For the Love of Plants
You need a house plant or outdoor garden. No really, you should look into getting a plant! Let me explain.
There’s something about playing in the dirt that’s therapeutic, taking care of a plant and watching it grow. It helps calm that part of me that flits about like a hummingbird. I thought this was just because I love to garden. As it turns out, gardening actually does slow your heartbeat and lower your blood pressure4. Focusing on plant care calms you mentally and physically3. If you’re not already convinced to bring one home, they also help clean the air. They remove pathogenic viruses, bacteria, benzene (used in paints, gas, inks, plastics, and rubber), and formaldehyde2. I’ve included NASA’s list of the best air cleaning plants below, listed with the help of the Nursery Wiki or you can read NASA’s full study. We spend so much time indoors and looking at screens that any link to nature has a positive impact on our mental wellbeing. It’s good for us to have plants. Multiple studies conducted by M Lee show that taking care of plants reduces stress and benefits our overall health.
The one hiccup I’ve found is keeping the plants alive. I love seeing articles about ‘Unkillable House plants’, it’s laughable. I’ve killed plants by overwatering, underwatering, too much light, too little light, pretty much any reason a plant might die I’ve got it covered. I am well aware that not all of us have a green thumb as I am a serial plant murderer. I’ve made many attempts to grow all sorts of plants. Most of the time I’m not very successful but I always buy a different plant when/if I fail. Sure, it’s disappointing to work really hard, just to watch something die. I like to think of plants as forgiving in this way because there’s always another type of plant that might work better for your situation. It’s a wonderful feeling when you finally find that one plant that loves your space. If you struggle to find the one you can keep alive, I would recommend Marmio balls. They are the only plant that seems to flourish even in florescent lighting. Go buy a small dollar store vase and stick one in from the pet store. They do require fresh water when they get low but if you’re looking for fool proof greenery this is your plant! My goal is ‘Set it and forget it’ but with planting. I’ve also had luck with golden pothos, Monstera, string of hearts, aloe, jades, and wandering dudes. It is important to remember that every home and garden is different and can comfortably grow different plants. Don’t give up if you’re not able to work with the first few, just keep trying until you find the one!
Outdoor plants are a bit easier to care for because mother nature helps with some of the work. I model my garden after my grandmothers. She had an expansive garden that only needed to be weeded. Which is great for me because I really enjoy time spent drinking deer, pulling weeds, and listening to murder mysteries on youtube. Every fall my grandma would bring home sad, clearance plants and say “just wait”, only to have a new beautiful plant emerge the next year. In my own garden, I’ve gotten a few plants that flourish: mint, lemon balm and chives. Every year I add a few more in the hopes they will take root and comeback next year. Sometimes I am more determined than the plants. I have planted lavender three years in a row, daffodils and black-eyed Susan’s twice before they finally took. I am still an expert plant killer, the list of these goes on and on but gardening gives us an amazing opportunity to keep trying. There is a plant that will live perfectly in whatever space you have to offer. I hope you think about bringing a plant into your space!
2. Wolverton B.C., Johnson Anne, Bounds Keith (1989, September 15) Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Plants and mental health:
3. Lee M.S., Lee J., Park B.J., Miyazaki, Y, (2015, April 28) Interaction with Indoor Plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in your adults: a cross over study. Journal of physiological anthropology.
4. Lee M, Park B, Miyazaki Y (2013, October 13) Physiological relaxation induced by horticultural activity: transplanting work using flowering plants. Journal of physiological anthropology.