Health, Reader Favorite

The Peace Lily: Physical & Mental Health Benefits

You don’t need a green thumb.

I do not have a green thumb. I can look at a plant sideways, and it will shrivel up and die. So, when my mother-in-law gave me a peace lily the Easter before she passed away, I was nervous. She assured me that it is a “closet plant”, as in it doesn’t need much light and is easy to keep alive. I was doubtful that would be the case under my supervision and care, but I accepted the challenge.

Surprisingly, it remained alive (although not always thriving) for about six or seven years! Yay, me! I must say, it is a great starter plant for someone new to taking care of plants at home. Perhaps my next one will last even longer.

Health Benefits

I learned plenty about peace lilies over the years (also known as Spathiphyllum), and I urge you to invest in one for your home. The benefits will surely convince you. First of all, it purifies the air. I have asthma and am also allergic to nearly everything on God’s green earth. Our homes have many pollutants, and it’s important to manage them and have suitable ventilation.

NASA has been involved in the study of air quality for decades, and the NASA Clean Air Act Study mentions that peace lilies absorb pollutants such as: trichloroethylene, benzyne, xylene, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde. These chemicals are absorbed and broken down onto the leaves and the topsoil of the plant.

Other air-purifying plants approved by NASA are: orchids, spider plants, Dracoena, ficus, Boston fern, zz plants, and snake plants.

The peace lily can also safeguard you from detrimental vapors of the products you use, such as acetone and alcohol. These two are found in varnishes, paints rubbing alcohol, and nail polish remover. The vapors from acetone and alcohol can cause headaches, lack of coordination, slurred speech, low blood pressure, and lethargy.

Aside from its beauty, it also promotes good sleep as it absorbs airborne mold spores that are common allergens. This plant can absorb extra moisture from bathrooms and surrounding areas which in turn hampers the growth of mold, spores, and mildew.

Mental & Emotional Benefits

According to the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M, being around plants or caring for them have multiple benefits:

  • “Being around plants helps people concentrate better…Studies show that tasks performed while under the calming influence of nature are performed better and with greater accuracy, yielding a higher quality result.”
  • “Having flowers [and ornamental plants] around the home and office greatly improves people’s moods and reduces the likelihood of stress-related depression.”
  • “The presence of plants in hospital recovery rooms…help patients to heal faster, due to the soothing effects of ornamental horticulture.”
  • “Studies show that people who spend time cultivating plants have less stress in their lives. Plants soothe human beings and provide a positive way for people to channel their stress into nurturing.”

I guess I have both an emotional support dog and an emotional support plant!

Harold, my hound, and Lily
FYI: Peace lilies are not poisonous to dogs, but they do contain a compound that can be bothersome if consumed by dog or human. It is the presence of calcium oxalate crystals. The result, if consumed, is an inflammatory reaction with possible diarrhea and/or vomiting. In most cases the irritation is minor.

How to Care for a Peace Lily Plant

Peace lilies enjoy medium to low light. If placed in more light, they are apt to produce the white flowers more; while if placed in low light, they will bloom less and will look more like a foliage plant.

Do not overwater it. They are more tolerant of underwatering than overwatering, so there is no need to water this plant on a schedule. Check it once a week by simply touching the top of the soil. If it is dry, water it. If the soil is still damp, leave it be.

Now it’s time to scurry to the nearest garden center (or floral section of your grocery store) and gift yourself a peace lily. I hope you, too, will enjoy its beauty and benefits.

Copyright © 2021 Alicia Rust. All rights reserved.

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