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Vol. 20 No. 4 - October 2014

Interior Plantscaping for Cozy and Healthy Indoor Environment

By: Shilpi Singh and R.K. Roy*

People, as a part of daily life, are exposed to two different kinds of environment viz. indoor and outdoor. The indoor environment is comprised of different components viz. artificial light, furniture, carpets, curtains, cabins, rooms, halls and other enclosed spaces. There is virtually no availability of natural light and fresh air in indoor. In contrast, outdoor environment is having natural light, free air, dust, pollutants and lot of open space. Both the conditions are very contrasting and have their merits and demerits. We are very much aware about the outdoor environmental pollution and accordingly take precautions also. Indoor environment quality is often ignored and presumed safe.

The urban working population of India spends about 60-70% time of a day in indoor and 30-40% time in outdoor. Unfortunately, they are not much aware and worried about the interior environmental quality. When we are indoor, we feel satisfied that the environment is clean. However, in fact indoor air quality may be inferior and presence of pollutants is also there. As per report, air inside sealed energy efficient building is 10 times more polluted than outdoor. Therefore, interior environment have significant effects on our health and well-being.

There are several ways to improve interior air quality. Interior plantscaping is recognized world over as the most efficient mechanism to create cozy and healthy environment. Interior plantscaping has various styles which suits to every situation. Moreover, a set of plants is specifically recommended for such purpose.

Benefits of healthy environment by interior plantscaping

Various scientific studies have been conducted throughout the world for defining benefits and quantum assessment of cleansing indoor air by interior plantscaping besides its cost effectiveness. The results significantly recommended that interior plantscaping as a most effective tool for creating healthy interior environment. The benefits of green plant therapy are summarized in the following headings.

Lowering of stress and negative feelings - Studies on reducing stress and related feelings by placing green plants in an aesthetic way inside office or any other enclosed environment have recorded significant reduction in tension / anxiety (37%), depression / dejection (55%), anger / hostility (44%) and fatigue (35%).

Improvement of productivity and performance - It has been found that productivity and performance of the work force in a production unit was increased by 10-15% when surrounding environment was made ambient by placing colourful plants. Moreover, increase in concentration and reduction in accidents was also recorded.

Reduction in sick building syndrome - The syndrome refers headache, fatigue, dry skin, throat congestion, eye irritation and lack of concentration. This problem is very prevalent in energy efficient buildings having sealed environment and lack of fresh air besides high concentration of toxic chemicals. It is estimated that the pollution inside is 10 times more than the air outside. Such buildings when contains indoor house plants helps in reducing sick building syndrome by reducing level of toxin, increase in supply of oxygen and mood enhancement.

Lower background noise - Enclosed spaces filled with plants displayed systematically helps to reducing background noise by 5 decibels. Plants with their leaves either absorb or reflect noise and makes the environment more cosy for the occupants.

Improvement Well-being - Improvement in well-being in the work place / homes / hospitals has been recorded when indoor plants were placed in comparison to no plants. In such situations, reduction in stress, strain, improvement in speed and accuracy were observed. In another experiment conducted in Norway, it was observed that improvement of health of the employ in offices and schools besides patients in hospitals when they were put into a green environment. Studies in USA and United Kingdom showed that simple visual exposure to plants help to reduce blood pressure and stress within 5 minutes. Human eyes can perceive more shade of green than any other colour. The green colour triggers a response in the nervous system to relief tensions in the blood vessels and thus lowers the blood pressure. Not only that, greens lowered heart rate and anxiety resulting an instant feeling of calmness and recovery.

Ambiance at working place - Offices / work places well decorated with house plants in various pattern (plants in stands / hangers / window sill) creates an overall ambiance to the working people resulting improvement in efficiency and greater job satisfaction.

Improvement of creativity - It has also been observe that people working in an environment duly decorated by various kinds of plants increase creativity by 15%.

Biophilia - This refers natural affinity of human beings towards nature. Work places / living rooms / buildings displayed with selected plant species aesthetically helps to develop biophilic connection of plants resulting all round wellness, less health problem, less absenteeism and productivity gains.

Improvement of indoor air quality - Selected indoor plants in a proper way in propionate number to the overall floor area functions as sink and improved air quality by reducing presence of CO2, temperature and inducing cooling effects. As per recommendation, one well grown potted house plant per 3 employees is required for efficient improvement in indoor air quality.

Reduction in interior pollutants and clean air - The household toxins viz. formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, toluene, ammonia, trichloroethylene besides dust particles, allergic particles and other indoor pollutants usually come out from the furniture, curtains, carpets, paper wastes, photocopier and computers. These make the interior air polluted.

Various experiments conducted worldwide have suggested placing of indoor plants which can reduce / absorb all these pollutant and make the interior air clean and breathable.

Styles of Interior Plantscaping

There are different standardized styles for using plants in interior plantscaping. The main purpose is to create a comfortable and clean indoor environment. Accordingly, the style needs to be modified to suit the physical structures of the interiors. The major styles are furnished below along with structural requirement.

Plants in containers - Several types of plant holders are available accommodating single to multiple pots for display purpose. These may be used for various purposes according to the need.

Plants in racks - This is another modification of display in containers having various labels and multiple numbers of pots.

Plants in hanger - If there is no sufficient floor space, the plants may be displayed in the hangers.

Vertical gardening - Vertical gardening is a special kind of indoor gardening suitable to small spaces particularly for decorating the walls and other unused interior spaces in various manners. This system of gardening is so adjustable that it can be molded according to the needs and space to beautify with the help of plants and special structures.

A list containing top twenty plant species recommended for interior plantscaping is furnished below:

Agave angustifolia ‘Marginata’ (Caribbean Agave), Areca lutescens (Areca Palm), Aspidistra elatior ‘Variegata’ (Cast-iron Plant), Cycas revoluta (Sago Palm), Epipremnum aureum (Golden Pothos), Ficus benjamina ‘Nuda’ (Weeping Fig), Ficus elastica (Rubber Plant), Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig), Neoregelia spectabilis (Fingernail Plant), Nephrolepis tuberosa (Boston Fern), Peperomia obtusifolia (Peperomia), Philodendron bipinnatifidum (Heart Leaf Philodendron), Polyscias balfouriana ‘Marginata’ (Balfour Aralia), Portulacaria afra (Jade Plant), Raphis excelsa (Broadleaf Lady Palm), Ruscus hypoglossum (Mouse Thorn), Sansevieria trifasciata (Snake Plant), Schefflera actinophylla (Queensland Umbrella Tree), Spathiphyllum wallisii (Peace Lily) and Syngonium podophyllum (Goosefoot Plant).

 

*Botanic Garden, Floriculture & Landscaping Division, CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, India, roynbri@rediffmail.com


This article has been reproduced from the archives of EnviroNews - Newsletter of ISEB India.


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