Clear Air, Clear Mind

Maybe, like me, you heard that last Tuesday was Take Your Houseplants For A Walk Day. No, I haven’t (so far) headed throught the door with my trusty spider plants…but it got me thinking about the importance of house plants, and how they help wellbeing.

Photo by cottonbro on

Houseplants link us to nature and to the great outdoors. The majority of us have to spend far more time inside than out, so houseplants create a living, focal point in a room. This is obviously even more important for people who rarely or never have opportunities to spend time outdoors in open spaces. Maybe they live in cities, or are ill or housebound. Care home residents can really benefit from the presence of indoor plants in their rooms an/or in communal living areas in the home: drawing nature inside. Cut flowers also brighten rooms, but the difference is that indoor plants go on living and growing. There are so many different types of houseplant, distinct in size, colour, leaf shape, and requirements for warmth, light or water. Growing different plants is a great mental stimulus and might help people living in care homes who may miss gardening or other outdoor work.

Particular houseplants can also have a specific impact, partly dependent on their colour. Colour theory holds that so-called “warm” colours stimulate and boost mood, while “cool” colours can be more calming and restful. So a red flowering plant could enliven a room, while a pale green leafy plant might help create a calmer space.

Caring for indoor plants can be a way to focus on nature’s own needs: regular tasks like watering, or occasional tasks like taking cuttings to propagate a houseplant, growing new ones. I only learned the other day that in their natural habitat, spider plants grow on the forest floor – so they need light and shade, not direct sun. It all opens up different worlds to us.

And houseplants help not only our mood and mental wellbeing, but may also improve physical health. 21st century living exposes us to so many toxins, outdoors but also within our homes and workplaces. Furniture, wall and floor coverings and the ever growing range of gadgets and electrical equipment we all use can all contain xylene, benzene, formaldehyde and ammonia, to name but a few. These may cause us to feel unwell but can even undermine our health without us noticing any issues. Growing houseplants is a great way to clean the air of these mainly air-borne toxins. Research over the last thirty to forty years has proven that plants do cleanse the air and remove these toxins.

I was glad to see that spider plants can be one of the best plants for cleaning the air. Others range from rubber plants to the Boston fern. Some flowering plants can also be helpful, such as chrysanthemums or the Peace Lily.

So houseplants connect us to nature, helping mind and body alike. Maybe you have indoor plants and find they have a positive impact? It would be great if you would like to share any thoughts or experiences – or images! – on Medley’s Facebook group Thank you.

Published by medleyisobel

My name is Isobel and I run Medley, an online initiative sharing art, nature and music for health and wellbeing.

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