Now is a good a time as any to invest in the humble houseplant and their outdoor cousins, writes Jennifer Wallis
The health benefits of plants, and having them in your home and garden, have long been documented. Not only can a colourful flower bed bring much needed cheer to a somewhat gloomy time, having plants in our homes can also reap great psychological wellbeing rewards.
According to The Royal Horticultural Society (RSH) website "the greatest benefits of indoor plants are through wellbeing and productivity improvement". More and more offices, particularly the modern, co-working spaces, incorporate plants as standard.
As some of us embark on our twelfth week of working from home and as we spend more time exploring the nature that we have on our doorsteps - whether that be our gardens and the local parks or nearby forest and woodland - we've likely formed a deeper appreciation for it. COVID-19 has brought with it a new set of challenges when it comes to working from home, not least the fact that we are in our homes for prolonged periods of time, so it's as good a reason as ever to invest in the humble houseplant and their outdoor cousins.
With the help of lovethegarden.com, we have compiled a handy list of their top eight recommended plants, their health benefits and how easy they are to care for - great tips for those among us who aren't so green fingered.
Not only do they look pretty cool, the gel contained inside the stems of this succulent has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy. The gel is also excellent for treating skin conditions and burns.
The dark green leaves give this plant a sophisticated edge as well as producing beautiful white blooms. The peace lily is purported to cleanse the air of harmful toxins, thus promoting better breathing.
Also known as mother-in-law's tongue (perhaps due to its sharp, swordlike leaves?), this is a great addition to your collection especially to your bedroom. It removes harmful formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and benzene from the air aiding a more restful night's sleep, which in turn will lead to better productivity in the working day.
When we think of dandelions, images that spring to mind involve fluffy little seeds being blown across the lawn as a child (much to our parents dismay) or of annoying yellow weeds. But they have been used for years as a medicinal herb as they are said to contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant which prevents cells from damage and help to lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, help digestion and detoxify the liver.
This herb is usually used as a staple in our Sunday dinners - who hasn't added it to their roast potatoes or leg of lamb? As well as smelling great it's also said to be a source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Researchers at Northumbria University found in studies on people over 65 years of age that the herb helped to improve their memory.
St. John's Wort
St John's Wort is widely available in pharmacies and health shops in tablet and capsule form as an aid to improving mood and easing anxiety. Particularly good in our current situation. If you grow the plant at home you can brew up the flowers to make tea. One thing to note is that it can interact with other medicines, it's widely known to affect the contraceptive pill so women take note, unless you're up for a surprise COVID baby, so it's wise to speak to your GP or a health professional before using.
This plant isn't too fussy about whether it's placed inside or out. Outside it looks great as it can climb and spread across trellis in the garden climbing to heights of 50ft or more giving it a rustic, secret garden feel. Placed inside it's another great air purifier as it's said to remove air-borne molds and formaldehyde from indoor air. It's even said that it can ease asthma, coughs and other lung problems.
The impressive orange bloom of the marigold is a bright addition to any garden, the colour orange is even said to promote optimism and help with depression. It's also a natural insect repellent, which is fantastic for those of us who seem to be the main target of those pesky mosquitoes as we sit outdoors and enjoy the longer, warm evenings.