Health and happiness in a pot
GIVE your skin, lungs and mental health a helping hand by filling your home with foliage and flowers. Dr Tijana Blanusa, principal horticultural scientist at the
Royal Horticultural Society, gives HANNAH
STEPHENSON a few suggestions as to how houseplants can benefit body and mind:
■ Plants can reduce ‘sick building syndrome’
HOUSEPLANTS can help reduce the impact of ‘sick building syndrome’ – which includes dry skin, itchy eyes, respiratory irritations and headaches – by increasing humidity because of movement of water from leaves and soil into the atmosphere. Peace lilies and ivy with higher transpiration rates are good options.
■ Some plants trap chemical gases
THE aftermath of a fry up or casserole can be a range of potentially harmful gaseous and volatile chemical compounds (VOCs). Plants can capture these via small pores in their leaves, by diffusion through plant cuticle on the leaf surface and via the activity of soil micro-organisms. Varieties of dracaena (a small shrub), ficus (figs), nephrolepis (ferns) and syngonium (vines) have the potential to remove the largest quantities of these compounds.
■ Plants can help increase productivity
HOUSEPLANTS can also help improve productivity along with people’s perceived wellbeing; the exact mechanisms are not known but it is believed that a variation in plant shape, size and colour within planting
schemes elicits positive responses. Therefore a mix of plant species in a room, some flowering and some leafy, is likely to have a positive effect.
■ They boost your mental health
GREENERY is pretty, and tending for plants can give you a great sense of purpose and reward, too. Try succulents or orchids or include large ferns for drama and impact.
■ FOR more advice on getting the most from your houseplants, visit the RHS Urban Garden Show on October 27 and 28, where expert growers will exhibit and sell the best tropical houseplants, seasonal blooms and spring-flowering bulbs.
Surrounding yourself with flowers at home or work can help you work harder and feel better