Plants and flowers are gorgeous and can be a great way to add a touch of nature to a room. However, they’re more than just a pretty decoration. There is extensive scientific evidence that proves being around plants and flowers improves mental well-being in a range of different ways.
House plants and cut flowers boost well-being in many areas. From lowered stress to heightened innovation, it’s truly incredible what a little foliage around the place can do for your mind.
In this post, we’ll explore seven of the impressive benefits that plants and flowers have on mental well-being.
Plants are calming
A Japanese study released earlier this year suggests keeping small plants around your workspaces. The researchers had each participant place an air plant, bonsai, san pedro cactus, foliage plant, kokedama, or echeveria on their desk. They were then asked to look at and tend to their plant whenever they felt fatigued or stressed.
By the end of the experiment, there was a clear trend that the plants had decreased anxiety, sometimes by up to 40%.
The study focused on plants in an office environment, but whether or not you’re at work this is a great reason to add some potted plants to your living or working spaces.
Some scientists think plants have this effect on well-being because when we have a little piece of nature inside, it reminds us to take a step back and admire the world’s beauty. Taking the time to care for and appreciate a small and precious living thing makes many people feel happy and peaceful.
Pure air makes us feel good
Many people don’t know that indoor air is often more polluted and has less oxygen than the air outside. Clean, oxygenated air boosts brain function, which increases clarity and makes us feel good.
Purified air is also filled with negative ions - molecules charged with electricity. These have been linked to reducing depression and increasing cognitive performance.
Plants help to clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Certain plants also filter harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and xylene from the environment. In NASA’s Clean Air Study, spider plants (chlorophytum comosum) tested particularly well, removing 95% of the pollutants in its environment in 24 hours.
Having plants in your home is a great way to purify the air and feel your best.
Plants and flowers spark creativity and productivity
In 2013, psychology researchers from the University of Exeter did an experiment at the Chelsea Flower Show. They found that workspaces decorated with potted plants and flowers help people to be more innovative.
Letting people make design decisions near potted plants and flowers made people up to 45% more creative and 38% more productive.
You could consider adding some house plants to your sewing room, kitchen, home office, or other creative space to take advantage of this benefit of plants.
Green makes you feel relaxed
Research shows that the mental health benefits of your house plants can depend on the plant’s color. You can think about what mental health benefits you value when buying potted plants for your home. For instance:
- Dark green is relaxing and calming. Swiss cheese plants (monstera deliciosa) are a large and leafy house plant with dark green leaves. If you prefer succulents, consider the vibrant dancing bones cactus (hatiora salicornioides).
- Bright green and green-yellow plants make people feel pleasant, excited and strong. You could try Green Bean (peperomia ferreyrae), a bright and cheerful semi-succulent, or Vancouver Bicentennial (pelargonium) if you’re looking for something a little more floral.
- Red aids concentration and focus. We recommend pink angel (fittonia albivenis), a striking plant with bright pink veins contrasted against green leaves. Red or pink flamingo flower (anthurium andraeanum) is also a stunning choice. Native to Colombia and Ecuador, this plant has heart-shaped leaves that can appear in red, pink, white or mixed varieties.
Looking after something decreases loneliness and depression
Some of the mental health benefits from plants are similar to the effects that you might get from walking in nature. However, having your own house plants can be better than being in nature because you get to develop a personal attachment to the plant. Your meaningful connection to the plant, however slight, adds a sense of purpose and, later, satisfaction as you watch it grow.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression linked to the grayness, coldness and general misery of winter. Indoor house plants can be a great way to rise above the cold weather blues and bring some much-needed color and life into your environment.
If you’re interested in using houseplants to aid winter sadness, try out an evergreen variety such as norfolk (pilea spruceana). Tough plants like this won’t be too affected by the cold and will stay happy and healthy all year round.
Plants are pleasant, but flowers bring a burst of joy
Luther Burbank, renowned botanist and horticulturalist, once said “flowers always make people feel better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.”
New evidence from Rutgers University shows that people give a more genuine smile when receiving flowers than other gifts, and that flowers may have actually evolved with the purpose of making people happy. Not only that, but the study indicates receiving flowers puts people in a good mood that lasts for several days.
We have records of people growing flowers for as far back as we have history records, but don’t really know why we’ve always done this. It’s thought we might like flowers because they have evolved to appeal to our two most important senses: sight and smell.
Buying a bouquet will boost your mood
Flowers are beautiful no matter their form, but bouquets are particularly special. We tend to associate cut and arranged flowers with joyful occasions and happy feelings, increasing the good vibes flowers make us feel.
It’s gratifying to appreciate the beauty and scent of a nice bouquet. Taking a moment to stop and literally smell the flowers is a very pleasant sensory experience.
You don’t have to wait for someone else to give you flowers, either. It’s a nice idea to celebrate your accomplishments and achievements by buying a bouquet for yourself.
If you're looking for an affordable yet quality option from our botanical selection, either for yourself or someone else, we recommend our small wrapped bouquet: 15 stems of cohesive and ethically sourced flowers, perfectly harmonious in any living space.
Author bio: Eva Stoddart is a freelance writer from New Zealand. She holds a BA in English and linguistics from the University of Otago, and enjoys writing about mental and physical well-being, relationships, beauty, and fashion. You can view more of her professional and personal work on her website: www.evastoddart.com