But why do we have that calm respect for plants? No one ever told us that a bundle of leaves on a TV cabinet means you’re calm or have your act together, or smell like incense all the time.
We just know these things instinctually. For some reason we seek out plants.
What do plants do though?
Most plants breathe out a little carbon dioxide at night, and a lot of oxygen during the day. As your doctor, yoga teacher and lungs can tell you, oxygen is a big deal. It makes you better at everything.
It helps to have pure air, too. Plants can eat up your noxious chemicals and replace it with clear, delicious O2. These things are magic.
But the real secret ingredient is humidity. The moisture that comes from plants will take the dry edge off your house’s air and help, well, moisturise you. If the place is really dry, you’ll find yourself humidifying your house to keep them alive. It’s the best thing since SkinB5 Moisturising Cream.
As far as what they do? Not much. They won’t prowl around like cats and you can’t teach them to do tricks. If you’re looking for companionship, aren’t plants about as much company as pet rocks?
Well, about that …
Plants are correlated with an increase in mental health, attention and energy. So yeah, I do think I’m so good just because I have plants in my house.
What plant should I get?
It’s easy to point to your schedule and the light in your apartment, and say your dingy kitchen could use a peace lily or your well-lit bedroom is perfect for ferns. But I’m not big on shoulds, they’re too pragmatic and predictable. Here’s how to really choose a plant:
Go to a nursery.
Get lost. Follow the shapes and the foliage. Forget about everything else.
Get to know the ones you like. This is a crash course, and nature is your teacher.
Really, they’ll all purify the air and get you looking fresh. Just follow your heart and find something you like. There are succulents, bright plants, leafy plants, aloe cacti that can fix chilli burns.
But since you’re here for supple skin, here are some popular indoor plant and what they do.
Staphyphilli are awesome. They live in partial shade. If you water them after they go floppy, they grow faster. The dingiest of office jobs makes them stronger, and sometimes they sprout long silky flowers to really rub in how well they do in dismal conditions.
Little palm trees for your house and complete drama llamas. If you don’t give them the perfect amount of light, one food might go yellow.What happens, it can kill the whole plant. They can be a nice challenge and they make you feel like a pharaoh. Face swap with your cat next to one if you want to pretend you’re the Sphinx.
I’m putting bamboo plants in this section, because they have spiny leaves and do a great job purifying the air.
Also named mother-in-law’s tongue, probably by your loud uncle. This plant does the opposite of other plants - it breathes out oxygen at night and let's go its carbon dioxide during the day. It’s great for bedrooms. The catch: This plant lives in the more well-lit side of partial shade, so you’ll have to open those blinds.
These things are living beings. If anyone pokes fun because you have to get home for your plants, or you need someone to babysit your ficus, deep down they know you’re right. There’s something sacred about having a friend that breathes life into your skin and doesn’t eat the lounge cushions.
Peter Matthews is a freelance writer and basically the indoor plant version of a cat lady. He lives in Melbourne and drinks plenty of water.
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