Plants, plants, we love plants!
Besides being a piece of trendy decor and social media fad, plants do a lot for us. And as it turns out, we can (and should) do a lot for them too! Our relationships with our green friends isn’t a one-way garden path, but rather an example of mutualism that stretches far beyond the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen.
Don’t be-leaf me? Let’s delve into our magical relationship with plants, and how we can make them feel good as much as they do to us.
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The Power of Plants
Let’s not beat around the bush – we all know the incredible power that plants hold on boosting our mood. But just in case you need some reminding, here are some quick science-backed facts on just how wonderful plants are for our overall well-being:
- People who spend more time around plants have better mental health and a more positive outlook on life.
- Being surrounded by plants can lower your blood pressure.
- Workplace plants can lead to increased attentiveness and focus.
- Flowers and ornamental plants increase levels of positive energy and help you feel secure and relaxed.
- Tasks performed while under the calming influence of nature are performed better and with greater accuracy.
- Plants help boost your immune system.
- Phytoncides and other airborne chemicals from plants reduce anxiety. Plants provide a positive way for people to channel their stress into nurturing.
- Studies in Norway have shown that illnesses drop by 60% through the use of plants in the home.
- Spending time around plants increases your levels of compassion, and improves your relationships with others.
- Being outside in a natural environment can improve memory performance and attention span by 20%.
- Children who spend time around plants learn better. Plants also improve the ability of children with Attention Deficit Disorder to focus and engage more with their surrounding environment.
Plants Have Feelings (And Intelligence) Too!
It’s been a hotly debated topic amongst scientists for decades now – do plants have feelings?
While scientists haven’t been able to confirm that plants can feel emotions as humans do, some evidence has pointed to the fact that plants show signs of “sensing” their surroundings. Plant neurobiology, or plant perception, is a field of study that focuses on how plants can sense and respond to their environment to develop, prosper and reproduce in the best way possible.
While plants technically don’t have brains, or nervous systems, nor neuro-transmitting pain receptors, they can do some pretty smart things.
Just take the venus-fly trap, for example. This famous carnivorous plants can actually “count” up to at least 60. It keeps track of the number of times a struggling prey insect will trip the trigger hairs on the inside of its trap in the space of an hour. Not only can this creepily smart plant count far beyond your average 5-year old, but it’s also intelligent enough to produce only enough enzyme quantities proportionate to the size of its prey.
Besides these creepy facts that bring a whole new side to Little Shop of Horrors, plants can communicate with each other through chemical secretions and even socially interact for mutual health and safety.
I’m Rooting For You!
So if plants are so damn smart, are they intelligent enough for us to communicate with them?
On some level, it seems that yes, yes we can.
Scientific studies have shown us time and time again that talking to your plants does help them grow – especially if you’re a woman. Researchers at the Royal Horticultural Society found that plants grow faster to the sound of a female voice than to the sound of a male voice. In the study, tomato plants that had recordings of women reading literary or scientific works played to them grew an average of an inch taller than those attached to a male voice.
(Fun fact: the tomato that grew the most listened to the voice of Sarah Darwin, the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin.)
Another experiment by IKEA showed once again the power that the human voice has on plants. In this social experiment called Bully A Plant, two identical plants were set up in a school in the United Arab Emirates, receiving the same amount of light, nutrition and water. For 30 days, students were invited to compliment one plant and bully the other, their comments being fed through speakers rigged to the plant enclosures.
The result? Yup, you guessed it – the plant that received compliments was healthy and thriving, while its insult-riddled counterpart was wilted and noticeably droopy.
So next time your plant is looking a little more drab than usual, send some loving its way. Throw some compliments at your Delicious Monster about how her leaves are looking extra luscious today. Or tell your favourite prickly plant that he’s looking pretty fly for a cacti.
Your plant will appreciate it, and in return, it’ll take care of you too.