It’s a long-established fact that plants and nature are good for us, but I don’t think any of us realise exactly how good having a plant around is for our mental health and stress levels.
A review of plant and mental health studies has found that there are literally tons of reasons why being around nature and having it in our homes and workspaces is important. Hall and Knuth’s paper, A Review of the Emotional and Mental Health Benefits of Plants found that reduced anxiety and stress, attention deficit recovery, decreased depression, enhanced memory retention, greater happiness and life satisfaction, mitigation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), increased creativity and enhanced productivity and attention were all benefits of being around green spaces and having greenery in our homes!
Spending time around greenery and in open green spaces has a massive impact on our wellbeing; our mental fatigue is reduced, we improve our concentration levels and we recover from fatigue better. The more access one has to greenery nearby also reduces psychological distress, depression symptoms, clinical anxiety, and mood disorders in adults.
Office settings are increasingly finding greenery to be essential also, not just in our homes (although the two have become rather merged these days). When roses were placed in an office space, workers had significantly decreased heart rate variability than those who weren’t exposed to the roses. Another study saw greenery added to a windowless workplace and recorded participants' blood pressure and emotions while they completed timed computer tasks. The participants with plants were more productive (12% quicker reaction time on the computer task) and less stressed (systolic blood pressure readings lowered by one to four units).
So not only do they relax us more in the workplace, but they also make us more productive! They can enhance our attention capacity, lower our stress levels and give perceived higher job satisfaction!
Plant’s effect on humans is beginning to make waves in healthcare settings, workplaces and even in architectural design to incorporate more overall life satisfaction;
‘Workers in offices with poor light quality and views used more sick leave hours and this effect contributes as much as 6.5% to sick leave use. Moisture released into the air by plants helps with a dry atmosphere, reducing headaches and improving concentration. Visible greenery, both indoors and out, reduces stress and increases the ability to concentrate. In one such concentration test, employees who had a view of plants completed the test 19% faster than employees in a room without a view of plants. Offices in the Netherlands and Great Britain experienced a 15% increase in worker productivity when plants were included in office space.’
Time to purchase some plants for the home office we think! We’ve compiled a handy list of some of the most popular and least high maintenance house plants out there so you can reap all the benefits of having a plant in your workspace, without any of the delicate balancing of struggling to keep it alive!
This plant’s peak flowering time is from May to October, and is more commonly known as Madagascar jasmine. A well-drained compost and lack of direct sunlight are essential for this plant to thrive but is still needs a well-lit room. Fed it fortnightly, water it sparingly and don’t go crazy with pruning it – it doesn’t need much.
Although it’s sap can irritate some sensitive skin, English ivy is a very popular indoor plant. With the increasing popularity of trailing plants, this would look lovely in a hanging pot, especially as it is evergreen, meaning it has colour all year round. It again, requires little attention and is suitable for planting beginners, requiring some sun and to be kept well drained. Careful with this one if you have pets however, as it has been known to be toxic to dogs and cats.
Succulents like Echeveria elegans are known for being fairly low maintenance. This one in particular requires very little of you, except to be kept relatively warm and inside in the winter months. It’s pretty pinky-purple petals grow in a rosette and needs to in well-drained soil and in full sun, so a perfect one for your office windowsill!
If your home office is the shadier end of your home, fear not! The ever-adaptable spider plant loves shade and grows there happily! Long and colourful, this plant prefers to be out of direct sunlight and looks well in a hanging basket, requiring indoor surroundings in autumn and winter.
This one is slightly more high-maintenance, but the bright, unusual-looking bloom makes it worth it! These plants need lots of bright light and warm room to grow in. When watering them, be sure to pour water into the ‘cone’ on the plant, into the leaves rather than the soil around them. They do best with rainwater rather than tap water as they’re sensitive to chemicals, but boiled cooled water should also do the trick.
Miltonia are also known as ‘pansy orchids’ and prefer to keep cool, so these are another plant that will do well in a shady office space. They thrive in 12-15C temperatures and prefer to be kept out of direct sunshine. Stunning when they do flower, they may be dormant for periods during the year.