Plants and Health

Our obsession with houseplants should be more about health and less about beauty

By: Cheryl Lynne Potter

It’s not unusual for moms to gush with pride about their children’s accomplishments. In fact, that same scenario also rings true for those of us who have a love affair with our houseplants. It’s not unusual to hear plant parents talk about their plants with so much enthusiasm, you sometimes wonder if they’re actually talking about real children.

   Today, many millennials seem to have that same pride about their plants. You can, without any difficulty, download many social media websites and discover them talking non-stop about the variety and care of their houseplants. Some even give tours on social media about their vast plant collections. Experts say the resurgence of houseplant’s popularity is due to today’s visually driven social media websites. Instagram, especially, has become the go-to site for houseplant fanatics. 

    This plant obsession has many millennials spending a lot of money. According to the 2019 National Gardening Survey, 52.3 billion dollars was spent last year on lawn and retail sales. A quarter of that money was spent by millennials, between 18 to 34 years of age. Since 2014, this age group has grown at a higher rate in gardening participation than any other age group. In fact, compared to their older counterparts, who have a steady 35% gardening participation rate, millennials in this age group have a 29% participation rate.

   Yet, some people think this whole plant craze is simply nothing more than another social media fad. This can be nothing further from the truth. Today, many millennials are well aware that plants should be admired for more than their beauty.  Houseplants can help with our physical and mental health. Plants can also help us breathe better and can help to clear toxins out of the air. They can even help in boosting our morale, as well as eliminating stress. Researchers have discovered that rooms with plants have less dust and mold than rooms without any plants. Some plants, like the Chinese evergreen and the peace lily,  have leaves and other plant parts that act like natural catchers of allergens and other airborne particles. Plants can also add moisture to the air. Furnaces and air conditioning can help to sap our indoor humidity. This decrease in humidity can help put us at risk for catching a cold or even worse, getting the flu. It can even cause our skin to itch. Researchers have discovered that a collection of spider plants can help to increase a room’s humidity.  Carpets, paints, cleaners, print toners, inks and many other indoor objects give off pollutants, known as volatile organic compounds. These compounds can build up in the air, irritating our eyes and skin, making it difficult for us to breathe. Researchers say, houseplants can help soak-up these pollutants. Some good plant air-scrubbers is the English ivy, asparagus fern and the dragon tree.

    Some plants, however, can be used as part of home health remedies. The gel from an aloe plant can help to treat sunburn and other minor burns. Mint is an herb plant that can help with bloating, gas and other health problems that you may experience after you eat. Lavender is another important herbal medicine that has been around for centuries. This fragrant purple plant’s oil can be either inhaled or massaged into your scalp as a form of aromatherapy. You can also boil the leaves for tea. Some studies suggest that lavender can also help to calm you and relieve your stress.  

     Houseplants have an alarming effect on most people. Plants can help to brighten-up your surroundings and even help to lift-up your spirits. Plants have so much going for them. It’s no wonder why so many of us have a love affair with our plants.

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