Now, I’m not talking just about the intermittent bouquet from your significant other on special occasions. I’m talking about those, and a whole lot more.

I have always been a fan of flowers, plants and gardening. I grew up on a farm and love to grow food and herbs to eat, and eating what you grow comes with a lot of satisfaction -- and flavor.

And there is no joy like the feeling that comes from watching a brightly colored bloom develop, open and face the sun.

I think I started realizing my true obsession when the pandemic hit and we all found the desperate need to find joy in the little things. I also started spending a lot more time at home, and in my home, as fall and winter came around.

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While working a long day from my home office, couch or bed, it always lifts my spirits to look up and spot the bright green leaves of a house plant or bloom of a flower.

A recent joke about house plants being “useless” was made within my earshot the other day and got me thinking about how useful plants really are. It sent me on an internet hunt to see what the benefits of these bits of petals, leaves and roots really are.

In my link clicking, I came across an article from Healthline called “7 Science-Backed Benefits of Indoor Plants,” which really expanded my understanding of how wonderful house plants are.

First, researchers found that plants in a home or office can make you feel more comfortable and soothed. When study participants completed an indoor gardening task, stress responses were lowered, whereas a computer task caused a spike in heart rate and blood pressure. Researchers concluded that working with plants could reduce both physiological and psychological stress.

Second, they discovered that while no positives were found from having photos of plants or fake plants in a room, students who studied with real, live plants in a classroom were more attentive and better able to concentrate.

Third, the article mentions how researchers have used horticultural therapy to increase feelings of well-being among people with depression, anxiety, dementia and other conditions.

Fourth, research revealed that by having plants in their rooms, people recuperating from surgery needed less pain medication and had shorter hospital stays than those who weren’t looking at greenery during their recovery periods.

Fifth, multiple studies found that plants in the workspace increase both productivity and creativity. According to the article, one frequently cited study from 1996 found that students in a campus computer lab worked 12% faster and were less stressed when plants were placed nearby. Other studies found that people with more plants in their workspace took fewer sick days and were more productive on the job.

Sixth, when researchers interviewed over 440 Amazon employees in the U.S. and India, they found those with more natural elements like indoor plants in their offices felt greater job satisfaction and more commitment to the organization than those who didn’t work around natural elements. They said the natural elements helped to buffer the effects of job stress and anxiety.

Seventh, plants help to improve the quality of indoor air and increase oxygen levels in the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen during photosynthesis. According to a Seattle Times article, you can maximize your benefits by placing plants "in your 'breathing zone,' within 6 to 8 square feet of where you normally sit or lie."

While the science definitely helps back up my claims, to me it’s clear to see and feel for yourself once you give it a try. As humans, we have a strong connection to nature and if the outdoors makes us more content, calmer and focused, then why not bring the outdoors inside?

Also, the act of caring for plants is a major stress and anxiety reliever for me. It gives me something to monitor and nurture -- a lot of pleasure and satisfaction comes along with that.

So, next time you see a good deal on a potted plant, bring it home or to your office and give it a go. Being a master gardener is not required, and many plants are extremely low maintenance -- so don’t stress about that part. When you’re taking care of your plant, slow down and take a deep breath, touch its leaves and enjoy the beauty and peace that comes from the process.

We can’t control much in this world, but we are very much in control of how many plants we let grace the threshold of our living space. So, I say, the more the merrier!

Annalise Braught is the editor and a photographer at the Pioneer. She can be reached at (218) 358-1990 or [email protected].

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