The Power of Plants

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Sara Hosford
February 11, 2020

I love spring. And as the snow flutters down outside, what a privilege to know that it’s coming… already peaking out… through the snowdrops in the gardens and the daffodils, stacked “€2 for 2 bunches” in our supermarkets. Family of mine are daffodil farmers down in Cork, and knowing the hardship of picking these sunny bursts of delight in the midst of February gales, I have an even greater appreciation for their spritely disposition, proudly heralding the onset of spring from their repurposed Dolmio jar in my Dublin-based living room.

Not my Dolmio jar of Daffodils! – but a beautiful photo by Christopher Martyn on Unsplash

Plants at this time of year are especially powerful. As they burst through the sodden or frozen soil, they are the forbearers of brighter days to come. The light at the end of the tunnel, the promise of new year, new life!

Snowdrops blanketing the wood in a Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Plants are vital for our mental wellbeing. We spend 40 hours a week at work, and for the majority of us, this means sitting in an office. Aside from a walk at lunchtime (often in a cityscape, with hopefully a park nearby!), most people are confined within 4 walls for the rest of the time. Plants have been proven to make this a much better environment. A study by CIPHR outlines the 7 ways in which this can be predominantly seen.

1. Stress Combatants!

A study in Sydney found a 37% reduction in tension and anxiety as well as a 58% drop in depression/dejection among employees in offices with plants.

2. Productivity Enhancers

Research from Exeter showed that employees’ productivity jumped 15% when work environments were filled with just a handful of houseplants. Adding just one plant per square metre improved memory retention and helped employees score higher on other basic tests.

3. Sick Leave Antidotes!

The 2015 Human Spaces Report found those with office plants reported a 15% higher wellbeing score.

4. Employee Enticers

A third of us say that workplace design would affect our decision to join a company. In this Instagrammable world where wellbeing is king, plants in an office win all round.

5. Air Cleaners

Further research from Syndey has found that indoor plants can help reduce carbon dioxide levels in buildings by up to 25%.

6. Noise Cushioners!

By absorbing sounds (rather than insulating against noise pollution), plants help to reduce the distracting effects of background office chatter.

7. Creativity Boosters

Attention restoration theory suggests that looking at nature – and even just images of nature – can shift the brain into a different processing mode, making employees feel more relaxed, concentrated, and according to further studies, up to 15% more creative!

I know I love plants, and I know they bring me joy and a sense of wellbeing that’s often intangible. These studies reinforce this innate understanding with empirical evidence and inspire me to embrace the urge to ‘Go Green’ … and buy more plants!!

I think I’ll leave you now to laze in the beautiful lyricism of William Wordsworth…

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, by William Wordsworth
Photo by Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash
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