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.
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!