Why Indoor Gardening ‘Sparks Joy’

Indoor Gardening seems to be blossoming on social media these past couple of years and there’s plenty of good reasons why. As people are more involved in democratic choices and more invested in the outcomes, scientists are not surprised that hobbies like indoor gardening are becoming a huge focus of our social and personal lives. The benefits of caring for plants can improve your health and wellness and help you cope with different types of stress.

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The plant that started it all for me (sanseviera Trifasciata)

It all started with one plant for me. I was unhappy with the state of my childrens and my health and wanted something to make sure we were breathing fresh air. I stumbled upon a massive snake plant on clearance at a home improvement store and put it in the bedroom. Quickly I realized this would not help the other rooms and I grabbed more plants for each room of the house.

Somewhere along the way, I started to play in the dirt and explore the roots while repotting. I took more time to play with and care for these plants rather than think of them as a task or chore. I no longer could resist touching the leaves as I passed from room to room to get everything done. I began painting clay pots with my kids, getting messy and creative and not worry about the next item on my to-do list. Sometimes when I’m struggling with the winter blues, I find comfort sitting in the grow lights and humidity surrounded by so many tropical plants.

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While I’m still early in my indoor gardening journey, it is abundantly clear to everyone around me how much joy and wellbeing these little living creatures have brought into my home. My anxiety has calmed and while I do still enjoy meditation, gardening seems to be an effortless for of meditation for me. My thoughts slow, I focus on my happiness, I breathe calmly and my body releases tense muscles. Along with that, asthma symptoms have improved in all of us, as well as shortened sick periods and less bronchitis.

I know what you’re thinking. How could having a few plants inside do all that? Lucky for us, science can explain it all.

Plants can be your therapy

Horticultural therapy (yes, it’s a real thing!) has been documented since the 19th century by early American Psychiatrists. It is the practice that caring for a plant will bring mutual pleasure and a sense of empowerment to the caretaker. Watching something you care for grow and thrive due to your own effort is absolutely rewarding for mental health and confidence.

Cultivating a home routine such as indoor gardening can also become a meditative practice. Honing focus on the simple acts and allowing other thoughts to pass rather than giving them attention and time strengthens our attention and coping skills.

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“Caring for your garden can be a great form of mindfulness meditation. By connecting with the earth and with the practice of gardening, you can cultivate a healthy mind and feel calm and connected. Simply planting a seed with intention, or touching soil, can be transformative. Go ahead and get a little dirty.” — Suze Yalof Schwartz, founder of Unplug Meditation and author of “Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers.”

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Plants create a healthy environment

Most people are aware that houseplants cycle out carbon dioxide and release oxygen, some even filtering out heavy metals and toxins detrimental to physical health. This added to the pure water they release into the air through transpiration can increase your health and healing from viruses all the way through surgeries (check out this study).

Plants release natural chemical medicines into the air called phytoncides. These phytoncides are emitted by plants as a defense against diseases, and can be effective at boosting human immunity and protecting us from harmful germs. They’re also responsible for the pleasant aromas of essential oils, and for the healing qualities of aromatherapy.

Plants are good for your health

According to other studies, plants do more than just purify the air in your home and better your physical health. Just being in close proximity with a houseplant may lower your stress hormones and improve your physical and mental health (these are similar results to having pets in the home). They increase happiness and lower stress and anxiety.

Low indoor air quality is highly linked to depression and anxiety (as this study reports). As our bodies need to work harder to filter out the toxins in our body from the air (and food and products we use) our immune systems have to work harder, kicking on our stress hormones and alert systems. This is where the link between having plants for better air quality and improved health and wellbeing comes in.

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More research has shown that soil contains microbes called M. vaccae, or “outdoorphins”, which are known to boost moods and reduce stress levels. Being outside isn’t always an option but bringing nature inside is. The release of these happy hormones can help battle Seasonal Affective Disorder, which occurs during seasons where we may be stuck indoors more due to weather conditions and have short sunlight hours and a lot of grey days.

With all these amazing reasons to keep plants in your home, what other excuse do you need to head out and go plant shopping? Grab a plant (or two) and watch the health and wellbeing of everyone in your home improve! Happy gardening!