I first became interested in indoor plants when I realised that my growing urge to garden could only be satisfied if I learnt how to cultivate in what space I had. Realising my vision of a large bush block on which to satisfy my green thumb was going to take me longer than I thought to achieve, I set about learning how to grow plants in small spaces. Moving from a small row house to an apartment several years ago, I had to downsize my already limited plant collection. I was lucky enough to have a north-facing balcony. So I started to growing edibles such as lettuce and herbs, as well as a few hardy succulents. Yet that space quickly became full.
And so I started growing inside: the rather unfortunately-named Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sanseviera trifasciata) in the bedroom, Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aethiopicum) in the bathroom, even some Tree Aeoniums (Aeonium arboretum) albeit in a more bonsai-like form than one usually sees! Coming home at night, seeing these plants puts a smile on my face and lets me know I’m home. I didn’t know it at first, but I’m not the only person to feel so positively towards indoor plants. As my informal interest in these plants has grown into a research project in my final semester at university, I came across a great deal of research documenting the benefits associated with growing plants indoors. I’d like to share the following with you …
Working in a hospital or medical environment?
Let’s face it. Nobody likes to be sick. Whilst Australian medical facilities are first-rate, no one really wants to have the reason to enter one. However, researchers have found that placing live plants inside a hospital and similar environments may help to reduce the stress experienced in those settings1. Viewing plants during the recovery period may improve medical outcomes for hospital patients. A study into the recovery of surgical patients found that patients in rooms with plants had significantly enhanced physiologic responses during recovery, as evidenced by lower systolic blood pressure, lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and more positive feelings and higher satisfaction about their hospital room2. An easier recovery doesn’t just improve the medical experience for the patient and their family and friends, but may even help hospital administrators if it means shorter stays and reduced costs.
Seeking that edge in hospitality or retail?
As a business owner, you may be looking for that competitive edge to get ahead. But did you know that greenery inside your premises may actually encourage people to spend more money by keeping customers there longer? Interior spaces with vegetation are perceived to be more attractive than those with no vegetation1,3, with the presence of indoor plants indicating to users that these spaces are places of warmth and caring3. Create a space where people want to stay longer and you might just be rewarded.
Want to spruce up your workplace?
Many of us spend our working day disconnected from nature. And research shows that our performance can suffer. Placing plants inside your office can help to create a more pleasant working environment by reducing noise levels4. It can also help to increase job satisfaction and performance5. In addition, indoor plants may improve indoor air quality by reducing levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)6,7, carbon dioxide (CO2)6,8,9 and carbon monoxide (CO)6, all of which contribute to the phenomenon known as ‘Sick Building Syndrome’. Is it really the flu your colleagues suffer from each winter? Hmmm, one wonders! Using indoor plants to improve air quality may also potentially reduce building energy usage, and potentially costs, associated with the installation and maintenance of central Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems normally used to remove those air pollutants4. Good news for both for building occupants and managers!
The benefits of indoor greenery are multiple, including environmental, social and economic. So what are you waiting for? Start growing an indoor plant at home today or contact one of our IPA members to find out how you can green your workplace. Good luck!
Gabrielle is currently completing a Master of Urban Horticulture at the University of Melbourne, conducting research into the “Leaf trait plasticity of common green wall species in response to light”.
- Dijkstra, K, Pieterse, ME & Pruyn, A 2008, ‘Stress-reducing effects of indoor plants in the built healthcare environment: The mediating role of perceived attractiveness’, Preventive Medicine, iss. 47, pp. 279-283
- Park, S-H & Mattson, RH 2009, ‘Ornamental Indoor Plants in Hospital Rooms Enhanced Health Outcomes of Patients Recovering from Surgery’, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 15, no. 9, pp. 975-980
- Aitken, JE & Palmer, RD 1989, ‘The Use of Plants to Promote Warmth and Caring in a Business Environment, 11th Annual Meeting of the American Culture Association, St. Louis, Missouri, 5-8 April, 1989
- Zavattaro, M 2016, Towards Development of Indoor Plant Walls for Improved Indoor Air Quality, Report to Interior Plantscape Association (IPA), June 2016, Plants and Urban Air Quality Group, School of Life Sciences, University of Technology Sydney
- Dravigne, A, Walizcek, TM, Lineberger, RD & Zajicek, JM 2008, ‘The Effect of Live Plants and Window Views of Green Spaces on Employee Perceptions of Job Satisfaction’, Horticultural Science, vol. 43, iss. 1, pp. 183–187
- Burchett, M, Torpy, F & Tarran, J 2008, ‘Interior Plants for Sustainable Facility Ecology and Workplace Productivity’, Proceedings of the HMAA Conference, pp. 7-9
- Song, J-E, Kim, Y-S & Sohn, J-Y 2011, ‘A Study on the Seasonal Effects of Plant Quantity on the Reduction of VOCs and Formaldehyde’, Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering, May 2011, pp. 241-247
- Pennisi, SV & van Iersel, MW 2012, ‘Quantification of Carbon Assimilation of Plants in Simulated and In Situ Interiorscapes’, Horticultural Science, vol. 47, iss. 4, pp. 468-476
- Torpy, FR, Irga, PJ & Burchett, MD 2014, ‘Profiling indoor plants for the amelioration of high CO2 concentrations’, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, iss. 13, pp. 227–233