Enlivening your space with plants can boost your mental health

Enlivening your space with plants can boost your mental health

A plate of small potted succulents

Incorporating plants into your home can provide a range of benefits while enhancing your space. Succulents are a great low-maintenance choice.

Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications

While you might not associate lush greenery with winter, incorporating plants into your home can beautify your space and help combat the winter blues. A variety of houseplants thrive during the winter and can add color to your home during a dreary time of year.

Dr. Charlie Hall, International Professor of Floriculture and Ellison Chair in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University, conducts research on the health benefits of plants and nature. Hall says plants can improve your quality of life and should be considered a necessity due to their range of positive effects on the human body and mind.

How plants affect the mind and body

Adding plants to your home this winter will not only create a beautiful space to escape the cold, but surround yourself with plants that provide positive stimulation. This positive effect can be compared to the joyful emotions people feel when interacting with a dog or cat, Hall said. These actions trigger the same responses in our brains when we are around plants.

“Biophilia is an innate love of living things, including animals and plants,” Hall said. “As long as there are many biophilic stimuli, such as plants, in the area, it will have a positive impact on the brain.”

Two indoor plants on a shelf hanging on the wall

Nature and plants can help reduce stress.

Michael Miller/Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing & Communications

Green plants can have a positive impact

Shorter days and cooler temperatures keep people at home for longer periods of time, with many feeling their moods take a toll on winter. Hall says plants can help improve our moods.

Hall says being around nature and indoor plants can help lower cortisol, a stress hormone. He has also published articles reviewing the benefits of plants, including enhancing memory, reducing the effects of dementia and increasing life satisfaction.

“It’s amazing how just having plants in your home can have such a dramatic impact on reducing stress,” Hall said. “Being in nature, walking in the park or camping in a national forest can increase this impact, but we know that by adding plants to our homes, we can help reduce daily stress.”

Easy-to-maintain indoor plants

Whether you’re new to caring for indoor plants or struggling to keep your plants alive during the winter, there are plenty of great options for brightening up your space without requiring maintenance.

Succulents are common low-maintenance plants that can withstand a wide range of temperatures and can survive well indoors if placed in a bright area of ​​the home away from drafts. Philodendron can also survive indoors, with ideal temperatures of 75-85 degrees.

Hall said pothos and dracaena are easy-to-maintain houseplants, adding that poinsettias and Easter lilies are also good seasonal choices for the winter. To enhance your outdoor space, you can plant cool-season annuals.

“All of these plants are good at producing these responses, and they’re relatively easy to care for,” Hall said.

When looking for suitable locations for plants around the house, it’s best to keep them away from any drafty areas. Placing the plant near a heating outlet can dry out the plant and shorten its life.

Even if you find yourself struggling to keep your plants alive, don’t let that stop you from purchasing indoor plants this winter, Hall says. No matter how long your plants last, they can still provide a range of benefits.

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