Our ancient ancestors lived in the wild, sleeping out in the elements, on the forest floor. Today, some part of our brain still apparently desires that life. We hike, we camp, we visit the arboretum and planetarium, we take vacations to wilderness areas, we grill our food outdoors on pretend campfires—there’s something in our limbic system which longs to be surrounded by nature.
Besides hiking, camping, or outdoor grilling, how can urban dwellers satiate the need to commune with nature? Happily, we can grow houseplants.
If you’ve never grown anything in your home before, there are many plants that do well with low levels of light and don’t require a strict watering schedule, making them perfect for busy apartment living.
While enhancing home décor can be costly, decorating with houseplants is relatively inexpensive. Other than the plants, which can be purchased from the garden section of any home store, you’ll need a few pots, some soil, and plant food to get started.
Perhaps, more important than the visual pleasure one gets from plants, are the physiological benefits.
Removal of Toxins
According to NASA, plants remove up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds every 24 hours, including formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. Modern buildings are nearly airtight, so dangerous chemicals can build up over time. Plants pull contaminants into the soil, where microorganisms convert them into food for the plant.
Release of Moisture
Plants release approximately 97 percent of the water they take in, releasing humidity back into the air. Air which is too dry, as it often is in Arizona, can negatively affect eyes, skin, and sinuses, and viruses survive longer in low humidity.
Humans breathe in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. While photosynthesizing, plants do the opposite, taking in carbon dioxide and expelling oxygen. It’s a great partnership, as long as the plants are engaged in photosynthesis. There are several plants that release oxygen even when not photosynthesizing, like orchids and succulents, and those should be kept in bedrooms to refresh the air all through the night.
Researchers at Kansas State University found that patients recovering from surgery in rooms with plants had fewer intakes of pain meds, lower blood pressure and heart rates, and less anxiety and fatigue. Those with plants in their rooms also had significantly shorter hospitalizations.
This weekend, go out and find plants that will brighten up your space while adding a touch of nature to your Encantada home. You may find your houseplants are your new best friends.