People who grow plants often say that they do so for mental and physical health benefits. From helping them relax to boosting their immunity, improving productivity and even relationships, people with green fingers would vouch that their plants can do wonders for everyone around them.
Even scientific studies have shown that a plethora of plants can help remove toxic chemicals from indoor air – from benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. Organic horticulturist Satyam Jha, an Indian Council of Agricultural Research graduate, says that there is much scientific evidence to show that adding plants to work or living spaces helps reduce stress of occupants.
The therapeutic effects of caring for plants are also well known, as gardening has been shown to decrease blood pressure and lower stress, Jha adds, while listing out a few plants that not only enhance the ambiance indoors, but also makes them healthier.
Also known as pothos, this plant made it into NASA’s clean air report as one of the plants that help to remove chemicals like benzene and trichloromethyl from air. These chemicals are generally found in glue, paint and detergents. The money plant can be grown in small hanging pots and can be grown from offshoots. It can thrive in low light and needs water maybe once in two weeks. It is an ideal plant for beginner home gardeners.
Aloe vera is quite the hero among home gardeners. From releasing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide at night, to maintaining air moisture levels, aloe vera can do it all. It also helps to remove formaldehyde from the air. But its best-known benefits are its healing properties: the gel of the aloe leaf heals skin irritations and burns.
Another must-have plant for both beginners and expert home gardeners is the snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue. A study in Thailand found that four to five of these plants of a height of 60-80 cm significantly reduced CO2 concentrations. It also sucks in benzene, formaldehyde and xylene from air around it and enriches it with oxygen. It can grow in sun or shade and does not need much water.
Even individuals who lack gardening skills can’t go wrong with a spider plant. A NASA study found that this easy-to-grow plant can remove 95 percent of chemicals like formaldehyde and xylene from the air. In another study, spider plants were placed in a hospital room that had patients recovering from surgery. It was found that these people showed lower ratings of pain, anxiety and fatigue.
One of the most popular plants in the housekeeping space, peace lilies are low maintenance and look good. It can absorb carbon monoxide, and organic compounds such as toluene and formaldehyde, from indoor air. It also helps to prevent mildew formation, seen generally in damp conditions of washrooms. Peace lilies are also good at absorbing acetone vapours, found in nail polish remover, paints, rubbing alcohol and varnishes.
The floral fragrance of the jasmine flower is known to everyone, but little known is the positive effect it can have on the mind. Jasmine flowers can drive away stress at the end of a hard workday. A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that the fragrance of jasmine flowers can have a calming effect and relieve anxiety.
The large leaves of rubber plants are not just good to look at but have been found to be effective at sucking in toxins from indoor air and creating a fresh environment inside homes and offices. Apart from this, the rubber plant is good on the skin as it is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can provide relief from skin rashes.