Go Green (Literally)


Katherine Hawkins

During the gray and chilly months of autumn and winter, people crave a bit of color. More specifically, any shade of green. Not only do plants add a pop of color to a living space, they provide an incline in physical and mental health.


There is a misconception that plants only grow in spring and summer when there is an abundance of species that thrive in cold climates. Cold hardy plants can live in temperatures as cold as -20 Fahrenheit, making most plants able to survive in the home. In America, the northeast contains vegetation that is cold hardy and survives year round. The benefits of having plants in your house, room, or workspace includes purified air that can lead to improved mental and physical health. After senior Pankhudi Prasad introduced plants into her workspace at home, she reports having “more motivation to work” since the plants provide a “nice and colorful visual.”


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that Americans now spend around 90% of their time indoors. They found that brief exposure to foliage and vegetation have a temporary calming effect, which leads to reduced stress and decreased symptoms in common mental illnesses like depression. In the workplace, productivity increased and the amount of sick-days decreased when vegetation was introduced in the work environment. Additionally, NASA Clean Air Study found that houseplants have the capability to remove harmful pollutants and compounds in the air. Plants capture these pollutants and store them as energy, which in turn is emitted as purified air into the surrounding atmosphere. Not only can plants be used to improve mental and physical health, they can be used for medicinal properties. Vegetation such as aloe or marijuana has been used for their medicinal properties. Aloe and Marijuana can help heal sunburn, arthritis, and protect the skin barrier. Biologist Edward Wilson, author of Biophilia, believes this root cause is in humans DNA. His theory, supported by scientists and philosophers, claims that it is in human nature to find a connection between us and other living things such as animals and plants. Therefore, by including houseplants into your work or living environment, a calming effect is created through the body. If you are looking for an eye-catcher or visual in your house or workplace and you want to feel the benefits of improved mental and physical health, introducing vegetation is the first step into feeling better in your day-to-day life. 


In order to take care of plants, you must focus on water and sunlight that the plant receives. For beginners, any plant that requires little water is ideal. Depending on the location within the house, sunlight is another factor in what plant to get. First, plants with little access to sunlight would be best for Spider Plants, Chinese Evergreens, and Snake Plants. For medium sunlight, Cactus, Philodendron and Pothos are best. Finally, for rooms with high availability to sunlight, Jade Plants, Succulents, and Aloe are best. Local stores in Waterford that offer a wide variety of options to houseplants at affordable options include Lowe’s, Walmart, Home Depot and Jordan Brook Nursery.


Coming up at WHS is a newly introduced activity where you’ll be able to trade plants with fellow classmates. One of the two presidents, Louis Dhervilly, has created a new club at WHS that will include trading plants, seeds, learning how to cut plants, and care for houseplants. Their next meeting will be after school in Mrs. Hartells room, 215, on April 4th, 2023.