The hypothesis of biophilia suggests there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems, including plant life. American biologist, researcher, naturalist and author, Edward O. Wilson, introduced the world to this study in 1984 when he defined biophilia as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life.”
Many green industry professionals not only promote beauty when selling plants but also the health benefits for the consumer that are a result of the interaction between plants and humans. Placing plants in different areas of your living spaces generates positive health benefits.
Plants in the home
From succulents and kitchen herbs to spider plants and Gerbera daisies, many types of indoor plants can improve your health. House plants produce oxygen but also improve our mood by just being there.
Humidity increases in areas where plants are placed, which can prevent illness. Respiratory infections and conditions like dry skin often occur in areas with less humidity. Adding several plants to a living area can prevent these types of illnesses.
Licking County Farm Bureau member Nick McCullough, owner of McCullough’s Landscape & Nursery, manages multiple home gardens along with his own nursery and Ohio’s largest peony farm.
Many of his clients have a desire to reconnect with nature. “We market as reconnecting your home with nature through highly customized gardens,” McCullough said.
Studies by NASA proved that certain houseplants can filter the air and rid it of toxins. These studies were to assist in finding ways to purify space stations, but they found that plants create cleaner air in enclosed spaces including office buildings where air circulation is limited.
The studies of biophilia also show that plants can put you in a better mood at work, leading to a more productive work day. This is also a great benefit to having plants in your home as well.
By growing your own plants at home you can save in your wallet and around your waistline. Planting produce at home from seeds will save money and will create fresh food for most of the summer. Many items that come from the garden can also be canned and stored for the winter months. Eating fresh vegetables and fruits from your garden is healthy, too.
On a larger scale, plants are being used to help create a recycled rainwater system in one historic building. What used to be the Lazarus Department store in downtown Columbus is now an office building that houses a rooftop garden that also supplies water for use right in the building. Educational tours are given of the rooftop garden throughout the summer.
Robert Turrin, Lazarus building manager, takes pride in the garden and the resources it provides. “Once the rain hits the garden it soaks in the sponge-like base, which then goes into a 40,000 gallon cistern in the basement,” he said.
A 1/3-acre garden was installed in 2006. There was a membrane put onto the existing roof along with a root barrier, insulation, drainage mats and the vegetation. This garden not only provides a small habitat for animals in the city and a nice view, but it also collects that rainwater for use in the building’s toilets.
Outdoor benefits for children
With all the distractions and indoor activities for children in today’s society, Lori Williams, park director at Wilmington Parks and Recreation, is helping create fun and exciting ways to get children outdoors.
Williams is involved with the “No Child Left Indoors” program sponsored by the Clinton County Green Alliance. Throughout the year, children attend events such as the Salamander Hike, the Owl Prowl, monarch tagging and the birding program.
“It’s critical for kids to be educated about nature. Some don’t even know what’s in their own neighborhood (or) their own yard,” Williams said. “We are really just trying to get kids up close and personal with nature so they think that it is naturally part of the world.”
Williams encourages parents to sign their children up for events by telling them to teach their kids to be full of wonder. She was inspired to get involved in promoting the outdoors after reading studies about children diagnosed with ADHD and how nature can help ease their symptoms.
“Our message to parents is ‘You’re doing a great job by bringing your kids out for these experiences.’ It’s important to hold the hands of the adults and really encourage them to keep doing things to get their kids outdoors.” l
Photo by Amanda Domsitz: Nick McCullough of McCullough’s Landscape & Nursery tends to a residential garden in New Albany.