Ever since we moved into our house late last year I have been slowly filling our space with plants. I love how they look, the shades of green and varying textures, but there is more to it than just aesthetics. There are also health benefits to having indoor plants – they improve air quality and some plants support sleep – which I think is particularly useful if you live in an urban area or near a very busy road, which we do!
NASA did a study in the 80’s on the air purifying abilities of plants. Here is the compiled list of the ‘best air-cleaning plants for your home’.
Andy (my husband) sleeps really poorly most of the time, nearly to the point of insomnia, and so I’ve done some reading on using plants to support sleep – basically out of desperation! We got to a point where I would have done anything to help him improve his sleep (sleep is so, so intrinsic to our mental health, you’ll quickly find this out if you go a period without it). Our bedroom now has a wide variety of rotating plants, and while I can’t admit that he now sleeps like a baby, it certainly hasn’t hurt + it makes the space feel more inviting, which I’d argue is a very positive thing.
Here are a few plants which are suggested for the bedroom: lavender, because it’s soothing and reduces blood pressure and heart rate; jasmine has been shown to actually increase your sleep as well as the likelihood of waking up with less anxiety and in a better mood; Ivy reduces airborne mould; and rosemary which has a heady aroma that is believed to reduce anxiety and stress.
I have three kids and, while I really don’t need any other living thing relying on me, I’ve found some tricks which make being a plant mama relatively painless.
I find it easier to look after a house full of plants rather than the odd one, because it’s virtually impossible to forget about them when they’re peeping back from every corner. It’s also helpful to get into a rhythm or routine. I water them all every couple of days (more if it’s sunny and they are in direct sunlight) and spritz the leaves or give them a soaking in the shower about once every fewweeks. We also have a little dusting wand and dusting off the leaves is one of the girls’ weekly chores. It’s all pretty easy really, and is nowhere near as time consuming as you might expect.
A little tip for when you’re starting out is to make friends with the people you buy your plants from, as they’re often a wealth of knowledge. When we first moved into this house I knew what I wanted (based on Pinterest images and little else) but didn’t put much thought into things like potential sunlight or maintenance level and so a lot of my plants died rather quickly. It was discouraging and also a huge waste of money. When I buy new plants now, which I don’t do often, I do it in a more considered way. I think about where they are going to live and chat with people in the shop about what might be happiest in that environment. People who work in plant shops can also often tell you what you’re doing wrong (ie. too much water, not enough sunlight, too much direct light) if you show them a photo of your less-than-happy-looking plant. Side note: small, local shops are best for this, as they tend to employ people who know their stuff/love plants.
Propagation is so satisfying and my best economical tip, because plants are expensive.
I find that I play favourites with my plants: I love my sweet little Pilea and I get oddly maternal about all of the wee plant babies that spring up from it. Propagating them is also my new favourite thing (don’t tell me I don’t know how to have fun) beause it means you can fill your house with plants without spending a ton of money. Plant babies also make great (+ economical) gifts! Here’s a website which talks you through propagating lots of different houseplants. In my very limited expereince, pilea, spider, monstera and mother-in-laws tonue are all easy to do and so may be a good place to start.