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Air purification, demystified
Improve interior spaces
Helps reduce anxiety
Make sense of purpose
How to reap the benefits
Owning indoor plants has many benefits: they reduce stress, add color to your space, and can even improve productivity. However, perhaps one of the biggest claims people make about the benefits of owning indoor plants is that they purify the air in your home. The only problem with this theory? Recent studies have proven that it is not exactly true.
But that doesn’t mean you should ditch the idea of keeping indoor plants altogether, because greenery still makes your home a nicer space than it would be without any plants. Not only do they add verdant color and personality to your abode, they actually improve your overall quality of life.
Related: 24 beautiful houseplants perfect for apartment living
Why Houseplants Don’t Purify the Air
The idea that houseplants purify the air came from a 1989 study conducted by NASA and the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Research indicates that low-light plants have surprising potential for improving indoor air quality because they help eliminate the buildup of pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichlorethylene. NASA research has since served as the basis for many follow-up studies on the air-purifying benefits of houseplants.
However, a 2019 study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology states that previous research is unreliable because scientists tested the toxin-scavenging abilities of houseplants in the lab. By testing this in a home environment, the researchers found that it would take about 10 plants per square foot (essentially, an indoor forest) to make a noticeable difference when it comes to cleaning the air in a home.
Indoor plants enhance indoor spaces
However, indoor plants absolutely benefit your home. While you can opt for a blanket or rug to make rooms cozier, a 2019 study published by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute found that plants can also make indoor spaces cozier. Results from 50 studies reviewed noted that rooms with plants were perceived as more comfortable than rooms without them, leading to better self-reported quality of life among participants.
“Indoor plants add a bit of nature to any space. Their texture, color, and shape add to the look, feel, and mood of the room,” says the gardening expert. gardening Melinda Myers. “Plants, like artwork and other decorations, can reflect our personality.”
Indoor plants reduce anxiety
The researchers also found that houseplants reduced negative emotions in participants, including feelings of anxiety, pressure, and fatigue. “Taking a mindful approach to houseplant care can help reduce stress and promote emotional well-being,” says Andrew Bertagnolli, Ph.D., clinical psychologist at One Medical. “This means [being] fully present as you tend to the plant, noticing new growth and blooming buds, and taking time to appreciate the hard work you’ve done.”
Even if you’ve had a problem with your plant — maybe the leaves are turning yellow or you have a pest problem — you can still reap the emotional benefits of owning a houseplant. “Put on a detective cap and try to figure out what can contribute to the factory’s struggle, rather than blaming and criticizing yourself, can help maintain a positive attitude,” Bertagnolli says.
Indoor plants improve concentration
Have you been looking for a natural way to improve your focus? According to the results of the study, houseplants can also do this. Participants reported greater focus, productivity, and academic performance in indoor spaces with plants. “When we take care of the needs of our houseplants, we focus on the here and now,” says Monica Vermani, C.Psych., clinical psychologist. “We get out of our heads and reconnect with our senses.”
Indoor plants give meaning to action
Caring for something or someone beyond ourselves, whether it’s a houseplant, a pet or a loved one, is a proven way to improve our mental health. “When we are able to reach beyond ourselves, when we are motivated to care for something that depends on us for its well-being, we garner a sense of purpose, an interest in striving for be a better person,” Vermani says.
Plus, owning houseplants brings an influx of new knowledge — you need to know when to water them, what kind of soil they need, and how to repot them. Mastering these methods can also improve one’s sense of purpose. “Caring for houseplants often involves having specialist knowledge and experience, which again can be a source of pride and purpose and can be shared by others,” says Bertagnolli.
How to Reap the Benefits of Indoor Plants
Although you need hundreds of houseplants to purify the air in your home, it actually takes very little greenery to improve your emotional well-being. According to the study, even a single small flowerpot was conducive to better mental health.
The study also found that it doesn’t take long to reap the beneficial effects of indoor plants: the time of exposure to greenery required for positive perceptions was less than 20 minutes. “Therefore, using houseplants to increase positive psychological perceptions of occupants is a highly feasible, feasible, and efficient means that does not cost a lot of energy and money,” the research says.