In the midst of frequently gloomy winters in Southeastern Wisconsin, homeowners benefit from adding touches of “life” inside when there seems to be none outside. The increasingly unpredictable weather patterns take away the snow that only temporarily beautifies the dormant landscaping, stripped to a dull, uninspired environment. Evergreens were the primary inspiration for Yuletide or mid-winter festivals throughout Europe, dating back to medieval times, the “ever green” celebrated as everlasting life and the promise of springtime renewal to come. In the absence of greenery and blooms outside during the winter months, homeowners can easily enhance their living environment, mood and actual quality of life by adding “life” indoors.

Many cultures have celebrated the value of incorporating nature into daily life, as well as the benefits of bringing life in the forms of plants into the home. The Chinese discipline of Feng Shui is based on the concept of linking man’s destiny to its environment. It’s home design principles are often used as a guide to bring harmony and good fortune, with all kinds of plants thought to contribute to the positive flow of energy throughout the home. Aside from ancient cultural traditions and practices, modern psychology studies have pointed to the positive impact of nature on the human condition and even specific psychological benefits of indoor plants, gained through passive interactions.

The following are some of the amazing benefits attributed to incorporating indoor plants in the home:

  • Improved Health: Many indoor plants work as natural air-purifiers, and NASA has identified certain species that are most effective at filtering environmental toxins. Studies have also found that plants promote healing; patients recover more quickly from surgery, have lower blood pressure and lower ratings of pain when hospital room has flowers and plants in them.
  • Mood elevators: Researchers have identified a soil microbe naturally found in plant soil as an “outdoorphin”, which acts as a natural anti-depressant. Additionally, studies have shown that merely looking at plants reduces levels of anxiety and promote a sense of calm.
  • Improved sleep: The calming nature of plants combined with the air purification qualities lead to better sleep. It is also beneficial to choose a houseplant for the bedroom that continues to release oxygen during the night, as many plants do not.
  • Improved concentration: Studies on environmental psychology have shown that the presence of plants in an office setting improves focus and concentration. This correlates with several studies on exposure to naturalistic environments, greenery and foliage in particular, having regenerative effects for directed attention.

The best way to maximize the benefits of houseplants is to strategically place them in the most heavily utilized rooms, such as the kitchen, family room and bedroom. Local florists and garden centers have such a vast array of houseplants and creative planters, and a few simple “living” additions to your custom home may significantly enhance your quality of life.