This time of year asks for a little extra nature in our homes.
Our spaces are looking a bit dreary as we sit in between the holiday magic of December and the spring flowers coming in March. The only obvious solution is bringing some punches of life into our spaces through the addition of houseplants. Not only will the lush foliage of indoor plants enliven your home, they also have many healing benefits as well. Studies show again and again they leave our air cleaner and our moods lighter.
Houseplants are the equivalent of a Roomba vacuum…doing all the work in a room as you carry on with your life. While we are living in our spaces, our plants are diligently cleaning the air we breathe. There are many studies that back up the science to this claim, but the research giant who has done the most extensive studies is NASA. They are highly motivated to get to the bottom of the benefits of cohabitation with plants, as they are hoping to use them extensively in space stations.
Houseplants absorb household toxins like formaldehyde and benzene. They also absorb carbon dioxide and increase oxygen through photosynthesis. Besides infusing oxygen into your environment, they also increase the humidity. This increase in humidity was proven in a study from Agricultural University of Norway, to significantly reduce colds, sore throats, dry coughs and dry skin.
Plant experts recommend placing plants in your breathing space, which is about 6-8 feet from where you sit or lie in your home for long periods of time. NASA also recommends 15-18 houseplants for a 1800 square foot home to optimize the benefits of having them in your environment. This number seems overwhelming for a houseplant newbie…so don’t hesitate to start out slow with just a few to spruce up your space.
Not only do these super plants clean your air, they also leave humans calmer, grounded and more focused. It’s no coincidence that high tech companies are incorporating plants and atriums into their new designs.
A study conducted at Kansas State University was so convinced of the plant’s healing properties they recommended them as “noninvasive, inexpensive and effective complementary medicine for surgical patients.” They found that patients viewing plants experienced lower blood pressure, lower ratings of pain, anxiety and fatigue compared to the patients without plants in their rooms. Caring for plants in your home also boosts your mood and overall sense of well being.
There are many lists of must have plants out there….lists of trendy plants, low maintenance plants, low light plants and many more. With all of these notions in mind, we have carefully curated a list of our top five picks. Although a plant may have made it on the trendiest list, they can also prove more finicky and more expensive. Who knew in this world of houseplants that one single plant can sell for thousands of dollars? We also wanted to be sure these plants are all available to you from local sources with delivery and pick-up options.
This is in the Dracaena genus and also known as Mother-In-Law’s Tongue. This plant is an oxygen producing powerhouse and cleans the air better than most other indoor plants as it has the ability to absorb excessive amounts of carbon monoxide. Additionally, it emits oxygen and filters other toxins from the air such as benzene, xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. It was top of the NASA plant list. A bonus for all of you brown thumbs out there, it’s very easy to care for, needing little water and does well in all degrees of sun exposure.
This hearty plant is also known as the Dragon Tree and it’s by far one of the easiest to care for. With its woody stock and spiky leaves, it looks like a palm variety, although it’s less demanding than a Majesty Palm. If you love the look of the Dragon Tree, check out the Ponytail Palm as well. It can take on neglect and will look like the plant in the room that’s having the most fun!
Monstera leaves are trending right now. You’ll see its foliage on wallpaper, napkins and linens. These beautiful, deep green leaves have holes in them, so they are sometimes called the Swiss Cheese Plant. They are happy plants, that generally do well wherever you place them, although they do prefer a sunnier spot.
We all know the Aloe plant has healing properties and can be used for skin irritations and burns. It also made the NASA list for being a super air cleaner. Aloe plants are easy keepers but prefer the sunlight. Also, be sure to let them thoroughly dry out before you water again. Most problems arise from overwatering.
Fiddle Leaf Fig
This tree is not going to make the “easy” list but it definitely is at the top of the trendy list. This tree’s visual impact is unmatched as it stands tall and fans out beautiful “fiddle” shaped, glossy green leaves. It does require an area with lots of sun, no drafts and needs to be watered regularly. Once it has found a happy spot, it doesn’t like to be moved…so be sure to try and place it strategically once you bring it home.
We took a field trip recently to check out local houseplant offerings. The big box stores like Home Depot and IKEA have a large selection of all sizes of plants right now that are very affordable. Al’s Garden Center, which has 4 locations located throughout the Portland Metro area, has a varied indoor houseplant selection and they frequently run specials. They also offer a beautiful assortment of pots and indoor gardening supplies.
Pistils Nursery is a longtime Portland favorite that really is more than a nursery, it’s an experience. It’s run by folks who are passionate about plants. They have online classes, an informative website and offer expert advice.
Pistils Nursery states on their website, “We believe plants are transformative.” We couldn’t agree more and now is certainly the best time to invest in our spaces and enliven them with houseplants. The experts all agree…adding houseplants to your space will improve the atmosphere and the cheer in any room they grace.
NASA recommends 15-18 houseplants for a 1800 square foot home to receive the optimum benefits.