Why Interior Tropical Plants?

One of my pet projects is developing our interior plant business. There are a few companies around that are selling and maintaining plants in offices, shopping malls, and places like that. Most are doing it as a service they sell, perhaps even riding a trend.  

I believe we are doing it for more altruistic reasons. Plants improve the interior environment. One of the reasons we run Verdant Landscape and Design Inc. Is to improve peoples’ lives by improving their environments.  

And no matter what you take from this note – indoor plants are just simply good for us – they help us with our physical and mental health. And they are super easy to grow. 

Plants help make offices more welcoming.


There is term often used called Biophilia. Biophilia, in my understanding of the term means simply a human wants to be around other living things. People have pets, house plants, flowers and other items in their home to make themselves feel better.  

Have you ever gone for a walk in a park and just felt relaxed? That is because you have immersed yourself in a bit of nature – trees, squirrels, flowers, birds and more. You have basked in their positive, living energy.  One of my favourite places for a short walk is around the Mill Pond here in Milton. 

Biophilia helps humans
Plants help us live well.

Indoor Forest Bathing

The Japanese have a term for this phenomenon, Shinrin-yoku. Shinrin means forest and yoku means bathing. There is an entire website dedicated to teaching people about forest bathing – Check it out, it is pretty fascinating. 

So why am I “ranting” about forest bathing in a newsletter about indoor plants? Well, it is all about bringing nature inside. I have heard designers talking about using Biophilic design concepts. I think it is absolutely fantastic that we are now understanding what humans NEED to survive and thrive in an indoor setting. 

I have a favourite supplier – Valleyview Greenhouses. We will go there just to walk around and soak in the positive energy from the plants. And buy 1 or 2 as well….

Valleyview Greenhouses.
A view from Valleyview Greenhouses!

There are all sorts of reasons to bring plants into a home, office or shopping area. According to research published by the US Environmental Protection Agency, we spend up to 90% of our time indoors. That is a fantastic number. And what do we have indoors? Painted surfaces, flooring, carpets, printers and copiers and so many other things “off gassing” some pretty horrible chemicals. 

Plants and the soil they grow in can act like a large filter removing carbon dioxide from the air and replacing it with oxygen through a process called photosynthesis. It would take a massive number of plants in a home or office to make a measurable change in oxygen levels, but, as they say, every little bit helps. 

NASA had a research project called the Clean Air Study that showed plants and the microorganisms that coexist with them can remove harmful chemicals from the indoor atmosphere. Now it is perfectly correct to say we need a large number of plants to make the cleaning of the air effective but every little bit helps. I read a suggestion that there be one 10” (pot size) plant for every 100 square feet of living or work space.  

Snake Plant.
Another great image of Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata) at Valleyview.

Feel Good Story

In my mind, the real reasons to have indoor plants are more psychological rather than physical. Plants simply make us FEEL good. They are colourful and they are ALIVE! They don’t bark or need their litter box emptied – they just need water from time-to-time. 

Plants have been proven to reduce stress. There have been some scientific studies done that demonstrate plants reduce stress. I read a summary of a study published in the Journal of Psychological Anthropology that plants in your home or office can make you feel soothed, comfortable and natural. We have been told by clients their staff have positive feelings around the plants they have. 

Another small study put people in a classroom with no plant, a photo of a plant, a fake (plastic) plant and a real plant. Brain scans showed the students exposed to the real plant were able to concentrate and were more attentive than the other students. As I am writing this, I have a clivia in full bloom within sight. Every once in a while I find myself staring at its blooms. 

The Clivia I was using for inspiration writing this post.

Horticulture as Therapy

Working with plants can be therapeutic. I was at a Landscape Ontario conference years ago where the guest speaker was from Disney. According to my memories of the presentation- over 30 years ago – Disney’s studies of the stress levels of their employees were lowest on their horticulture crews. There is an entire sector of our industry dedicated to directly helping people through Horticulture Therapy. Have a look at this site: 

Plants can help you heal easier. Studies have shown people who have greenery to look at post surgery heal faster and are out of the hospital faster that people who had bleak views. I remember visiting my mother (50 years ago) while she was in the Hamilton General with a beautiful view of the steel mills – not a happy place. I contrast that with the birthing room my kids were born in which overlooked a beautiful garden area. At the Milton hospital, near the diagnostics departments there is a glassed in courtyard with a really nice garden in it. 

Horticulture as therapy.

Plants help improve productivity. Many studies have shown plants improve productivity and creativity. People exposed to plants in their office took fewer sick days and were more productive at work. People whose workspace include natural elements such as plants had greater job satisfaction. Reasearch point to natural elements reducing job stress and anxiety. 

The results of a study done by the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy showed an increased inflow of people into a mall of nearly 25% using ONLY PLANTS. When coupled with other features such as water features, this increased even more. 

How interior plants improve the indoor experience.
A beautiful plant installation in Sweden.

I have heard much anecdotal evidence that stores with tropical plants in them have increased sales. Is it because people are more relaxed when they are around plants? Perhaps lingering in the store a little longer browsing and finding something else to purchase? Is it just that the store “looks nicer”? I am not sure but it all makes sense to me! 

If you have ever been to a Rainforest Café, you’ll know what I mean. Plants, aquaria, all sorts of natural elements. I’ve only been a couple of times but it was an experience? 

I was at a funeral home quite a few years ago. The main reception area was tastefully “done up” with stand alone plants. It was a peaceful and thoughtful space. They also had an aviary built in behind glass. It was full of brightly coloured finches. It really was a wonderful space. I observed grieving people lost in their thoughts looking at the plants and birds.  

Plants just generally improve your outlook on life in general. They are wonderful things to be around. 

If you would like to learn more about our services I’d be happy to talk to you. Please send me an email or book an appointment with me. 

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