2020 has been a tough year for everyone’s mental health, with the precarious political landscape, global pandemic, and economic disturbance. Houseplants are
clearly the solution to all our problems obviously not a fix for these problems, and they are in no way a substitute for professional help when it comes to improving one’s mental health. However, on a personal level, I can say that houseplants have helped me through this tough period. For those who don’t know, Victoria has had one of the strictest and longest lockdowns globally, so I’ve been spending a lot of time at home. For me, the mental health benefits came from three main sources:
- Having something to care for and maintain on a regular basis, keeping me busy when I would surely otherwise be completely overrun by existential dread and the crushing uncertainty of life
- Seeing my care and attention being rewarded with plants’ growth
- Having greenery around in my space, which relieves stress.
With these in mind, and without any further ado, I’ll be listing my personal top 5 plants which promote mental wellbeing. These are in no particular order, as each plant provides a different benefit to mental health, so it all depends on what you’re looking for.
1. Peace Lily
As I’ve previously said, peace lilies have a certain calming, soothing presence to them. It’s hard to look at the dark green foliage of a peace lily and its sprays of white flowers of a peace lily that is looking its best, and get angry or agitated immediately afterwards. It’s difficult to understand if you have only seen photos of them, so I would suggest purchasing one for yourself if you have yet to do so. They’re inexpensive (unless you want to get one of those hybrid versions) for such beautiful plants. They grow quite quickly, though you might not notice because healthy peace lilies are already so full and lush. The flowers are also lovely to behold as a reward for taking care of the plant. Not to mention, they’re extremely easy to divide and share with a friend.
2. Monstera deliciosa
Monstera deliciosa trumps a lot of other houseplants in terms of speed of growth, though there are certainly other plants that grow faster. What really helps this plant make the list though is the fact that the leaves can get obscenely large very quickly. It definitely gives me that good serotonin when I see each new leaf growing in larger than the last one. It also feels like Christmas when you see the leaves slowly unravelling, because you’re always hoping for more fenestration. Besides, if you find yourself in a bit of a mental health slump, these bad boyes can go a while without any care, meaning that you won’t have to worry to much about them dying on you
Like the Monstera deliciosa, Pothos plants require very little care. They also vine very quickly, taking over a space in a matter of months if not weeks. They’re also extremely easy to propagate through cuttings so you can share them with your friends or plant lots of cuttings together to create a full look, rather than a vine-y tendril-y look. Pothos also comes in many different shapes and colours (with some varieties and cultivars being so similar that they’re almost impossible to tell apart, but let’s not get into that). In terms of introducing more greenery into your space, you can’t really beat the Pothos, because a mass of long Pothos vines in a single pot automatically fills a space with ~rainforest vibes~.
3. Cattleya orchids
Cattleya orchids are great for those who helicopter parent their plants as a coping mechanism (ie. me). They don’t grow particularly quickly, but the pay-off isn’t exactly in the speed of its vegetative growth. Instead, the pay-off for your care is in the beautiful flowers that emerge just once a year. I like to think the overall health of the flower produced is a reflection of the quality of care provided throughout the year, as orchids which have been neglected will refuse to flower and those that have been provided with great care will produce vibrant blooms that last for a while. Perhaps the most appealing thing about Cattleya orchids is their incredible fragrance, with the scent of a single flower being able to fill a whole room. There’s truly nothing better than waking up in the morning and having the first thing you register being the fragrance of an orchid.
5. Philodendron gloriosum
This seems like an odd choice, since these plants aren’t known for being especially fast growers like the Pothos, and they neither require helicopter parenting nor neglect. Nonetheless, this plant makes my list because its stunning, velvety leaves are just so beautiful to look at, and its sheer mass and growth patter makes it feel like its leaves are exploding outward from the pot and filling up a space completely. At first, I was none too happy with the space that it took up, because it would block out the light for other plants in my room, and the leaves were facing away from me all the time because I placed the plant close to my window, so I couldn’t enjoy them. Now I’ve found a spot where the plant is absolutely thriving and I get to see it at all times, and I must say that just seeing it grow and thrive has been an absolute joy.