Getting outdoors, as well as bringing the indoors in, became a major focus with the onslaught of a global pandemic. People who may not have ever dipped a pinkie finger into wet soil, were suddenly trying out their green thumbs. And while outdoor plants are beneficial for various reasons, indoor plants are increasingly sought after as living decorative accessories. Houseplants offer color, texture, and aesthetic interest to rooms.
Cecilia Turner, an interior designer currently based in Manitoba, Canada, aptly refers to the practice of filling interiors with live plants as “plant decorating.” She points out, “People are simply not aware of the many amazing ways we can decorate with plants and enhance our rooms!”
Bringing the outdoors, in
Turner’s plant decorating suggestions to clients include:
- finding large, potted floor or table plants that are stand-alone statements – such as the Euphorbia trigona, also referred to as African milk tree, or Zamioculcas zamiifolia, also called the ZZ plant
- decorating tabletops with a “collection” of smaller, but various-sized, potted plants, such as succulents and cacti
- adding plants to floating, stand-alone, or leaning shelves – or bookcases; plants such as string of bananas, which hang over a container, are ideal for shelves
- dressing up walls and corners with plant hangers; Turner explains, “There are also some very interesting glass, open and closed terrariums of different shapes and dimensions that can be hung from the walls.”
Currently for sale online and at some specialty and gardening shops are huge self-watering planter boxes, which serve as room dividers or to fill large, vacant spaces. In fact, planter boxes, stand-alone shelves, and decorative plant stands equipped with indoor plants also create a privacy screen in areas of a home. For example, a home office that suddenly became the at-home school room or space for more than one remote worker benefits from the privacy indoor plants provide.
And, instead of curtains in a window, plants on a window sill as well as plants hanging in front of a window offer privacy.
Some new, high-tech “smart” plant containers even take the guesswork out of water, light, and fertilizer needs. These containers are often designed with an aeroponic or hydroponic system to make it easy to even grow herbs and other vegetables indoor.
Which plants to grow and what type of watering and lighting needs are necessary depend on an individual’s home environment and time commitment. A nursery expert can assist; plus, much information on a plant’s needs is typically included at the time of purchase. Merrifield, Va.-based Merrifield Garden Center’s top easy-to-care-for indoor plants include wax plant, Dracaena, dwarf palm, philodendron, pothos, peace lily, and snake plant.
Besides indoor plants’ decorative and visual appeal, they purify air, absorb noise, and affect mood.
A 2015 Journal of Psychological Anthropology study found that “interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system …”
The study determined that feelings of comfort are evident when plants are involved.
And the scientific journal Urban Forestry and Urban Greening’s January 2021-published study of 4,000 participants found that having plants inside a home boosts emotional wellbeing because they are soothing to look at.
Plus, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) began studying in the 1980s the effect of interior landscape plants on indoor air pollution abatement. Determined by NASA and others focusing on this topic is that some plants can filter out indoor air pollutants such as cigarette smoke, organic solvents, and possibly radon. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants absorb gases through their leaves. The elements are stored in the root system and then broken down in the soil.
In addition, Kimberly Button, green living/healthy home expert, asserted, “Plants give off phytochemicals (chemicals produced by a plant that help to protect it or allow it to thrive) that reduce molds and bacteria in the air. Some research suggests that up to 60% of molds and bacteria are suppressed when houseplants are present.”
Aimee Damman, director of marketing, Swansons Nursery, Seattle, Wash., added that “multiple studies have proven that indoor plants keep you healthier and happier, offering both psychological and physical health benefits.”
Swansons informs customers that indoor plants release water vapor into the air, which increases humidity. The resulting effect is potential improvement in respiratory and skin health. Cleaner air quality sometimes benefits individuals with respiratory issues, headaches, and allergies.
Damman added, “Humans have a strong connection to nature and bringing nature into your immediate surroundings makes you calmer, more content, and as we’ve seen, more focused.”
Yet, not all indoor plants are ideal if children and pets are about. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and National Poison Control center offer information on what plants are toxic. A few plants that pose a danger to children and animals if consumed include: English ivy, poinsettia, and azalea.