Houseplants give much-needed TLC to help cure winter blues

Grace Cook ‘21, Sports Section Editor

As many of us huddle into isolation this winter, we may find our homes feeling lackluster and our moods turning blue. Thankfully, houseplants are here to save us; they embody the ideal solution to this COVID-winter conundrum. Potted plants bring the healing power of nature to the warm interiors of our own homes. They require minimal effort—bridging the ideal balance between a pet-rock and a puppy—and are the perfect companions to increase our quality of life during a pandemic. Experienced plant-mom and senior Chloe Pomann said that plants can “create a positive environment as well as a healthy one,” and they definitely help develop the look of a put-together household.

The presence of indoor plants will effortlessly brighten the mood of any room, whether it be a bedroom, kitchen, or office. Houseplants are particularly advantageous in office settings because they boost productivity and creativity. For instance, junior McKenzie Buckley said that her air plant “boosts her inspiration while she’s working.” Air plants are small, root-lacking plants with pointy green leaves. They don’t require dirt or a pot, however they do rely on steady light and watering. Air plants are perfect for the windowed kitchen, office, or bathroom.

A study published by the Journal of Environmental Horticulture found that when a plant was placed in a computer lab, students worked 12 percent faster and were less stressed by their tasks. In another study addressed by Healthline, the brain scans of students placed in rooms with live plants displayed higher levels of concentration than those of students placed in rooms with fake plants. Having trouble studying? Add some bona fide greenery—such as the prayer plant, which raises its colorful leaves at night, or the African violet, which sprouts tiny flowers—to your office decor. 

Plants have healing powers, too. In a 2002 hospital study, researchers from Texas A&M University discovered that sick and injured patients healed faster when given views of nature. Greenery-dominated environments improve mental health as well; being surrounded by plants elevates our pleasant emotions and promotes stress recovery. The healing power of plants is backed by Buckley, who said that she can feel better just by looking at her plant. 

The act of caring for plants offers a plethora therapeutic benefits. Healthline reports that certain researchers have prescribed horticulture therapy, “to increase feelings of well-being among people with depression, anxiety, [and] dementia.” Potting plants is an extremely calming exercise that helps people release negative emotions. Once plants have been established in a household, the routine of watering plants gives people a sense of purpose. Houseplants also help to develop responsibility, thoughtfulness, and dedication in their caretakers. 

Did you know that plants work as full-time air purifiers as well? A study by NASA discovered that plants can purify the air of a closed room. Placing large numbers of houseplants like the spider plant, Boston fern, English ivy, or ficus tree together can filter dust and harmful household toxins out of the air. These green companions also regulate humidity, which is notably nice during dry winters, and increase the oxygen content of rooms, helping us breathe clearer. Certain plants–snake plants, orchids, succulents, and bromeliads in particular–are praised for releasing fresh oxygen at night to improve sleep.

Life during the COVID-19 pandemic is filled with stress, unease, and difficulty. Navigating mental health and online learning has been a major concern for teens this year, so to combat the hardships of living in isolation this winter, we should all rejuvenate our spaces with greenery. Houseplants are the fool-proof way to improve our quality of life–because even more than we take care of our flora, the plants take care of us. They clean our air, heighten our health, improve our mental states, and provide a sense of purpose and companionship during this isolated pandemic. Needing a pick-me-up this winter? Grab a plant. 

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