How indoor plants can give city-slickers a literal breath of fresh air
Author: Josh Cole
Making time for nature can be a hard ask for people living in metropolitan areas, but a new report by Biodiversity and Human Health researcher Danica-Lea Larcombe has found that even inner-city apartment dwellers can get the benefits of being near nature with indoor plants.
A range of bacteria can be found in natural environments that people lack access to in cities, and exposure to them forces immune systems to adapt, making for more robust defenses against illness as well as stronger digestive systems. This leaves people living in cities reliant on local parkland, at a premium in some areas, or on indoor plants.
Fear of killing the plants or uncertainty about what rental agreements allow often stops people living in apartments from growing indoors, but there’s a wide range of plants that don’t need to be anchored to walls and are small enough to fit on a desk or coffee table while still yielding the benefits of being closer to nature.
There are other benefits to this proximity too – Planet Ark research has found that time in natural environments, even built environments that incorporate wood and plants, can reduce stress and improve heart rate among other benefits. It can even enhance learning outcomes in kids who are taught in those environments.
But some plants go above and beyond and provide secondary benefits. Five of the easiest-to-grow are below:
- Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum
Peace lilies are deceptive plants; what looks like a white flower growing from their stems is actually a specialised leaf that shields their real flowers. They reduce levels of acetone and ammonia in the air around them, and fare well in low-light environments. Most surprisingly they are even capable of surviving on artificial light.
- Gerbera daisy – Gerbera jamesonii
Aside from being comfortable in low-light situations and an old favourite in floral arrangements, NASA found that gerberas extract benzene and formaldehyde from the air. One of these hardy flowering plants could be a great addition to a shared laundry/bathroom as those chemicals are commonly found in cleaning products.
- Aloe vera – Aloe barbadensis
All plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen but aloe vera does so at a higher rate and as a succulent doesn’t need as much water. An aloe vera plant on a well-lit bedside table could make for peaceful nights as higher oxygen levels contribute to more restful sleep.
- Dracaena – Dracaena marginata
They need more fertilisation than the average indoor pot plant but these tall, leafy plants handle cool climates well and can clear the air of solvents and paint by-products such as xylene.
- Lucky plant – Aglaonema
Lucky plants or Chinese evergreens are resilient, traditionally growing on rainforest floors where light is scarce, and like the other entries on this list have been found to draw in solvents and other harmful substances.
- Find out which plants grow best indoors and start your own garden – you don’t need permission for a freestanding pot plant in a rental property as long as you don’t cause any water damage.
- Get some plants for your office – just make sure to keep tabs on who’s watering what, overwatering can be worse for indoor plants than dry soil.
- If you do live in a rural area or one with access to parks and bushland, head outside!
- The Conversation
- Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics
- ABC Gardening Australia
- Garden Drum
- Gardening Know How
Subscribe to Positive Environment News.
Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.
- Bin the (tea) bag »
- Our Schools Tree Day and National Tree Day »
- Trading trash for a hot cuppa »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - Small changes with big impact »
- Secret Mozambique rainforest piques scientific interest »
- A Walk Sew Good it's still being talked about »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - Choosing progress over perfection with Lush »
- Kenyan business Ocean Sole is flipping the flop from waste to art »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - Parliament on King »
- Disused and dirty swamp transformed into vibrant wetlands in the heart of suburbia »
- Threatened koalas receive NSW rescue package »
- Mexico City is bartering its recyclable waste for food »
- Super coral to resist ocean warming »
- Beach cleanup leads to turtle comeback »
- The bush stone-curlews are back in town »
- Dutch scientists developing smart app to measure water pollution »
- The Swedish fitness craze that's good for you and the environment »
- RMIT develops new proton battery prototype »
- Planet Ark's flagship recycling info service is getting a makeover »
- Italian sheepdogs become little penguin protectors »
- An innovative solution to the problem of ocean pollution »
- Indigenous women helping to conserve glowing turtles »
- Taking sustainable fashion to new heights »
- HP's plastic recycling program is turning Haitian pollution into printer cartridges »
- Cleaning up the Cove »
- A year in review - Australian natives made some great comebacks in 2017 »
- Marine plastic pollution: a personal perspective »
- Vast new ocean reserve created off coast of Mexico »
- Plastics inspiration: reasons for hope »
- Reconnaissance to protect the Great Barrier Reef »
- Koalas found in national park after decades of absence »
- Flying Dutch claim victory for the 7th time in the World Solar Challenge »
- Top Australian sustainability award winners announced »
- Doing well by doing good: a recipe for sustain-ability »
- The calming effect of contact with nature »
- The Australian second-hand economy is booming »
- Fighting waste with Fortunate Food »
- World's largest trees given new hope for preservation »
- Nearly 400 new species discovered in the Amazon »
- How far would you go for fair trade fashion? »
- Brush-tailed phascogale makes a surprise appearance on revegetated islands »
- Facing down fast fashion with up-cycled clothes »
- Decades of community action brings a disappearing frogmouth back from the brink »
- Back from the brink: recent 'baby boom' offers new hope for endangered southern right whale »
- Picky plants: Growing green in difficult environments »
- Island sanctuary brings hope to dwindling quokka population »
- 1.5 million people, 12 hours, 66 million trees: India's commitment to The Paris Agreement »
- The little Brown Antechinus makes a comeback at Sydney's North Head »
- 81-Year-Old Lebanese woman inspires a nation to recycle »
- How you can make the most of Planet Ark's new research into outdoor learning »
- Capturing Carbon to Tackle Climate Change »
- Futureproofing the Lockyer Valley with 20'000 trees »
- Green Clean for Sydney's Opera House »
- Dugong Numbers on the Rise Again in the Great Barrier Reef »
- Answering the Call to Connect With Nature »
- Scientist Discover Massive New Forests »
- Australia's First Rescued Food Supermarket is a Win-win for the Planet and Those in Need. »
- 'Creature Compost' - Zoo Reduces Landfill and Generates Income »
- Travel Companies Put Kindness Before Profit in Animal Tourism »
- Thousands of Birds Descend Upon Inland Lakes »
- Trees Help Beat Urban Heat »
- Chile's National Parks Expand by 10 Million Acres »
- How A Music Festival Convinced 1400 To Take Their Rubbish Home »
- Old Televisions Converted to Bee Hotels »
- What if Rivers Could Sue? »
- Access to Nature Should be a Human Right - Report »
- Rock-Wallabies Fighting Back »
- Scientists Use Tasmanian Devil's Immune System to Beat Cancer »
- New Coral Reef Rewrites Textbooks »
- Launch of Positive Environment News »