Houseplants may offer major mental health benefits during pandemic

Having plants in the home helped improved mental wellbeing for many people, according to a new study from the University of Seville. This isn't the first study to link exposure to plants with psychological wellbeing, but it is unique in one big way: it focused specifically on the COVID-19 lockdowns and how houseplants may have been a benefit for those stuck at home.

The international study was coordinated by the University of Seville's School of Agricultural Engineering's NATURIB. The researchers focused on the first round of COVID-19 lockdowns that took place from March to June 2020. During this time, many people remained indoors for long periods of time, particularly those who worked from home.

More than 4,200 people across 46 countries were surveyed about whether having houseplants at home during lockdown offered mental health benefits. The results found that 74-percent of people considered the houseplants beneficial, and that 55.8-percent reported having wanted even more plants in their homes during that time period.

The study also found that people who didn't often visit green outdoor spaces prior to lockdown, and who lived in dimly lit and/or small homes, were more likely to have experienced negative emotions during that time period. Negative emotions were found to have occurred with greater frequency in participants who said they didn't have any houseplants at the time.

A bit over half of the surveyed participants said they spent more time taking care of their houseplants while in lockdown, and more than 62-percent said they'd like to continue with that routine once things go back to normal. Ultimately, the study notes, 40-percent of the participants said they'd like to get more houseplants going forward.