Research conducted at Washington State University indicates that there is an interaction between plants and people that improves health and productivity.

Studies show that people perform better and have lower blood pressure when plants are around. Compare how you feel in the months that we have the visual of greenery and plants growing compared to the bland landscape we have entered into.

Productivity increased 12% when people performed a simple task on a computer in a room with plants, compared with workers who performed the same task in the same room without plants. The task was stressful. Blood pressure for both groups rose during the task, but only two points for people tested with plants, while it rose four points for people tested without plants.

The blood pressure for both groups before the test was roughly the same. Additionally, the people tested in the presence of plants reported feeling 10% more attentive after the task than those tested without plants.

For the experiment, common low-light tolerant species of interior plants were added around the periphery of the room. Floor plants, table plants and hanging plants were added which gave the appearance of a well-designed, but not lush interior-scape.

Clearing the air

Plants were positioned so that clusters would be present in the peripheral view of each subject’s activities. In addition to the stress testing, relative humidity and dust particles were measured. When plants were present, air quality was better.

The WSU study pointed to evidence that suggests fewer colds occur in offices where plants are present. Research conducted by NASA disclosed that houseplants can remove up to 87% of air toxins in 24 hours.

The restrictions in place since COVID-19, and now its variants, began spreading have resulted in the need to become more creative in planning the at-home office space. One could also include school study space improvements.

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The idea of improving home office space with houseplants has become so popular it has created a high demand and short supply in many large metro areas. Holiday plant season has arrived with a variety of poinsettias available that have always been a traditional gift. Instead, this year why not consider giving a houseplant? It’s more permanent and requires less care.

Shopping tips

Central Oregon has many local garden nurseries that offer houseplants. Recently, a specialty shop offering houseplants relocated within the Bend area.

Plants are living things and aren’t perfect. A yellow leaf or a tear in a leaf doesn’t mean it is unhealthy. Your nursery or shop is happy to offer care advice when you purchase the plant.

A few tips when shopping for a plant would include not to touch the leaves. The oils on your fingers can cause damage. Remember to start small and with easy-care plants especially for anyone who if a first-timer. Exotic -looking plants are impressive but generally take more care. It is better to hold off on those until more confidence has built up.

Plants that tolerate low light are usually happiest near an east- or north-facing window. A few suggestions would be the Chinese evergreen, one of the best for poorly lit spaces; the cast-iron plant, low light and also drought tolerant; and the peace lily , one of the few plants that bloom reliably indoors.

Plants that prefer bright light do well in dappled sunlight but not direct sun. Favorites for bright light are the prayer plant, leaves curl up at night like hands folded in prayer. Dracaenas are best known for their long leaves that grow outward and up from a central stalk. They tolerate a wide variety of growing conditions. Trailing peperomia forms a compact bouquet of foliage. Sansevieria bears thick swordlike leaves and is admired for its tough nature, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue.

If you have curious pets, it would be wise to check the listing of the ASPA for plants that are toxic to cats and dogs.

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