Hortology brings you the wellbeing benefits of greenery in style
Houseplants have a wide range of benefits aside from looking nice (which they are exceptionally good at). They have also been shown to have a huge range of physical and psychological health benefits including enhancing productivity and creativity, reducing stress and boosting mood.
If you’re familiar with Hortology you’ll have seen one of our key messages dotted about the website:
We’ve talked at length about the science behind houseplant’s ability to clean the air but it's high time we explained more about how plants can “lift the spirit” and “calm the mind”....
For us, green instinctively feels good. The benefits of being surrounded by plants are something we see in ourselves, the Hortology team and the Hortologists we speak to every day. Whilst we certainly don’t claim that houseplants are a universal solution to mental health problems, the instinctive feeling that "green feels good" is supported by a growing body of evidence and ongoing research.
How Green Feels Good – At A Glance
Owning and caring for houseplants...
Lowers levels of anxiety. Seeing and being around plants helps people feel more calm and relaxed, decreasing levels of anxiety. It’s one reason you see plants in dentist and GP surgery waiting rooms.
Improves sleep. Contact with plants during the day has been shown to improve sleep at night and people who slept in hotel rooms with plants reported feeling better rested than those in rooms without. Bedroom plants can create a soothing and tranquil atmosphere to reduce stress levels, alleviate anxiety and improve quality of sleep.
Increases attention spans. Being around plants, whether at home or work, helps improve attentiveness by 20 percent and can increase concentration and memory too. If your mind tends to wander during the day at work, consider adding a desk plant or two to help refocus and maintain your attention span.
Increases productivity. Studies have shown employees were more productive when indoor plants were added to their workspaces. Office plants are not just decorative, they're hard at work improving productivity too!
Reduces stress levels. Caring for plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress. This may be because caring for plants suppresses sympathetic nervous system activity and promotes comfortable, relaxed, and natural feelings.
Boosts mood. An environment that includes plants has been shown to give people a more positive outlook on life and stimulate feelings of contentedness, pleasure and happiness.
Indoor “Nature Therapy”
There has been an increased body of research into nature therapy or “Forest Bathing” in recent months which has shown that being in the presence of plant life can have significant positive impacts on your physical and mental health.
Studies have found that forest bathing (known from the Japanese “Shinrin-yoku”) has a number of positive physiological and psychological effects including alleviating depression and improving mood.
Further research is now showing that similar benefits can be experienced on a smaller scale with houseplants and indoor trees helping to calm the brain and body.
Not being surrounded by plants is a relatively new experience in human evolution. It’s only been a matter of hundreds of years (the blink of an eye in terms of human and plant existence) since we began to move into cities and towns and distance ourselves from woodlands and greenspaces.
Uniform rooms are incredibly peculiar as nothing like them would exist in nature. It’s the reason plain rooms look “sterile” – there’s something inherently disconcerting to not see green, rough edges and a variety of heights and irregular spacings. Adding plants to rooms goes a long way to replicating some of the features of a more natural environment by breaking up corners, adding height, introducing irregularity and, of course greenery.
By introducing plants to rooms you begin to create a more natural environment which studies suggest we find more relaxing, homely and "full of life" by every definition.
Scientists have shown that exposure to naturalistic environments like in forests and parks, has regenerative effects for directed attention.
Most of these studies have been directed at outdoor spaces but, a recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, suggests that similar effects can be experienced with indoor plants in rooms where screens are present – i.e. in offices and at home (in front of the telly and / or your phone!).
In an incredibly simple experiment, researchers placed houseplants around the desk of some participants and removed them for another group. The participants were asked to perform a number of exercises designed to test their attention spans. Those with the plants present demonstrated a marked improvement in refocussing their attention over the plantless party.
It’s just one more reason we are huge advocates for plants in offices and on desks at work and at home.
The benefits of a sustained and active interest in horticulture has been the focus of a wide range of studies since the Victorian era and are well documented across the scientific community.
As well as better physical health through movement and exercise, horticulture has been shown to improve mental health through sustained learning (there’s always something new to learn when it comes to caring for plants!) and the benefits that come from nurturing and caring for living things also appear to have a profound impact on our mental health.
Caring for indoor plants has been shown to improve mental health through a sense of purpose and achievement in maintaining and improving your plants’ condition. Seeing something grow and mature with relatively minimal efforts (certainly less so than pets for example).
Caring for plants is a reminder to take care of your own physical and emotional needs.
Plants need physical inputs like water, food, sunlight, a steady temperature, and plants also need time to heal and grow.
Time is the factor we often neglect to nourish ourselves with.
Take the time to maintain your plants and the process becomes meditative and relaxing.
Take inspiration from plants and give yourself time to heal and grow.
*Please note: this is just an article written by the guys in our marketing team (Hi!). It's not a scientific study in itself, contains lots of opinion and definitely doesn't contain any healthcare advice.