THEY were once regarded as solely decorative features of our homes, dotted around to improve the aesthetics and on occasion - in centuries past - to act as status symbols. But new research has found that the humble house plant is now helping to relieve the stress of lockdown.


Plants are helping out in the pandemic?

Researchers at the University of Seville in Spain have found that plant lovers are coping better during lockdown than others, with the conclusion being that having pot plants in the home is beneficial to mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders.


What did the researchers look at specifically?

The Spanish team focused on lockdown life, with more than 4,200 people from 46 countries asked to fill out a questionnaire about their experiences during the initial 2020 lockdown, detailing how long they had been cooped up for and how it impacted them. They were also asked to describe their home environment, including outdoor spaces and the number of plants owned.


It was conclusive?

Out of the 4,205 respondents, 75 per cent claimed having plants had a positive impact on their emotional wellbeing. Meanwhile, people who did not have any plants (3.3%) were more likely to experience negative emotions during lockdown. Half of respondents - 54% - also said they had spent more time tending to their plants during lockdown and 40% of survey respondents said they wanted to have more plants at home in the future.


Plant positivity!

Co-author Luis Pérez-Urrestarazu, a professor at the School of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Seville, said that during the “confinement period” of lockdowns, deprived from freely visiting open green spaces, “having indoor plants was correlated with more positive emotions, and confined inhabitants allocated more time for plant maintenance”.


House plants are historic home features?

The practice of indoor gardening with potted plants is said to date back to the early Greeks and Romans. Older Egyptian, Indian and Chinese civilisations also used potted plants, but generally in outdoor areas and courtyards. 


They had a multitude of purposes?

Even before they were known as houseplants, flowering plants were placed inside so their blooms and scents could be enjoyed. Some were also regarded as status symbols, such as the citrus tree, seen as the ultimate plant to own in the 17th century, with greenhouses and orangeries built to protect them.


The trend continued from there?

According to National Trust historians, the fashion for houseplants reached its peak in the 19th century as increasing numbers of tropical and sub-tropical plants were brought back from around the world. These included the aspidistra, first introduced from China in 1823.


The impact of nature on wellbeing is well known?

Professor Pérez-Urrestarazu said: "Previous studies have concluded that contact and interaction of humans with nature has a positive impact on their health and well-being.Our study shows that, according to the majority of participants, vegetation in indoor living spaces positively influenced their emotional well-being during the confinement period."