During the early days of the pandemic, many people made the decision to become houseplant parents as they yearned for a new hobby, fulfilling responsibility, or simply a diversion. Sales of houseplants skyrocketed in 2021, and how-to videos on caring for them gained popularity.
What was once a pandemic pastime is now a permanent habit. Experts are not surprised, either.
Maintaining a plant, or even several, only requires a small amount of time, and just having a plant around your workspace can have positive effects on your mood and health.
Efficacy, attitude, and mental health
According to a Washington State University study, people with plants in their workspaces felt more productive and tested to have a 12 percent faster reaction time on computers than people without plants. Blood pressure readings at the workplace showed a reduction in stress due to the presence of plants.
Maintaining plants can be a calming habit as anxiety, depression, and burnout have become more prevalent in our work-from-home lives.
Studies have linked being near greenery to better mental health, including less stress and anxiety. Additionally, it was discovered that being around greenery during the pandemic had a positive effect on mental health.
Don Rakow, an expert in horticulture and an associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University, says that once you begin using these plant practices and see the positive effects they have on mood and mental clarity, you just want to use them more.
Being in tune with nature
Despite the fact that most Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, Rakow found that people who spend more time outside feel more alive and satisfied with their lives. The presence of indoor plants can serve as a substitute for outdoor greenery.
According to Christopher Satch, professor at the New York Botanical Gardens and creator of The Plant Doctor, the color green itself is calming. He also mentions that some plant scents have aromatherapy properties that can improve mood.
We are reintroducing nature into our lives through plants, claims Satch. “Watching them grow and thrive provides a sense of optimism,” says the author, adding that it might inspire someone to take more initiative in addressing the current climate crisis or to behave in a more sustainable manner.
Collaboration and imagination
Maintaining plants can encourage creativity and give one a sense of accomplishment, particularly for those who may use the produce they grow in their cooking. And the straightforward task of caring for a plant can give someone a sense of daily purpose if they are feeling down or having trouble with any aspect of their mental health.
What you grow can actually be harvested, according to Satch. “It’s very rewarding to me,”
Regular gardening can also strengthen relationships with neighbors for those who decide to move their planting outside.
Where to start
Start small if you want to include more plants in your life.
Satch asserts that “even just one plant is enough to make a difference.”
According to Rakow, starting with one or two houseplants will only require a few minutes of watering each week and won’t break the bank. A flowering plant like an orchid or African violet can be a good place to start for those with good window light. Consider a philodendron or pothos for areas with low lighting. Make sure the plant you select is suitable for homes with young children and animals. The internet is a wealth of information for advice on plant maintenance, including the best times to water your plants, or you can go to your neighborhood nursery.