Design, Great living spaces, Home, Hygge, Wellbeing in the home, Wellness | 09 April 2020
House plants for the soul.
In our latest piece on wellness in the home we explore house plants — why they’re great for you, how to care for them and how to create a great aesthetic.
Part 1: The benefits
Indoor plants are scientifically proven to be good for your health and wellbeing. They enhance your mood, improve air quality and instil a sense of peace and wellbeing.
“A house is a home when it shelters the body and comforts the soul.”
Philip Moffitt, editor, entrepreneur and director of the Life Balance Institute
Remaining home 24/7, venturing out for emergencies only as is the case presently (during the Coronavirus pandemic), puts the second part of Philip Moffitt’s quote to the test. How do we “comfort the soul” at home? What simple things can we do now to enhance our home environment and support our mental health and wellbeing?
We’ve previously written about how to “Create space to stretch and relax” at home, our “7 Wonders of wellness” (a list of apps and resources) and “Spark Joy — a joyful living space,” now we consider the simple joys and benefits of house plants.
One simple thing we can all do to enhance our living space and increase our wellbeing is to have plants in our homes. Plants bring life, texture, colour and joy into our homes. Indoor plants are scientifically proven to be good for your health and wellbeing by purifying the air and brightening your space. They are often described by those who tend them as providing a sense of calm and relaxation.
According to Hilton Carter, author of Wild Interiors and creator of @hiltoncarter the uber-popular plant focussed feed on Instagram:
“What I love about having plants is how much life they can bring into your home. They create so much warmth and euphoria, it makes you never want to leave.”
Hilton Carter talking to Bustle.com
The emotional and psychological benefits of keeping, tending and living alongside plants are becoming better understood. The anecdotal evidence suggests that caring for and tending to plants is good for the soul — the process of watering (just enough), turning to the sun, transplanting, cleaning the leaves, appreciating the results etc, makes you feel good. Now the science is backing this up as studies demonstrate the benefits to the sympathetic nervous system of these calming activities. A study in 2000 by researchers at the University of Reading (where two of our founders met), found that looking at images of foliage could improve markers of clear-headedness. Other studies have shown that the colour green, being in nature or having a view of nature makes us feel less anxious.
“Plants are the lungs of the earth: They produce the oxygen that makes life possible, add precious moisture, and filter toxins. ”
Dr B.C Wolverton
Dr B.C Wolverton conducted a landmark clear air study for NASA: He discovered that plants remove toxins from the air, not just carbon dioxide but also volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in plastics, fabrics, cosmetics and detergents etc, that are often trapped in our homes because of closed ventilation systems (not so in a Passivhaus). Indoor plants absorb these gases through their leaves and roots, making the air in which we breathe cleaner and healthier directly and positively impacting our wellbeing and health. The benefits are said to be reduced stress, fatigue, sore throats and colds!
Those working from home will be pleased to learn that plants in the home are also known to boost productivity, work performance and creativity by focusing our attention and restoring focus. A ten-year study by Dr Chris Knight and psychologists at Exeter University demonstrated that employees were 15% more productive when their workplace was filled with plants.
“If you are working in an environment where there's something to get you psychologically engaged, you are happier and you work better.”
Dr Chris Knight
The evidence is clear — we can all benefit immensely from having plants in our homes.
Part 2: Advice and resources.
Next, we consider how to look after the plants in our homes and how to create a pleasing aesthetic, plus we provide some gorgeous sources of inspiration and a list of beautiful plant shops.
Tips for looking after plants in your home.
We took advice from Catherine Borse, Wellbeing Designer and founder of Mayskies Studio @mayskiesstudio, on how to care for our plants and how to use them to beautify our homes.
“Caring for our plants can take some time to learn but it’s well worth it. Look after your plants and they will look after you.”
