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Bringing the outdoors in: A guide to plants in the home

From cleaner air and lowered stress levels to achieving the perfect interiors for our homes, there’s a lot to be said for introducing a touch of nature indoors. Read on to find out how bringing a bit of the outdoors in can transform your home.
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Most of us will be familiar with that ‘cooped-up’ feeling that comes with spending most of the day indoors. We hurry from the house to the car, to the office and then home again – perhaps with a stint at the gym in between. If we’re lucky (and it’s summer), we might manage a couple of hours outside before the evening sets in. But in the chillier Autumn and colder Winter months, we’re more likely to be snuggling up on the sofa in the evening than basking in the late afternoon sun. This can lead to feelings of restlessness, irritability and general cabin-feverishness. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, we may have just the solution for you.

Beautiful botanicals: for the mind, body and soul

Introducing botanicals into your home is not only a great way add character, it also goes a long way towards alleviating that stir crazy feeling too. And the effects of houseplants are far from psycho-sematic. There’s a mountain of scientific evidence to show that bringing greenery indoors works wonders for our physical and mental health, reducing feelings of anxiety and stress, and controlling humidity indoors, which makes us less susceptible to viruses [source]. Bright splashes of colour, less illness and uplifted moods all round – who can say no to that?

As well as adding a feeling of spaciousness and freshness to your home, house plants are known to support human health in a number of ways. Firstly, they actively capture pollutants, making the air cleaner and enabling us to breathe more easily. Plants that are particularly good at this include Barberton daisies, English ivy, snake plants, spider plants and Aloe vera. That breath of fresh air you’ve been longing for after spending all day in a stuffy office? Looks like you can get it while settling down to watch that box set.

Bringing plants into the home can also make us feel less stressed and anxious due to creating more richly oxygenated air. That’s because when our oxygen levels increase, our anxiety levels naturally reduce [source]. Plus, air that’s full of toxins has been linked to anxiety and depression, so with air that’s both more oxygenated and purer, our mental health is bound to benefit. And, as if that weren’t enough, soil itself contains microbes called Mycobacterium vaccae – otherwise known as ‘outdoorphins’ – which (as the name suggests) physically boost our mood and make us feel less stressed [source].

And it’s not just our minds that are set to benefit from house plants, but our bodies too. Plants release natural chemical medicines into the air called phytoncides, which can improve human immunity and protect us from germs [source]. Finally, adding plants to the home can be genuinely healing on a holistic scale due to the calming effects of aromatherapy. Think dreamy lavender, sultry jasmine and sweet peppermint. Sold? Us too.

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An unlikely art form: choosing your plants wisely

So now that we’re aware of the erring-on-magical effects of houseplants, how do we know where to start when it comes to choosing them? From dissecting gardening lingo to picking out the perfect flower vase, it can feel like a minefield for the less-than-green fingered among us.

First things first, treat plants as a kind of living artwork. More than just an afterthought to your home’s interiors, make them a focal point, and treat them as one of the main features of your décor. For the interior design enthusiasts, it has to be funky succulents and cacti intermingled with spikey, lime green spider plants (hello clean air) and vibrant, flat leaved Calathea plants. Brought to life with lots of bright accessories and contemporary furniture, bold choices like these can bring your interiors together and make for a cutting-edge design masterpiece.

For those who love all things decorative, there’s nothing more picturesque than overflowing String of Pearls plants, whether dotted around the house in tasteful pots or hung artistically on white walls. Add bursts of pink seasonal flowers in delicate vases (roses, blossom, perennials – whatever takes your fancy), and a couple of potted olive trees for a romantic finish.

And for those that want all the benefits of plants in the home without having to expend much effort, go for waxy, hard-to-kill options. The jade plant, for example, is very low maintenance and looks beautiful with its orb-like leaves and luscious, deep-green colouring. Aloe is also a good choice, and a fashionable one too. Their jelly-like leaf tissue is famed for its healing properties, but they’re also gorgeous to look at and require very little watering, especially in winter. Then there’s the fuzzy, appropriately named rabbit’s ear, which is as cute as it sounds with lovely soft leaves that are covered in fur, and which also doesn’t need watering much.

Getting it right: a few final considerations

Whichever plants you go for, it’s important to research exactly which ones will work for you and your home. While some are low-maintenance, others require a lot of care, with the needs of different plants vary in terms of environment. For large rooms that get a lot of light, for example, you could opt for something impressive to fill the space, such as a citrus tree. But for darker rooms you’d need to go for something that could survive with less sunlight, such as a fiddle-leaf fig tree.

As for spacing plants out, it’s all about having an open mind. The beauty of houseplants is their mobility, allowing you to move them around your home to give rooms a brand-new look whenever you fancy. Try to stick to the essential rules of interior design – opting for larger plants in big spaces, and placing smaller ones in groups of three. We love the look of a neat row of succulents placed along a dining or coffee table to add that lovely, finished feel to the room.

Whether you want to create a stress-free space of tranquillity and wellbeing, or simply love the look of houseplants, there are reams of benefits to be gained from bringing the outdoors in. From cleaner air to lowered stress levels, to lovely-looking living rooms and fresh, spacious hallways, it seems the humble houseplant needn’t be so humble after all.

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