Planting the Seeds to an Improved Well-being

Plants are more than just desk ornaments

(Image: Unsplash)

What do nutritious food, relaxing sleep and exposure to plants have in common? All of them play a part in maintaining good health. 

That last one may be more surprising. Nevertheless, studies have shown that keeping plants can help promote stronger memory retention and improve your mental cognition.

Plants have been used for their medicinal properties across many parts of the world. For centuries, the study of medicine was built around these herbal formulas. 

For example, historians estimate that lavender has been used for its aromatic sleep-inducing properties since the Ancient Greeks. 

Our modern understanding of plants means we can now explain these benefits in scientific terms; the lavender scent increases our brain’s theta and alpha wave activities which increases your tiredness. 

Research also indicates that some mental benefits can be gained simply by being in regular proximity to plants. Physcology Today found that people who walked through green spaces or otherwise natural environments were able to concentrate better than those who walked through well-trafficked urban areas. 

Plants can be cheaply purchased in all different shapes and sizes. They really don’t have to take up a lot of room and aren’t the time-consuming chore that they are sometimes perceived as.  

I spoke to Abbi from Botanic York, a local plant shop, she said “we get a lot of students in our shop and…they’re always quite keen to get something that’s easy to care for”. 

She recommended snake plants and cacti as great for students who are looking to take home small, fairly manageable plants. Snake plants in particular “don’t require a lot of attention and actually sometimes do quite well when they’re neglected, as they don’t need a lot of sun and like to dry up completely in between waters”. Calathia plants, for example, “will tell you when they need a drink as they start to wilt”. 

Another thing Abbi recommended was terrariums, which are essentially plants which come in enclosed glass containers, normally with cork lids. A wide range of small plants can go inside the terrariums and, in this container, the plants “essentially develop their own ecosystem so they require very little watering because they water themselves”. This setup is easy to expand as your plant collection increases. 

If nothing else, keeping plants gives you a sense of accomplishment and progress. Its life is completely dependent on you, and this responsibility can give you a great sense of fulfilment.  

One of my friends is growing clementines in her room, and she assures me that the fruit tastes a lot better than shop-bought clementines. Even if it is just a placebo effect, I still think there’s something rewarding about eating food that you’ve grown yourself. 

Plants aren’t just aesthetic accessories, despite what Pinterest might have you believe. Plants can (literally) liven up the room and help restore balance to your life.  

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