"We must cultivate our garden..." – wrote Voltaire, a philosopher and educator, in the finale of his book "Candide, or Optimism." The meaning of these words can vary: people should work, do what they have a heart for, follow the goal, overcome difficulties. However, in our time a direct interpretation of this phrase would have no less popularity and novelty than its metaphorical meaning for Voltaire's era. Scientists have drawn attention to the fact that plants can bring many benefits to people if they are treated properly.
Part 1. On the benefits of plants for the human psyche
Botany has been studying plants and their relationship with the environment for a long time. Scientists know how environmental conditions affect plants and how flora adapts to certain circumstances. But not so long ago, researchers thought about the benefits plants can bring to humans. The question is not about medicines, which have been made from herbs and flowers since the dawn of time, but about the influence of plants on the psychological state of a person.
Nowadays, the phenomenon of "herbal blindness" has been replaced by "nature deficit disorder." What does this mean? It's very simple. In 1999, American scientists James Van Der Zee and Elisabeth Schussler found that people do not pay much attention to plants around them. They are merely a background for people, rather than living, separately existing objects. As early as 2005, journalist Richard Louv introduced the term "nature deficit disorder" and published his book "Last Child in the Woods." On the basis of scientific research, he proved that today's children's disconnection from the natural world has led to attention deficits, depression, somatic and ophthalmologic diseases
The vector of plant studies is changing. Researchers are taking interest in the mechanisms of human interaction with the natural world. They turn to Edward Wilson's theory of biophilia, who claimed that our distant ancestors needed to observe nature and have close contact with it. Residual feeling allows us to be more secure and relaxed around nature. Charles A. Lewis, in his work "Green Nature/Human Nature," explains why people still prefer a plant landscape: for ancient people, the distinction of inhabited and dead landscape was vital; it was associated with the opportunity to eat and drink. In his theory of recovery from stress, Roger Ulrich emphasizes that the brain still retains a program of preference for green environments.
A person intuitively chooses a green corner in order to rest and relax. In applied psychology, the topic of flora when working with a person is becoming more and more popular. There is a theory of phyto-resonance by Paul Shepard, according to which a person is able to reflect the characteristics of plants necessary for him – such as stability, a sense of reliability (association with roots), flexibility and beauty. In psychology, the ways of human interaction with nature to achieve any results has been called ecotherapy. People with psychiatric diagnoses can use plants to improve social skills, learn to plan, make their self-esteem stable, focus their attention. Nature has restorative properties for children. Wilderness therapy is effective in working with adolescents with behavioral problems. And children who grew up close to nature have far fewer mental disorders in adulthood.
The researcher Sofia Nartova-Bochaver proved that positive attitude to flowers, the ability to enjoy them is connected with the formation of basic attitudes of personality (control, benevolence, fairness, feeling of own luck). In another study, together with her colleague Elena Mukhortova, she proved that a positive attitude to the world of flora is also connected with a person’s moral attitude. People who are able to enjoy nature are reserved, willing to maintain social order and help others, avoid doing any harm. Read more about the article by following this link.
Part 2. On how to arrange a green space
If you love plants, it will be useful to learn about the best room to place sansevieria and a pot of violets. The fact is that each plant has its own characteristics, so each flower should be put in the right place.
Choose plants that improve the microclimate for this room. They should produce oxygen, moderately increase humidity and, if possible, filter the air from harmful substances. It is also important that the plants do not have a pungent, invigorating smell and do not cause allergies. Otherwise, instead of a deep and restful sleep, you'll be setting records for sneezing and headaches. Plants should not be afraid of drafts and shade, as the morning sun and stuffiness has no place in the bedroom. So, what kind of plant heroes would be suitable for this kind of a mission? Draw your attention to:
These plants clean the air from outside impurities, neutralize allergens, and release a lot of oxygen. If you like flowering plants, then kalanchoe or geranium are good for the bedroom. They will delight you with pretty and vivid buds. In addition, kalanchoe produces substances that help to relax the nervous system, and geraniums produce a lot of oxygen, ozone and repel insects.
The requirements for plants in the children's room are much the same as in the bedroom, but with the addition of a safety factor. Small children can pick a flower, eat its leaves or get scratched by thorns. To avoid this, choose plants that are harmless and pleasant to look at.
Draw your attention to:
- chamaecyparis (emits phytoncides revitalizing the air, its "needles" are soft and will not cause any harm);
- lemon (emits essential oils with bactericidal properties);
- sansevieria (cleans the air, collects dust);
- chlorophytum (releases phytoncides, destroys pathogenic microorganisms).
Since people do not sleep or eat in this room, but rather spend a very limited amount of time during the day, the choice of plants for the living room is almost endless. However, it is worth paying attention to the plants that produce loads of oxygen and moderately humidify the air, as the living room is often a nice place to host guests. If you put flowers close to each other, making a small greenhouse or a living corner, they can create a microclimate with a favorable effect.
Ficuses will do well near a window, monstera and philodendrons – in a darker part of a room. Monstera is known to actively absorb oxygen and produce carbon dioxide at night, so it is not recommended to keep it in bedroom. However, if you do not sleep in the living room, it will not do any harm if placed there.
The kitchen will accept unpretentious and sturdy plants. Those with dense, leathery leaves are suitable, because it is easier to wash off grease from them. Plants that can quickly clean the air from harmful impurities would also be helpful. Here's a list of green candidates for your kitchen:
- epipremnums (scindapsus aureus);
- stonecrops (crassula);
- nolinoideae (beaucarnea).
Chlorophytum is the leader of air purification and humidification. It is even kept on spaceships, where it is impossible to ventilate rooms. If you have plastic furniture or a gas stove – this kind of plant will definitely serve you well.
Corridor or bathroom
It's hard to believe, but some plants can feel great even in areas with very little sunlight. You just need to buy a phytolamp and light it from time to time. You can also place sun-loving plants that require high humidity in a bathroom with a window:
The following plants will fit perfectly in a bathroom without windows or in a hallway:
- aspidistra (not afraid of draughts),
- begonia (unpretentious, tolerates lack of sunlight),
- cissus antarctica.
You can choose a special plant for every corner of the house. All you need is patience, imagination and desire. Nice interior and psychological recreation – all in one.
Interaction with the plant world as a source of positive human functioning, S. K. Nartova-Bochaver, E. A. Mukhortova, B. D. Irkhin https://publications.hse.ru/articles/340985188
Responsive flora https://iq.hse.ru/news/416263459.html
How to choose home flowers and plants