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9 Science-Backed Benefits of Having Plants Indoors

January 22nd, 2021

When you’re a little kid the last thing you want to do is pull weeds, but when my mother was younger, it was her chore every week to fill up a bucket with weeds. Every Saturday morning, her parents would give her a big bucket and she had to fill the whole thing before she got to do anything with her Saturday. So every week, my mother would carefully, but forcefully rip each and every weed out of the garden until her bucket was filled with curly roots and bright green weeds and her hands were dusted in dirt.

While she enjoyed spending time in the garden, there was one week where she had had enough of her weed-pulling so she decided to fill her bucket halfway with sand so that her job would be over a little more quickly. This trick didn’t get her very far since her parents realized pretty quickly what she had done so it was straight back to the garden for her. But slowly, my mother began to appreciate her time in the garden, even the time spent pulling weeds. 

It makes me smile to imagine my mother spending time in her garden when she was a little girl because when I think of my mother I always see her tending to her beautiful plants. Seeing my mother working with her hands taught me that every garden has its weeds, but it also taught me the beauty of our creation and the power of a well-tended garden. I have plants in my home that I have had for over twenty years that bring me joy each and every day. 

Today, it makes me happy to see that what brought my mother and me joy continues to be spread to my children, who now have little gardens of their own. This is just a little snippet of why gardening is so important to me, but I hope you enjoyed this memory before you dive into some of the more scientific benefits of having plants in your home.

These memories are what make gardening so important to us, but we also always knew that there were a lot of other feel-good benefits to being surrounded by plants. We knew that having a bright lemon tree or a beautiful potted gardenia may be great for lighting up any room, but over the years we have also learned that having an indoor plant has a lot of incredible science-backed benefits besides what they can do for your home decor. And since we’ve been spending more time than ever indoors this year, we think it’s important to create a space that doesn’t only look good, but makes you feel good. 

Keep reading to learn why having a live plant inside your home could be the next best addition to any room in your house. 

Julie and her Mother

Julie with Peace Lily

  1. Working with live plants can help improve your attention

Two years ago, researchers were curious to see if plants could help sharpen your attention. So, in a small study with 23 participants, the researchers placed either an actual plant, an artificial plant, a photograph of a plant, or no plant at all in a classroom. 

Then, they placed elementary students (aged 11 to 13 years old) in each classroom and recorded brain scans of all of the students in the classroom. The brain scans showed that the students who studied with real, live plants were more attentive and better able to concentrate than students in the other groups. Pretty cool right?

  1.  Interacting with indoor plants can possibly help reduce stress levels

With a lot of people working at home, it might be good to know that interacting with indoor plants in your office or home can help make you feel more comfortable and soothed. 

In a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, researchers found that people who interacted with their indoor plants had a lowered stress response. On the other hand, when participants interacted with their computer, it caused a spike in heart rate and blood pressure. 

Maybe next time you’re repotting your southern magnolia tree or watering your olive tree, you can think about how this little plant is helping you de-stress.

  1. Indoor plants may make you more productive

There are multiple different studies that have shown that having an indoor plant in your workspace makes you have higher productivity and creativity. This study, originally published in 1996, showed that students had lower stress levels and worked 12% faster in the computer lab when they had an indoor plant beside them. One study even showed that employees took less sick days and had lower stress levels when their offices had live plants in them. 

Peace Lily helps reduce air toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, which means its great for boosting productivity and cleaning the air. The plant is also easy to care for because it needs only a little water and fertilizer.

  1. Having plants might make you more social and giving

In one study by Ming Kuo, her and her team researched the effects of greenery in a row of 16 10-story apartment buildings in Chicago. The apartment buildings were originally built to have greenery all around them, but over time some of the apartment buildings took out the trees and greenery and replaced them with asphalt.

Kuo discovered that in the apartment buildings that still had greenery, the residents were much more likely to say yes to questions like “do you know your neighbors,” “do you speak to your neighbors,” “do you know them on first-name basis,” and “can you rely on their neighbors for a favor, like taking care of their kids if you had an emergency.” Those in the apartments with less greenery were more likely to say no to those questions and report higher levels of aggression. Kuo and her team believe that when you don’t have access to nature you are more mentally fatigued and less likely to be social or helpful with those around you. 

  1. Indoor plants help your mental health

Having indoor plants might help your mental health and improve your overall feeling of well-being. A heart and lung rehab center in Norway placed 28 live plants in its common areas and tested the well-being of its patients before and after. In their study, they found that the patients who were around the new plants reported a greater increase in well-being four weeks later compared to patients who didn’t have greenery around them. 

  1. Indoor plants can improve your quality of life

In another study, residents in an assisted-living facility learned how to care for potted plants at home. When they did so their quality of life improved because of their feeling of accomplishment and companionship they felt with their plants. Some of the residents even talked or sang to their plants, which helped improve their quality of life even further. 

  1. Indoor plants can promote healing

If you are able to look at plants or flowers while in the hospital during a recovery from an illness, injury, or surgery it might help promote healing.

One review of different studies showed that people who were looking at greenery while recuperating from a few different kinds of surgery needed less pain medication and had shorter hospital stays than people who weren’t looking at greenery. 

  1. Plants can help improve indoor air quality

Many different studies show that indoor plants can aid in purifying indoor air of common toxins and indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde and benzene. While plants aren’t as strong as modern air purifiers can they can help improve overall air quality. 

  1. Greenery might improve long-term health outcomes

In another study by Ming Kuo, she found that “when you look out at a green landscape, even from indoors, your heart rate will go down, and you’ll change from sympathetic nervous activity over to parasympathetic nervous activity, which is basically going from what we call fight or flight into tend and befriend mode.” In fact, there seems to be a connection between greenery and the strength of our immune systems. After people spent several days in nature, researchers found measurable increases in what are known as natural killer cells, which help fight against any illnesses.

They found that by spending a three-day weekend in a forest preserve, you’ll boost your natural killer cells on average by 50 percent. And the best part is that 30 days later your natural killer cells will still be about 25 percent above average. While this is talking specifically about being outdoors in nature, bringing your plants inside can help create some similar effects. 

We hope you enjoyed a look into our past and a look into your future, surrounded by plants, living your best life. 

  – Julie

Convinced that you need some indoor plants in your home or that someone in your life needs an indoor plant gifted to them soon? Head to our “Gift Trees” to choose the right indoor tree or plant for you. To learn more about The Magnolia Company, click here