Catherine Borse @mayskiesstudio and Liquid Interiors
For those of us nervous about keeping plants — worried that we’ll end up with shrivelled brown leaves, Catherine provides helpful guidance:
- As a rule of thumb if the leaves are thin, small and or delicate they are likely to need a shaded area
- If the leaves are thick and succulent, they will need more natural daylight. Make sure you look up the plant variety to establish what’s optimal
- Re-pot new plants to ensure there’s enough soil and they don’t dry out too fast
- The base of the pot needs to have holes in it for the water to drain away or you’ll need to introduce pebbles into the base because sitting in soggy soil is not good for plants
- Don’t water your plants more than once a week and always do it from the bottom, sitting them in the water to drink rather than pouring it into the top
- Plant food is essential! Plants can’t live on water, light and air alone. Aim to feed them approximately once a week
- Consider feeding them watered down compost juice. If you have a composter this can be a great source of plant food as can dirty water from fish tanks because it contains nutrients from the fish waste
- Place your plants in places where you waste or use excess water, such as running the shower before it gets hot. Collect the wasted water in a container and use it for watering
- Use a water-filled pump spray to shower the leaves with moisture
Next Catherine gave us advice on simple ways to achieve a great aesthetic with your house plants:
“If you’ve decided to enhance your living or workspace with plants the most important thing is to have fun with it!”
Catherine Borse @mayskiesstudio and Liquid Interiors
Catherine explains: The benefits are such that we should have not just one or two plants in our homes but rather plants in every room. Plants make the home beautiful by adding colour and texture, they delight the eyes and create visual interest.
- Don’t try to be “perfect,” be spontaneous and natural v’s trying to control the look
- See your plants as a form of art in your home and enjoy creating vignettes on shelves, in corners and in spaces where there are natural gaps
- Layer your plants together with a mixture of tall medium and small plants; don’t put the same size all together
- Arrange a single plant or group them together in odd numbers, three, five, seven etc works better than even numbers
- Be aware of how big your plants are going to grow before you buy them. They can start small and take over, so if you have a particular area in mind check your plant won’t outgrow it
- Various pots in different colours, patterns and sizes is another way to achieve a relaxed look
- There are many styles of planters and baskets so vary your combinations, think colour and texture
- Hanging plants from your ceiling is a wonderful way to display them, it creates a focus at height making the room more interesting and is ideal if you’re short on shelves, ledges or windowsills
- Green or living walls, often seen in corporate environments, are crossing over to residential spaces and are a brilliant way to add greenery to a small space where there isn’t room for pots
Words by Catherine Borse of Mayskies Studio — originally compiled for Liquid Interiors.
Below we share our some of our favourite plants, you’ll find a few top plant-focussed Instagram feeds and some websites providing online advice. We hope you like our suggestions.
Sources of inspiration.
Rakesprogress Magazine (@rakesprogress) is at the forefront of the green-fingered revolution that is asking more questions about how we live our lives in a fast paced, digital and disposable world.
It’s no surprise with the immense benefits of caring for house plants that there’s huge love for plants, manifested in a multitude of houseplant accounts on Instagram. We particularly like the hashtag #plantbabies
Shops and Instagram feeds we love.
Here are some of our favourite Instagram accounts and or house plant shops — aka green eye candy for you. Many of these shops offer the option to purchase seeds which is a great and easy way to introduce plants to your home:
We love the philosophy, their purpose to nurture and take time to pause.
The largest and most glorious hub of houseplants in the heart of bustling Manchester
A gorgeous botanical boutique inspired by nature in Brighton
A cafe and plant shop for those after a cuppa and a cactus in Margate
Two artist/designers exploring their emotional states through the media of printmaking, textiles, drawing, plants & floristry
Providers of beautiful and more unusual houseplants with themed workshops in the Bath and Frome area
An immersive indoor plant shop tucked away in Old Market Bristol
Dedicated to helping plant lovers create a greener, healthier and more vibrant environment with a unique range of carefully sourced plants in Norwich
For more UK based plant emporiums take a look here: Plant shop UK directory
Specialising in house plants of every kind in pursuit of encouraging customers to embrace greenery in their homes
@crimsonhort San Francisco
Creating beautiful floral design for wedding, events and special occasions
Cultivating wellbeing with plants and botanical wares
Indoor greenery for the urban dweller
Unique plant shop, specialising in plant styling.
World wide plant shop directory: Lists beautiful, independent plant shops
Online gardening advice.
Now is a great time to learn new skills or refine old ones. There’s a plethora of online material available, bursting with gardening tips and ideas to try at home. We’ve listed two of our favourites below:
Find seasonal recipes and lifestyle inspiration
Great tips and videos on plant pots, flowers, bulbs and everything you need for a beautiful and productive garden
We hope we’ve provided you with practical, easy advice to enhance and enliven your homes and support your wellbeing.