Spring is here! Like most people who love spring, I love it because it’s as if the world comes back to life, everything is green and blooming. Even when it’s not spring, I’m a big plant person. Flowers, herbs, succulents, cacti, vining plants, and big leafy tropical plants all have a place in my heart. So much so that my collection has come to take over whatever space I’m living in (sorries roomies <3).
Besides being beautiful to look at, I had always thought they were beneficial to my wellness, purifying the air in my home. But recently I’ve found out plants don’t actually purify the air in your home, all those Pinterest infographics I’ve saved over the years have lied to me! So, I’m here to help debunk the myth about plants and wellness and set the record straight.
It doesn’t matter what the plant, aloe vera, bamboo palm, chinese evergreen, peace lily, or snake plant (all plants usually advertised to purify air), if they are not in a closed system, like a space station, having a few will not purify the air. In order to purify the air of an average sized home, a study conducted by NASA in 1989 found that a homeowner would need around 680 air purifying plants! Trust me, I love a jungle apartment but even I can recognize that 680 plants is too many.
This myth first came about from a study NASA conducted using plants as a way to purify air in space stations or on rocket ships (closed systems). The reason the same thing doesn’t work here on Earth is because air isn’t locked in a single space, it moves around and thus any air that is purified won’t stay in the home and allow the plant owner to reap the benefits of.
But, never fear, this doesn’t mean that plants aren’t great for your wellness! Many studies have found that gardening and being in nature does reduce physiological and psychological stress. Taking care of plants in a garden or even tending to indoor house plants helps by suppressing the sympathetic nervous system. Having plants in your home creates a more natural environment that has been found to improve mood and focus.
So, if you’re feeling stressed or down about finals go buy a little plant. It’s rewarding to watch them thrive and science shows that as you take care of your plant it’s also taking care of you, and with everything going on everyone could use a little more self care.