Plant Partners Can Improve the Quality of Life Indoors

Dragon plant (front) and snake plant
The Madagascar dragon tree and snake plant are two common houseplants that are easy to grow and have beneficial values.

Plants are key partners in my home and office. I turn to look at them often as I pause to think or search for the right word or phrase. Seeing them alive and flourishing as my companions gives me a sense of forward movement and buoyancy. Did I mention that green is my favorite color? From my five-foot tall Norfolk Pine to my pair of dragon plants and snake plants, I have a rich variety of greenery in my field of view that truly brightens my outlook and attitude every day.

But houseplants provide more than aesthetic value as partners in our home. Placing and caring for living plants indoors offers an opportunity for benefiting your body, mind, and home environment. In fact, scientific research shows that plants can improve the quality of life indoors. Here are five benefits that sharing your living quarters with plants can provide.

  1. Plants reduce carbon dioxide levels and increase oxygen.
  2. Plants remove pollutants, such as benzene and nitrogen dioxide.
  3. Plants add water to the air.
  4. Plants speed up hospital recovery.
  5. Plants sharpen attentiveness and focus.

Plants reduce carbon dioxide levels and increase oxygen.

You probably remember from science classes that during photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. When you breathe, your body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. The symbiotic use of atmospheric gases makes plants and people natural partners.

Plants add water to the air.

Plants add water to the air and increase indoor ambient humidity. As part of the photosynthetic and respiratory processes, plants release moisture vapor, which increases humidity of the air around them. Plants release roughly 97 percent of the water they take in. Placing several plants together can increase the humidity of a room, which helps to support respiratory health.

Plants remove pollutants, such as benzene and nitrogen dioxide.

wolverton_3
The BioHome at NASA’s Stennis Space Center was 45 feet long, 16 feet wide, and used common indoor house plants as living air purifiers.  Image credit: NASA

Plants emit water vapor into the air in a reciprocal process that draws air to the plant roots. The microbes surrounding plant roots convert volatile chemicals from the air into edible material that plants can digest and use. A NASA researcher, Dr. Bill Wolverton, summarized his findings about using plants to improve indoor air quality in a consumer-education book, How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home or Office, which is frequently referenced by eco-friendly designers.

Plants speed up hospital recovery.

Research conducted at Kansas State University shows that adding plants to hospital rooms speeds up surgical recovery rates (Park, 2002). Dr. Park’s dissertation research found that patients in hospital rooms with plants experienced shorter hospitalizations, fewer intakes of postoperative analgesics, more positive physiological responses, and less pain, anxiety, and fatigue than patients in the control group who had no exposure to indoor plants. Patients with plants also felt more positively about their rooms and evaluated them with higher satisfaction and were released from the hospital sooner.

Plants sharpen attentiveness and focus.

On-going research suggests that installing indoor plants in classrooms and at the workplace provides children and adults with a variety of cognitive, emotional, and physical benefits such as increased ability to concentrate, improved performance, and reduced stress (Faber Taylor & Kuo, 2006).

So it seems there are many benefits from sharing your light, water, air, and physical space with your favorite potted plants.

Coming soon…What plants offer the most benefits to your home and quality of life?


Sources

  • BayerAdvanced: Learning Center, 5 Benefits of Houseplants. ©2017 SBM Life Science Corporation. 1001 Winstead Drive, Suite 500, Cary, NC 27513 Available at: https://www.bayeradvanced.com/articles/5-benefits-of-houseplants
  • Faber Taylor, A.; Kuo, FE. (2006). Is contact with nature important for healthy child development? State of the evidence. In: Spencer, C.; Blades, M., editors. Children and their environments: Learning, using and designing spaces. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, p. 124-140.
  • Good Earth Plant Company, Inc. / Green-Scaped Buildings, (March 27, 2014). Prove It: Plants In The Workplace Show Major Benefits. Available at: http://www.goodearthplants.com/prove-plants-workplace-show-major-benefits/
  • NASA Technology Transfer Program (2007). Plants Clean Air and Water for Indoor Environments. Available at: https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2007/ps_3.html
  • Park, Seong-Hyun. (2002). Randomized Clinical Trials Evaluating Therapeutic Influences of Ornamental Indoor Plants in Hospital Rooms on Health Outcomes of Patients Recovering from Surgery. Department of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources, College of Agriculture, Kansas State University: Dissertation Abstract. Available at:

https://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2097/227/Seong-HyunPark2006.pdf;jsessionid=D11D12540B53122CB2524061CA5419C1?sequence=1

  • Wolverton, B. C. (1997, 1996). How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home or Office. Penguin Books.

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