An idea that’s being planted in more and more offices, senior centers, and homes is one that may surprise many people: namely, the benefits of indoor plants. Simply put, being close to plants reduces stress.
Research has shown that heart rate, blood pressure, and skin conductivity all benefit from the presence of plants and that people in planted offices recover from stress more quickly than those in unplanted offices.
The effect is likely to be most significant in situations where the tasks being performed are repetitive or not requiring high levels of concentration.
Studies in the U.S. also show that by reducing stress and improving attentiveness, plants can improve workplace productivity.
A number of studies also show that plants can reduce the incidence of minor health complaints in the working environment. For example, in one Norwegian study, after plants were installed in the trial offices, staff complaints about:
• Fatigue were reduced by 30 percent
• Headaches were reduced by 25 percent
• Dry throats were reduced by 30 percent
• Coughing were reduced by 40 percent
• Skin irritation were reduced by 25 percent.
Plants are also believed to have such a dramatic effect because they both improve indoor air quality and people’s perception of the building.
Today, horticultural therapy blooms as a profession and a practice. The American Horticultural Therapy Association reports that “horticultural therapy is not only an emerging profession; it is a time-proven practice.” Nurturing and caring for plants is a highly interactive and satisfying experience for people of any age, particularly for seniors.
As a way of giving back to the senior community while shining a spotlight on the healing benefits of taking care of plants, Initial Tropical Plants, the largest provider of interior landscaping and design installation to businesses in the nation, created the Grassroots Senior Healing program. The company donates plants, containers, and talented horticultural employees to volunteer at low-income senior citizen centers and demonstrate the healing benefits of tending to interior plants.
Interestingly, planted buildings also have less airborne dust than unplanted ones. The effect is mainly due to increased humidity and static electricity. That’s because plants are slightly negatively charged compared with their surroundings and so will attract positively charged dust particles, reducing the number in the air and on surrounding surfaces.