These days, a good chunk of humanity spends the majority of time indoors: in the office, relaxing on the sofa in the evening or snoring away in bed. This limits exposure to the great outdoors, but if we can’t go to the jungle, we can bring the jungle to us. Aside from the mental and spiritual benefits of having a home that drips with relaxing greenery, filling your space with plants has real health benefits. Here are seven houseplants you can invite indoors to give yourself a boost and connect #withnature on World Environment Day and beyond.
This spiky little plant has been used for thousands of years to treat skin conditions, sunburn and scrapes: snip off a section, rub the gel on the affected area and enjoy the ‘aaaahhhh’ of relief. But it’s also good at soaking up chemicals including benzene, which is found in paints and cleaning products. Aloe vera grows well in indirect sunlight, and generally only needs watering about once a week – perfect for the lazy indoor gardener.
The gorgeous Peace Lily can reduce mould by absorbing spores through its leaves, which means it can be a good fit for your bathroom. There is also some evidence the plant absorbs electromagnetic radiation. You probably wouldn’t want to tape one to the side of your head to cut down on phone radiation, but you could pop one near your computer or television.
The Boston Fern is known for its humidifying properties, which makes it potentially useful for people with dry skin conditions. The plant is also very efficient at removing formaldehyde so, if you happen to keep any embalmed pets sitting around the house, make sure you place the fern at a reasonable distance. Direct sunlight and regular misting will keep your Boston Fern healthy.
So named because they do look rather like spiders with a few too many green legs, spider plants are incredibly easy to grow indoors with indirect sunlight and reasonably cool temperatures. The plant filters many of the same compounds as others, but it also can reduce xylene, which is found in a lot of household goods, including magic markers. Plus, who doesn’t want a giant spider-like plant in the house to scare the kids?
Unlike the spider plant, this one doesn’t look like its namesake, although at a push you could see the resemblance to mother-in-law’s tongue, another common name. Once again it cleans the air, but its best use may be in the bedroom. The snake plant is rare in that it absorbs carbon dioxide and produces oxygen at night. That could stop the room getting stuffy and help you get some quality sleep.
Another one for the toilet. One study showed that English Ivy reduces airborne fecal-matter. That’s right: every time you flush the loo, there is a chance you are sending tiny particles of poop into the air. You can cut down the phenomenon by flushing with the lid down, but, if you or your family members are forgetful, an English Ivy over the toilet can be your automatic air-freshener.
The humble old dandelion may not be the prettiest, but it has many medicinal uses. Dandelion greens contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron and other useful minerals. It has been used for liver detoxification, reducing swelling and fighting infections. Some research shows that dandelion root extract could have an impact on the fight against cancer. The flower may look a bit a gone-to-seed clown’s third-best wig, but it’s worth having some around.