Long study days ahead? How plants could make you smarter

With mock exams, personal statements, and lots of other homework on the immediate horizon, getting some indoor plants may help you concentrate.

Research shows that adding plants to your study-space helps to create a stress-free environment. House plants are believed to have a positive effect on mental health: they’re a mood booster, can increase creativity and create overall tranquillity.

Since the first lockdown in March 2020, there has been a significant rise in plant and bulb sales. According to the Telegraph “Patch, an online indoor plant retailer, saw a 500% increase in sales during the lockdown”. Surprisingly, this rise in sales seems to be driven entirely by young people, something that was confirmed by The Royal Horticultural Society, which saw a 533% increase in the number of 18–24-year-olds visiting their website since the summer of 2020.

Spending time outdoors in nature reduces stress and improves wellbeing. But whilst we are busy studying and looking at screens, the next best thing to do is to get some indoor plants, which are a low cost, effective way to brighten up your space and mood.

Plants are not only aesthetically appealing but have been found to improve concentration and cognitive skills. A research study conducted at Exeter University in the UK found that indoor plants can improve concentration, productivity and wellbeing by 47%. This is mainly because plants reduce stress and make us calmer, allowing us to concentrate more and hence be more productive.

But there is another benefit, plants can purify our (very polluted) indoor air to some extent, by absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen. So having plants directly near where you study, increases air-humidity and oxygen levels around you.

Hannah Bates, manager of Maison Curate, an independent lifestyle store in Battersea, London, explains the importance of bringing nature inside and the enjoyment that indoor gardening can bring.

“We get lots of teenagers coming in at weekends buying plants. I think that our customers, because they’ve had more time to look after the plants, know more about them and it just brings that happy sense of achievement.”

If you’re not sure where to start, Hannah suggests the best plants are any that do well in dark spaces, as not many indoor spaces have much direct light. Good choices are more hardy plants such as Rubber plants, Zamioculcas (ZuZu planst), succulents (very low maintenance) or the aptly named Money Tree (personal favourite), which is said to be a ‘lucky’ plant.

“I think indoor and desk plants are a reminder to slow down. When you’re looking at nature, the slow pace of it is relaxing. And watching your own plant(s) grow – thanks to your TLC – is very satisfying.”

Money doesn’t grow on trees, not even on the Money Tree, so if you can’t buy them, grow them! You don’t necessarily need a large space either – you can buy seeds for as cheap at 90p from supermarkets and online; or for free by taking a cutting from a friend. This means you can keep growing your green friends forever.

So, to boost concentration and possibly to improve your grades, turn your fingers green and – with the smallest of efforts - transform your thinking space into a relaxed environment bursting with focus and creativity. It may just be the difference to get that A*. Always worth the try…

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