne microbes and increase humidity.
Common plants used to remediate indoor air pollutants include: English ivy (Hedera helix), Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’), Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum), Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), and Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium). There are several studies that cite the plant microcosm as a mechanism to reduce indoor VOCs.
Houseplants also aid in humidity, temperature, and noise control.
2. Reduce Psychological stress
A 2015 study showed that active interaction with houseplants “can reduce psychological stress compared with mental work. A critical review of the experimental literature concluded “The reviewed studies suggest that indoor plants can provide psychological benefits such as stress-reduction and increased pain tolerance. However, they also showed substantial heterogeneity in methods and results. We therefore have strong reservations about general claims that indoor plants cause beneficial psychological changes. It appears that benefits are contingent on features of the context in which the indoor plants are encountered and on characteristics of the people encountering them.
The phenomenon of biophilia explains why houseplants have positive psychological effects. Biophilia describes humans’ subconscious need for a connection with nature. This is why humans are fascinated by natural spectacles such as waves or a fire. It also explains why gardening and spending time outdoors can have healing effects. Having plants in indoor living areas can have positive effects on physiological, psychological and cognitive health.
An indoor garden can be your refuge from the outside world, and for many people it is a source of great joy. Whether you live in a small apartment, or a large house, by introducing certain plants into your home, you will start to notice improvements to your health, and overall happiness. As well as enhancing your mood and creating a living space that is soothing to be in, plants can also help with loneliness and depression: caring for a living thing gives us a purpose and is rewarding — especially when you see that living thing bloom and thrive.
To create your perfect green haven, it’s worthwhile spending a little bit of time researching the plants are best suited for each room and what kind of environment. Here are a few pointers:
Choose the right plants for an optimal night’s sleep.
Although plants release oxygen during the day, it is worth remembering that, at night, when photosynthesis stops, most plants switch things up and release carbon dioxide. However plants such as orchids, succulents, snake plants and bromeliads do the opposite and emit oxygen, making them perfect plants for the bedroom (and getting better sleep).
Beware of too much sun.
Most indoor plants don’t like direct midday sun, so please be wary of this when placing plants in your home. There are very obvious warning signs to look out for, such as leaf burn, spotting or sudden leaf-fall. Most plants can be easily rescued, so don’t panic! Often it is a case of not watering them too much, or letting the soil dry out a bit if it is feeling too soggy. Check if your plant is sitting by a cold draft as this can case the leaves to curl and eventually drop off. Organic fertilizers are a great way to revive your plants.
Plants are inexpensive way to jazz up even the most boring rooms.
Plants are an easy and gorgeous way to style up your living space. Adorn your windowsills with succulents, drape vibrant macramé hangers from curtain rails or try something big and bold like the gorgeous fiddle leaf fig. You can also have fun with the pots, and display your plants in beautiful ceramic and copper containers. Owning plants doesn’t have to be expensive: just take a cutting from a friend’s plant or from your local plant shop, and propagate your plant from scratch.
Some plants like it hot.
Knowing what plants are best for what room is crucial when it comes to plant styling: the bathroom is perfect for air plants and kokedama (Japanese hanging moss ball), as the excess moisture from your daily shower helps those particular plants flourish. If you’re lucky enough to have a sunroom or a super hot room, then fill it with ferns, palms, succulents and cacti as they will love the heat.
If you are new to gardening, here is a selection of plants that will suit you perfectly. All will provide you with lots of greenery, are easy to look after and reasonably priced.
- Monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant): It is fairly inexpensive to buy a 12 inch Monstera and it grows quickly, so you could get some easy height and beautiful leaves in under 3 months.
- Epipremnum aureum (golden pothos or devil’s ivy): This is a great group of plants to get started with as they are relatively low maintenance. The trailing varieties sprout new leaves regularly and are great in a hanging planter such as a macramé hanger. However, they are toxic to cats and dogs.
- Hedera (ivy): Ivy is almost indestructible and has a good telltale sign when it needs watering as the leaves will look limp and soft.
- Chlorophytum comosum (spider plant): These are great low maintenance plants, which need watering from the bottom perhaps once a week and a misting every now and then. They sprout babies regularly, off the end of their leaves, that are easy to propagate; you will be inundated with baby plants, which you can then share with friends and family.
Don’t Have a Green Thumb?. Start with these Plants
- Start with an easy plant such as a cactus or succulent. Many people think succulents and cacti are the same thing, as most cacti are classed as succulents. However, although the majority of cacti are also succulents, there are many other succulent plants that are not cacti. The main difference is that cacti always have bumps called areoles from which hair or spikes grow, whereas other kinds of succulents do not.
- Cacti can surprise you. One of the wonderful things about cacti is that they will tolerate your terrible behavior for years and years, and then they will surprise you with flowers when they get growing again. It is a myth that cacti only flower once in a blue moon: nearly half of all healthy cacti will produce flowers by their third year if cared for correctly. Cacti flower on new growth, which is promoted by caring for them throughout the summer and neglecting them in the winter. Also, flowering is often stimulated when the plant is pot-bound (where the roots completely fill the pot). For people new to keeping house plants, this is a great plant group to get started on, as they only require a light misting of water every so often.
- Succulents are perfect first plants. They’re low maintenance, easy to propagate and suited to most homes. They are best placed on the windowsill where they can get the most sunlight. Identifying a succulent is pretty straightforward, as they have thick, fleshy leaves or stems. Many types are a rosette shape and have tightly packed leaves, which help to conserve water in their natural habitat. You could simply start with an Echeveria and Sempervivum (houseleek) collection as they can provide an interesting group without any other plants and there are lots of varieties to collect.
- Never overwater. Most people kill their houseplants by pouring water down the center of the plant, giving the plant much more water than it needs, and then the water has nowhere to go so it then sits in the plant. Excess stagnant water then causes root rot, which causes the plant to die. Either water from the bottom using a saucer if the plant pot has drainage or mist regularly with an atomizer, which helps to increase the humidity around your plant and keeps your plant happy!