Plant Life = Better Life?

I came to college with 3 succulents and a cactus.  My roommate came with 3 cacti and 14 succulents.  As I’ve recently added one more of each to our collection, I’ve been wondering if these small plant forms have done more than contribute a pleasing aesthetic to our living space.

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A study discussed in an article I found covers this very question. Research has shown that nature has a positive effect on humans, whether it be a walk through the park or even looking at a work of landscape art.  Psychological benefits also come from having plants in your living space.  But what is it about having a tiny life form, that makes for a happier and healthier you?

While succulents and cacti might not have the same effect that a Boston Fern, a Peace Lily, a Spider Plant, or English Ivy have on human health and air quality, there is something to say about keeping plant life close at hand.  Plants undergo the oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle, which means that the carbon dioxide that we release, plants absorb.  The oxygen that plants then release, we breath in.  And so the cycle continues. Succulents and cacti aren’t nearly as effective in this process as are the plants listed above.  However, studies have shown that having plants in your living space improve the quality of one’s concentration and memory. A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that being around nature, whether it be going outside or bringing the outside in, increases memory retention up to 20%. I found this result incredibly fascinating, as my memory (especially my short-term memory) can be incredibly spotty from time to time.

This article continued to discuss other benefits of plants bringing them into your living space.  One benefit that stood out to me is that owning plants reduces stress levels. This made a lot of sense to me, because while succulents and cacti don’t require a massive amount of care, they still need to be looked after and watered on occasion.  Cacti aren’t children, but they do need attention, and having the responsibility of caring for something besides yourself allows for stress to be turned into positive energy. The same can be said of owning other varieties of plants or any sort of pet animal.

Another benefit of owning plants such as cacti or succulents is that they are able to improve one’s perceived quality of life. The second article I attached discusses how people associate living in areas with natural beauty with a higher quality of life.  While the article is implying that living in physically beautiful places is what causes this association, I still believe that the aesthetic of a desk area filled with little potted plants can improve one’s perceived quality of life.

So here I am, back at square one.  Yes, having plants in your living space can work all sorts of incredible wonders for your mental health, but succulents aren’t necessarily grouped into this category of “10 Best Houseplants to Purify Your Air and Life.”  Maybe it is the aesthetic that provides all of the benefits… Or maybe I’ll end up writing another blog post towards the end of the semester only to contradict everything I have just stated.  I guess we’ll have to see!

5 thoughts on “Plant Life = Better Life?

  1. Rebecca Aronow

    I got so excited when I saw this blog because I LOVE succulents and recently brought seven little new ones to school where they sit on my desk. I completely agree that they improve quality of life. Personally, looking at the cute plants just makes me happy because I think they’re so adorable and beautiful and I also love mini things. I also agree that having the responsibility of caring for another life (I actually do call my succulents children haha), no matter how small, allows you to feel a nice responsibility that is easy but lets you put energy into something else that in turn uses that energy to live. I was intrigued by the improved memory and concentration part because I would never have thought that and cannot think of how my plants would impact that part of my brain, unless it’s because I have a more positive mind state which in turn influences my memory. I think in a world where you’re surrounded by technology and many artificial things, nature in any form provides a form of relaxation and comfort that increases well-being. This article articulates the connection between nature and happiness really well.

  2. Valerie Lauren Murphy

    I think you’re right that keeping plants in your dorm does increase happiness because of their aesthetically pleasing nature. I always have some sort of plant or flower in my room, I think it adds a nice pop of color to my neutral-toned decor. Another reason that plants may be beneficial to a happier mood could be the color of the plant itself: green. We associate different colors (subconsciously) with different things. Green is inextricably linked to the environment. So this may explain why even having a little cactus in your dorm could make you feel more at ease. Seeing the green and being reminded of a tranquil, natural setting might be just the trick to staying sane while trying to balance all of the work and responsibilities of college life. Here’s a link to an article that discusses how various colors have affects on our moods and emotions.

  3. Danielle Megan Sobel

    I was really interested in this blog when I saw it. I always see people in my hall with tiny cacti and succulents and wondered if it was just for show, or if there was some benefit. I really like the look of plants, as they add a touch of home to any dorm. Where I live, there are always so many trees blooming year round – everything is green, so I may look into getting a few tiny plants for my dorm area. I would love to keep looking into the idea of how much oxygen they actually provide.

  4. Avery Elizabeth Holland

    I never knew keeping house plants had so many benefits. The idea that having a plant to nurture and take care of relieves stress is extremely apparent in my everyday life because my dad has a garden he absolutely adores. Before work every day he goes outside and waters his plants and trees. It’s a hobby of his that relieves stress and relaxes him. He grows all different types of vegetables that he harvests and gives away to our friends and family. While also being aestheticly pleasing, his garden also supllies a large amount of the fruits and vegetables we eat in my house! To learn about more benefits provided by keeping house plants take a look at this article. It talks about additional benefits including removing airborne contaminants and headaches as well as decreasing blood pressure.

  5. Brooke Barrett

    This blog really grabbed my attention! I’ve always wondered why people would keep plants inside their houses other than for the decor. It fascinates me that by adding a plant to your room or living are could have so many benefits. I knew that taking a stroll through a park or on campus is a good way to relieve some stress. Looking at the trees, plants, and flowers just has some pleasing and positive affects on people, at least for me. Adding them to your living area sounds like a great idea considering all of the benefits.

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