The environment that we live in is an important factor impacting our health and wellbeing, whether it is the wider environment of our community or in our own home. As our home environment is the one that we have greatest control over, that is a good place to start working on any changes for the better. There are so many ways of doing that from updating soft furnishings to renovation projects, but one of the simplest and most effective is to introduce plants to your living space, so that is what I am going to focus on here. As biophilic interior designer Oliver Heath explains in his book Design a Healthy Home “Houseplants are more than just a trend; multiple studies have shown their positive effects on our wellbeing… Thanks to our evolutionary development, we are hard-wired to feel more comfortable with greenery nearby, and feel a strong association between plants and health.”
As well as promoting a sense of wellbeing and relieving stress, houseplants can help purify the air in our home. Like all plants, they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Plants such as the peace lily, aloe vera and snake plant are particularly good for bedrooms because they release more oxygen at night than during the day. Houseplants can also filter from the air pollutants, such as benzene and formaldehyde, that are released by everyday household products. As well as the plants mentioned above for bedrooms, some others that are effective at removing chemicals from the air are spider plants, Kentia palms, India rubber plants, dumb canes, cast iron plants (Aspidistra), devils’ ivy and jade trees (also known as money plants). You will need about five per room (or fewer large plants) to make a meaningful difference to the air quality.
If you are sceptical about your ability to keep a plant alive, you could try the almost unkillables such as the appropriately named cast iron plant or a snake plant. A wealth of advice on caring for houseplants is out there for you to tap into. A good place to start are the Royal Horticultural Society’s House Plant Book and their Practical Cactus & Succulent Book. Online plant retailers like Patch Plants and Hortology provide helpful information on choosing and caring for houseplants. Nurturing something is a rewarding experience with its own benefits to health and wellbeing, and you may even learn some new skills to boot!
Houseplants can help you tap into your creativity too by making them part of your interior design. You can mix up where you position them: on the floor, on surfaces or hanging from shelves, walls or ceilings. You can mix up or co-ordinate the shapes, sizes, textures, colours and patterns of the plants, their leaves, flowers and containers. All three of the books mentioned above will give you pointers for this.
I hope that you have found something here to inspire you to use plants to create a healthier and happier environment for yourself and for all those who share your home.