Have you got a plant/life balance?

It's official: Not only do plants look pretty, they're good for you too, with research showing they improve air quality and create feelings of well-being.

Here's how to up your plant quotient and get the optimum plant/life balance at home and work.

Adding just one plant to your living environment will improve your air quality by 25%, according to Plant Life Balance.

Plants can remove airborne toxins created by paints, furniture finishes and air pollution, and also create feelings of relaxation, inspiration and positivity.

"Plants have been known to be effective at absorbing air pollutants - such as solvents - from the air indoors," says Marco Amati, Associate Professor at RMIT University. "There are several mechanisms through which this can occur: One is directly through the leaves, another is via the bacteria that live around the roots."

How many plants do I need?

There's an optimum number of plants for your particular space, depending on its size. Research from RMIT University and the University of Melbourne shows, in order to reap the most benefits from our green frondy friends, the prime number of plants in an average four by five-metre room, courtyard or balcony is ten. While it might look nice, a single plant will do little to benefit your health or mood.

The optimum number goes down to five in a small, three by three-metre space and up to 32 in a larger, eight by eight-metre room. These estimates are based on medium-sized plants - smaller plants are said to be worth about one-third of these, while large plants are worth one-and-a-half times a medium plant.

Where should the plants go?

A mix of plant species and sizes is best and their care and maintenance of plants is important and they need light, says Marco, so it's important to put them in places where they will survive.

If you put plants in rooms where you don’t spend much time you might end up neglecting them

"Experiment with different plant size combinations and shelving to put plants in high places for example, so they are visible but out of the way," Marco suggests. "Explore ways of integrating plants with bookshelves or as a feature on a coffee table."

Which plants should I choose?

Georgina Reid, horticulturist and ambassador of Plant Life Balance, shares her five favourite indoor plants.

Wax Plant (Hoya australis) - A native Australian climber with dark, waxy leaves. It likes a well-lit indoor location and not too much water.

Jungle cactus (Rhipsalis spp.) - This cactus has evolved to grow in the shady jungles of South America. It likes well-lit indoor areas and not much water.

Fruit salad plant (Monstera deliciosa) - This tough guy is very low-maintenance. Monstera has gorgeous big, dark green leaves, can tolerate dark indoor spaces and if happy, it can get huge!

Begonia (Begonia 'Cleopatra') - This delicate and pretty begonia has multicoloured leaves and grows best in a well-lit indoor location. Begonias really don't like being saturated, so make sure the potting mix dries out completely between watering. 


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Radiator plant (Peperomia obtusifolia 'Variegata') - This cute little plant has thick, waxy round leaves with yellow variegations. Variegated foliage is great for lightening up dark areas. This guy likes medium to well-lit spaces and not too much water.

What if I'm a terrible plant-parent?

Do you manage to neglect every plant you own? Georgina says these three plants are hardy and nearly impossible to kill.

Dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) - This is one of the easiest houseplants to grow, and it will recover quickly from periods of neglect. 

Mother-in-Law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) - These hardy and slow-growing plants are attractive and require very little maintenance and light.

Cast iron plant (Aspedistera elatior) - This indestructible plant will thrive even in low light and low humidity, with irregular watering and in varying temperatures.


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