By Joshua Medina
Do you feel surrounded by a concrete jungle? There may be one way to feel better about it without having to make a camping trip to your nearest wilderness. And you might find it hard to believe.
Studies show owning an indoor plant can bring a refreshment of nature to the mind.
It makes sense that gardening might be good for you. It involves exercise that’s outside and often in the sun. And research backs that reasoning up.
A 2018 study called “Gardening for Health: a regular dose of gardening,” published in the British Clinical Medicine journal, shows gardening can reduce stress, anger, or sadness as well as reduce blood pressure and muscle tension.
But research also shows houseplants can bring physical benefits. For instance, a 2018 article from the South Dakota State University Extension Service, lists four benefits of houseplants. The first is “aesthetics”. In other words, houseplants can be beautiful. But number two and three on the list include cleaning the air and adding humidity,
The article explains more about each point. First, it says NASA reports indoor plants “scrub indoor air pollutants.” It says a few plants like orchids and succulents actually take in carbon dioxide during the day and release oxygen at night. Secondly, the article explains plants release moisture from tiny pores in their leaves.
But houseplants can offer more than just physical benefits.
A 2003 study from Texas A&M shows workers’ ability to work creatively and solve problems is higher in workplaces that have plants and flowers.
Indoor plants are also front and center in something called horticulture or plant therapy.
Laura Crossen, a counselor at South Plains College, says plants may help people enjoy life.
“Using plants as a part of therapy seems to help provide a sense of calm,” she says, “reduce some anxious feelings, maybe make someone feel a little more tranquil and serene.”
SPC Instructor of Biology Mark Lee, who teaches several sections of general botany on the Levelland campus, also describes the psychological benefits of plants.
“More specifically, interaction with house plants (as in, taking care of them)”, he says, “can benefit mood and well-being at levels generally associated with spending time outside in nature.”
So, one or two plants are not exactly a jungle, but they are part of nature.
Which one or two plants might you start with if you feel like you don’t have a green thumb?
“I think the easiest plants to take care of are succulents,” Lee says, “because you can forget to water them, and they will be forgiving. And most of them don’t need high amounts of light so that you can put it by a window, and it doesn’t matter which direction it’s facing.”
Former SPC student Ashley Lomeli Guzman says keeping a couple of succulents around kept her mind at ease.
“It really helped keep my study space from feeling bleak and improved my focus,” she says. “For plants that are so tiny, it made a big difference in my well-being.”