Today marks the start of National Indoor Plant Week, when we celebrate the beauty of plants and the ways in which they enrich our lives.
Indoor plants help us breathe easier, stay connected to nature and minimize stress. Being surrounded by plants just helps us feel better—and the science backs that up!
In honor of National Indoor Plant Week, here are five things we'll bet you didn't know about indoor plants.
1. Growing plants indoors goes back to ancient times
In the ruins of Pompeii, researchers found much more than the well-preserved skeletons and homes of residents. They found the remains of indoor gardening—terra cotta pots that had the remnants of flowers and other plants.
It’s thought that Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar was among the first to “domesticate” plants by building his wife the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to help her feel less homesick.
2. The evolution of indoor heating changed the game
Before the early 1800s, most homes were too dark and cold for seedlings to survive inside. The Age of Technology changed that; homes became warmer and brighter with the advent of better-quality glass that allowed more sunlight indoors and warm stoves that replaced open fires.
3. Most common houseplants came from the tropics
That’s because they can easily thrive in warm indoor environments and grow during colder months. There are thousands of varieties of tropical indoor plants that can adapt to being grown inside. These include bromeliads (which dwell on rocks, the forest floor or trees in nature), succulents (which need very little water and thrive in bright sunlight) and Phalaenopsis orchids.
4. They are beneficial to our health
While ancient cultures grew plants indoors as a sign of wealth, today many plant lovers keep them in their homes not only for their beauty, but for their health benefits as well. They can reduce stress, reduce air pollution and allergens and reduce noise pollution emitted by household electronic devices.
5. Their meanings come from Victorian times
We know flowers and plants can be used to convey emotions like “I’m sorry” or “I love you.” They also can be used as symbols—orchids are often considered symbols of love, strength and beauty, for example. But how were their meanings selected?
The Victorians not only brought about the modern houseplant, they also assigned meanings to several of them. Plant lovers kept long lists of flowers and what they conveyed.
The next time you stop to water your indoor plants or admire the selection at your local florist, thank your ancestors for helping to domesticate them.
You can also celebrate National Indoor Plant Week by finding a new favorite plant for yourself and one for a friend!