The healing power of plants – The Rider News

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By Muriel Baki

Across campus, the Broncs are enjoying the signs of spring. Sunshine, blooming flowers and longer days are just some of the signs that spring is returning to Rider after a long winter.

“It’s so good to see everyone on campus — it feels like everything is coming back to life,” said Rider philosophy professor Carol Nicolson.

Another way to bring your days back to life is to incorporate plants into your home and living space. Greening your space is an easy way to improve your mental and physical health, and plants make great, long-lasting decor. Indoor plants have been proven to help reduce stress levels.

In a study by the American Psychological Association, individuals who entered a room full of plants after a stressful task had 50% lower stress levels than those who did not interact with plants. Caring for houseplants has also been shown to be therapeutic and helps with anxiety and depression. At a psychiatric hospital in Ohio, residents who worked in the on-site greenhouse reported significant improvement in their mental state, and three of 10 patients studied were able to reduce their dose of SSRI drugs.

Including plants in your living space can also improve your physical health. Plants improve the quality of the air around them. In the 1980s, NASA researchers found they could improve the air quality inside a sealed spacecraft with plants. Plant roots, soil and leaves reduce harmful organic compounds in the air through a process known as phytoremediation. When including plants in your space for air quality, it’s important to know the facts. Many plants stop emitting oxygen at night when photosynthesis is no longer possible, and instead release carbon dioxide. To purify the air at night, opt for plants like orchids, succulents, snakes and bromeliads. For novice gardeners, snake plants and succulents are great options that are low maintenance, beautiful, and offer many benefits.

Propagation is a cost-effective, low-pollution way to increase the green in your life. Plant propagation is the process by which new plants grow from a variety of sources: seeds, cuttings, and other plant parts. A highly sustainable option, propagation, allows you to use living plant parts to create new ones without harming the original plant. Propagation methods vary, but generally the steps involve taking a leaf, stem, or root from the original plant, allowing it to heal and callus, then planting it in cool soil. Some gardeners also choose to use a rooting hormone. The next phase is to encourage growth with water, sunlight and humidity, the amounts of which are usually specific to each plant species.

At a recent Green Team meeting, the Broncs enjoyed propagating and repotting both the pothos and the snake plants they saved to start their own home gardens.

Junior Nursing Rider, Emily Gonzales said, “I didn’t even know you could just make more plants…you could just keep spreading forever.”

The continuous spread is also an opportunity for fun and meaningful moments. For roommates, families, or groups of friends, the propagation of a single shared plant can become a special, vivid memory for a large group of people.

Whether you have a green thumb or just want to clear the air, whether it’s to improve your mood and concentration or simply brighten up a room, a houseplant (especially one you’ve propagated yourself) could be the answer.

Stop by the Office of Sustainability’s Earth Day Celebration on April 21 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Campus Green and Cranberry’s Patio for a live propagation workshop and take home your own houseplant. The rain location is in the atrium of the Student Recreation Center. What better way to celebrate spring than with fresh, healthy plants in your living spaces?

Muriel Baki, Rider Eco Rep

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