The Benefits of Plants in Interior Spaces - RFF

via my Flickr :)

Welcome to another Research Finding Friday (RFF).

This week, I would like to share an article about how foliage plants affect indoor air quality. On some level, we all know this to be true. But it's nice to reinforce our gut feelings with some concrete evidence. The intention of sharing this article is to remind us that plants/nature is important to indoor spaces and therefore to interior design schemes as well.

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Lohr, V, I. and Pearson-Mims, C, H. (1995). Particulate Matter Accumulation on Horizontal Surfaces in Interiors: Influence of Foliage Plants. Atmospheric Environment, 30(14), p.2565-2568.

The researchers felt that there was a lot of information out there about how outdoor vegetation improves the air quality of that environment. However, not enough research existed to examine whether that was also true for indoor environments. More specifically, they wanted to know if plants would affect particulate matter accumulation in indoor spaces. Particulate matter is a mixture of solid and liquid particles found in the air, the most common being dust, dirt, soot and smoke. The danger of this type of pollution is that the particles are easily inhaled and can cause respiratory and other health related problems. If plants could help reduce this accumulation then they could conclude that plants are a benefit to the air quality and inhabitants of interior spaces.

What did they do? They added and removed low-light tolerant foliage plants* from two different indoor environments (a single office space and a computer lab). They measured the particulate matter accumulation on horizontal surfaces via collection dishes placed around the rooms (12 for each space). They compared results between the two conditions (with or without plants).

The results showed that particulate matter accumulation in rooms with plants was significantly lower than in rooms without plants. They also found that humidity was higher in rooms with plants but only by a very small difference.

*Aglaonema sp., Chamaedorea seifrizii, Dracaena marginata, Epipremnum aureum, and Spathiphyllum sp.

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image link

"Nature doesn't need Us, but We need Nature". I read that somewhere, but can't remember where. Anyhow, clearly, it stuck with me. It's a humbling and profound statement. It puts things in perspective. As a lover of the city, I'm sometimes not as close to nature as I should be. I realize that now since I have been living for a few weeks on a farm in the middle of nowhere in Northern Germany. Nothing but trees and fields and big birds and deer. Life is much slower here. It's a nice change of pace - even though it would not be my ideal permanent location.

So when I came across this article today, I thought to myself, even though I'm quite gifted at killing plants, I should try harder. I should have more plants in my apartment. My connection to nature and my indoor air quality would both benefit. It seems I may even be able to dust less often! I just have to put more love into it. Because, if there is a place where we can benefit from the goodness of nature, it's in the city.

Do you have plants in your home or office? What's the main reason you keep plants? Do you get along with them? Do you find they enhance your interior scheme?

Happy weekend to you all.
Xx. Holly.


  1. Hello lovely :)

    Sparkle & I say hi to you, reminding you that you can be so good with plants yourself, like when you offered that little guy a chance to live here.

    Your gesture shows not only that you value my love for nature & strong relationship with it (expressed both with my choice to live close enough to a big city like Frankfurt but closer to woods when stepping out of the door is considered + the fact that a little extended plant family is inhabiting our home) but that you also share a love for it, too.

    So yes, also respecting your love for life in the city, I must say that it is us that need nature & are benefiting from, rather than the other way around.

    Bring new plants to your current home, it will only add to a healthier atmosphere while "waking up" the interior.

    And as for your need to settle down, I completely understand. Still having moved a few times on my own in my life, I must say that the feeling of being at home sources from deep inside and has little to do with whether we own a place or not, or how long we are staying at a place. Wherever I have been through the past 10 years of my life, I have always been setting up a home. Probably cause it's easier for me to enjoy every day life.

    After all, who can predict the future? It is in the present that you'll be finding this essence of home, despite current facts.

    And you must have heard this proverb, perhaps?

    "Nothing is more permanent than impermanence"

    Home is a notion right there inside you & you may begin getting in touch with it right now.

    Perfect architectural environments that presume quite possibly large amounts of money to be accomplished could be but are not always where home is.

    Home is where the heart is and that can be anywhere, anytime.

    It's an attitude. And since you have begun longing for it, you shall find it my friend. You will.

    Much love,
    Iro [the Ivy lover ;)]

  2. Great post! I've practically filled my office desk with plants and find the extra oxygen does wonders keeping me live and kicking from day to day!

  3. That was exactly what I needed, Holly!!! Super duper!! I have two plants in my apartment but plan to add some more greenery this season cause I love the calming, natural atmosphere of interiors with plants.

  4. I am a big fan of flowers and try to by a small bunch each week. But, you know, I need to invest in some plants, as you and the article suggest above. I have one plant in the house right now - an orchid. I have actually managed to get it to bloom twice now (I am very pleased about that fact ;). But, I need more plants. Hm, may have to do some plant shopping this weekend.
    Have a really great weekend, Holly!

  5. Thanks for your comments guys! And for sharing your interior plant experiences. Plants are key indeed, I have to be better at it ;)

    Wishing you all a lovely day Xx.

  6. Sorry to be late to this party and a great post...

    Iro-Ivy Everything you said is so right. It's not about ownership or rental or big or small. It's about creating a little niche one can call home and that can be anywhere....

    What came up for me lately is that I thought I had fallen out of love with my home. It's a bit like relationships. it needs constant work and emotional investment. I also notice that when that happens it's more a reflection on me and what's going on inside... so off I went and decided to have my flat featured in a magazine. I spring cleaned, re-jigged stuff and now I am back in love with my home! On Friday I had my tearrce jet sprayed welcoming spring ( of course, now they have announced a spell of cold weather).

    Flowers and plants are one way of creating a home's environment and I try to buy myself flowers every week.

    This research is very interesting because I've often felt that having indoor plants is not good for my health. I think there are different studies out there regarding the humidity, fungal exposure etc. it's encouraging to read this here.

    Having said all that, I'm quite rubbish and don't seem to have green fingers. Theresa, congratulations on making the orchid bloom twice. That's no mean feat. I would.ike to experiment more with plants. On my roof terrace I've started growing herbs and have managed to keep them alive for over a year. yah!

    Only the other day I was talking to a friend who has an allotment and asked him whether he thought I could grow some vegetables on my terrace. Part of me would love to be better because I definitely think that's a missing link for me living in the city. That and to be near water.

    'Nature doesn't need us is so true!!! We need Nature and I know I don't make enough use of it.
    Thank you Holly for a great post and a reminder to take in more nature in the city. xx

    1. Tina :) What a lovely comment!

      It seems some plants aren't good for your health ... maybe I should do some research on that to follow up next week. Thanks forgetting the brain wheels turning!

      Good job with the herbs Tina! I bet they look lovely in your planters too ;)

      Water. Yes. There was a time (young Holly) when if you asked me whether I'd prefer to live in the forest or by the sea, I would have said forest. Since ten years or so, that has changed to sea.

      Well, here's to all of us being good to our homes and selves with a bit of nature via those lovely things called plants Xx.

  7. Argh, Holly - I LOVE plants and I manage to kill them always. How about that? I'm better off with cut flowers as they will wither anyway and I don't feel too bad about that. Plants are getting big in interiors again aren't they - it's the whole seventies thing again that I love (as a child of that era). x

    1. Ursula, you're so right! Everyone is going especially terrarium crazy! But it's ok. Injecting life into spaces can not really be a bad thing. But I'm like you, a real plant killer, lol! I am determined to get better.

      Thanks for stopping by Xx.