Many started their “Plant Mom” journey over the last year or “grew” their collection of plants into a complete decorative statement all over the house sprinkled around like confetti. The house plant trend has been all over social media and likely to stay indefinitely.
Plants are known to hold mental health benefits, and over the last year, tensions around COVID-19 have been high in some form or another. Naturally, any assistance is welcomed and much sought after. According to Psychology Today, “researchers found that people who surround themselves with plant life and other forms of natural beauty, indoors and out, experience emotional and mental health benefits that have a positive impact on their social, psychological, physical, cognitive, environmental, and spiritual well-being.”
Before you rush off to purchase house plants, a few things to consider:
Do plants purify my air?
My original intent was to write to you about plants that are “known” to “purify the air.” At least, that is what many articles have said and what accounts all over Instagram tell you (guilty, I’ve likely posted about “air-purifying” plants after reading articles stating they did). I was going to enjoy writing this piece. It was going to be something helpful and fun. BUT this is, unfortunately, not that article.
Air-purifying plants sound too good to be true because they are too good to be true, at least in the quantity you likely have in your home. Plants do purify the air, but according to a 2019 NASA follow-up study on their Clean Air research from the 1980s, it was “confirmed that to make a substantial difference to the air quality inside your home, you would need a large number of house plants working together to clean the air – up to 93” per square feet of floor. If you get more plants, do so because you like their look, they are low maintenance, or because they make you feel good. Unfortunately, substantially purifying the air cannot be the reason.
The Environmental Impact
The house plant trend is linked back to the need to bring nature indoors as an eco-friendly, healthy way to get the outdoors inside your home. So it is no surprise companies have emerged that can ship them directly to you. However, there is debate on the carbon footprint these small shipments to people’s homes may leave versus purchasing from a local nursery. I can’t answer this for you, but it is something to think about when purchasing.
If you are on a budget or want to try a more sustainable method of acquiring plants, try participating in a plant swap, starting a new plant from cutting another plant you already have, or from a friend’s plant. Several herbs and house plants can also be rooted. (regrown from a cutting in water).
Be mindful of where you place your plants or where the leaves may fall, as some indoor plants may be toxic to cats and dogs. The ASPCA has created a list of toxic and non-toxic plants to reference.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435
Once something becomes popular, prices often rise, and #plantlife is no different. Unfortunately, the increased popularity and plant-obsessed cultural moment have led to an unintended consequence — the rise in plant prices. About 71% of Garden centers in a recent poll by Garden Center Magazine confirmed raising their prices 1%-20%+ in 2020, with 64% polled stating their sales increased in 2020 over 2019 by more than 15%.
Luckily, there is something you can do to help make all plants more accessible! Donating, volunteering, and bringing attention to organizations like City Plants, you, too, can participate in “growing a greener future” for all.