Plants are more than just home decor. Many of the tropical plants cultivated to be grown indoors have incredible healing properties. Humans have adapted in line with and amongst nature. And our bodies continue to respond to plants in a multitude of ways!
Attention Restoration Theory (ART) and Evolutionary psychologists hold that where the constructed environment exhausts brain capacity, the visual and chemical properties of plants restore it. Humans have not evolved to cope with the sensory overload of man-made products, but in conjunction with nature. This has made us intrinsically compatible with natural patterns and signs of nature.
Although all plants are restorative, some are more so than others, due to qualities such as colour, pattern distribution and texture. For example, studies have shown that fractal patterns have a marked influence on participants’ ability to focus on a task.
Below are 5 of the best plants to aid tranquillity and calm.
A large-leaved beauty. This tropical and calming, long-life and easy care Calathea comes with the added bonus of air purifying qualities: a natural humidifier and absorber of toxins.
Why it works: in studies, plants with fractal patterns have the most significant affect on participants ability to carry out tasks, indicating these plants are best at focusing our mind. Fractal patterns are repeated markings which could continue infinitely. This Calathea's leaves are a prime example. Lines curve outwards from the leaves tip, getting longer and longer the further down the leaf we go. Pop one of these in your study or sitting room and see if it keeps your mind from straying off course.
A rare Philodendron from the tropical rain-forests of South America.
Why it works: Kaplan and Kaplan (1959) make clear it's not only about specific properties, but about signifying abundance, and a diverse and healthy habitat when it comes to plants and wellbeing. The Squamiferum with its lush green leaves, marked with continuous lines and its fuzzy red vines send signals that we're in a healthy environment.
Monkey Mask Monstera | Monstera Adansonii
A wild and free growing variety from the Monstera family, ready to be tamed in your home, or left to grow wild!
Why it works: like the Squamiferum, the Monkey Mask, with its relatively speedy growth habit signifies 'jungle.' In contrast to the tidy Aspidistras of yore, these houseplants will bring your interior to life, and subconsciously make us feel at ease in our surroundings.
Marble Queen Pothos | Epipremnum aureum 'Marble Queen'
A vigorous and strong Pothos plant or Devil's Ivy, with marble variegation in greens and yellows.
This beautiful Hoya produces variegated leaves that feature shades of green, white and pink. It's stupendously hardy as long as you don't overwater it or leave it in sunlight. It's thick, waxy leaves hold a lot of water, so never drench it. It's a long-life plant - they've been known to live for decades, so if you're after a green friend for life, this is the one!
Why they work: This list would not be complete without trailing plants! Whether you hang them up overhead, pop them on a mantelpiece or guide them along a wall, they're a great way of making you feel surrounded by nature.
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