Bringing life to your space with plants can boost your mental health

Bringing life to your space with plants can boost your mental health

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

Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications

Although you may not associate lush greenery with the winter months, incorporating plants into your home can beautify your space and help combat the winter blues. A variety of indoor plants thrive during the winter months and can provide color to your home during a dreary time of year.

Dr. Charlie Hall, professor and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University, has conducted research on the health benefits of plants and nature. Plants can improve your quality of life, and should be viewed as a necessity because of the range of positive physical and mental effects plants have on humans, Hall said.

How plants affect the mind and body

Not only will adding plants to your home this winter create a beautiful space to avoid the cold elements, but surrounding yourself with plants can provide positive stimulation. Hall said this positive effect can be compared to the feelings of happiness one feels when interacting with a dog or cat. These actions trigger the same responses in our brains when we are around plants.

“Biophilia is the innate love for living things, whether animals or plants,” Hall said. “There is a positive effect on the brain when there are a number of biostimulants, such as plants, in the area.”

Two houseplants placed on a shelving unit mounted on the wall
Nature and plants can help reduce stress.

Michael Miller/Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications

Greenness can have a positive effect

Short days and cold temperatures keep people indoors for long periods of time, and many people feel as if their moods are affected by the winter. Plants can help improve our mood, Hall said.

Nature and being around houseplants can help lower cortisol, the stress hormone, Hall said. He has also published articles reviewing the benefits of plants, including enhancing memory retention, reducing the effects of dementia, and increasing life satisfaction.

“It’s amazing that just having plants in your home can have such a tangible effect on reducing stress,” Hall said. “Being in nature, going for a walk in a park, or going camping in a national forest provides an increased level of this effect, but we know we can help reduce stress daily by bringing nature to us through plants in our home.”

Low maintenance houseplants

Whether you’re new to indoor plant care or have a hard time keeping plants alive in the winter, there are plenty of good options for low-maintenance plants that will brighten up your space.

Succulents are popular, low-maintenance plants that can tolerate a variety of temperatures and can survive well indoors if kept out of drafts and in a brighter area of ​​your home. Philodendrons can also tolerate cold weather when brought indoors, with an ideal temperature of 75-85 degrees.

Pothos and dracaena are low-maintenance houseplants, Hall said, 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 skilled at creating these responses, and they are relatively easy to care for,” Hall said.

When finding the right spot for your plants around the house, it’s best to keep them away from any areas exposed to drafts. Placing the plant too close to a heating vent may dry out the plant and shorten its life.

Even if you find you’re having trouble keeping plants alive, don’t let that stop you from buying a houseplant this winter, Hall said. Plants can still provide a range of benefits, no matter how long they have been around.

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