Are you a proud plant parent of one or two (dozen) succulents at home? Are you addicted to collecting succulents and other houseplants and are secretly plotting to turn your humble abode into an urban jungle?
Yes? Lucky you, because this article will absolutely validate your succulent hoarding tendencies.
Yes, Succulents Give Off Oxygen
Our body is about two-thirds oxygen. It’s is an essential component for humans to survive on this face of the Earth. It powers up vital processes in our body, such as breathing, brain functions, metabolism, and blood circulation.
When we inhale, we introduce oxygen into our body and in turn release carbon dioxide. Plants, including succulents, go through this respiration process, too, but in reverse. They absorb the available carbon dioxide in the environment and give off oxygen. During the day, they use the carbon dioxide they get from us as an energy fuel for their food-making process called photosynthesis.
It’s such a beautiful relationship with mutual benefits, right?
What Makes Succulents Special
While the sun is still up, the oxygen emission of most plants is minimal, because they need all the energy for photosynthesis. But in the absence of sunlight, one of the main ingredients of this process, during night time, there are unique indoor plants that still take in carbon dioxide and release an abundant amount of oxygen.
This is what sets succulents, orchids, and bromeliads above the rest. These night-shift oxygen-producing indoor plants are highly recommended to be given a cozy spot inside your bedroom. Because they can keep oxygen flowing when you turn off the lights at night, they give a positive calming effect on humans, encouraging better sleep quality, reducing instances of an anxiety attack and insomnia.
Succulents Purify the Air
Aside from providing oxygen for you to breathe, succulents have another amazing feat. Comprehensive research by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA, the country’s prestigious space program, has found that common houseplants and succulents work as natural air purifiers, cleaning the air we breathe and stripping it off of harmful toxins.
Interestingly, having indoor plants can remove a significant amount, at least 87 percent in 24 hours, of volatile organic compounds or VOCs, which are materials that easily become breathable vapor or gas. VOCs can be mixed with hydrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, sulphur or nitrogen.
What Are VCOs and Why Are They Harmful?
VOCs are a byproduct of burning fuel, such as gasoline, wood, or coal. Examples of volatile organic compounds are gasoline, benzene, formaldehyde, solvents such as toluene and xylene, styrene, and perchloroethylene (or tetrachloroethylene). Outdoors, you can be exposed to toxic levels of VOCs through smog and air pollution, which soar higher during summer.
At home or in the office, you may be exposed to VOCs from solvents, paint, glue, rugs, cigarette smoke, printers, photocopiers, shopping bags, books, and printer inks. You can also be exposed to it when you use dry-cleaning products or go to professional dry cleaners.
VOCs should be avoided at all costs because they are bad for your health. Benzene and formaldehyde are known carcinogens.
Symptoms of short-term exposure to VOCs include:
- Eye irritation and visual issues
- Skin allergies
- Respiratory tract irritation
Long-term exposure or exposure to toxic levels of VOCs can be more detrimental and may lead to damage to vital parts of your body, including the liver, kidney, and nervous system.
During the 80s, NASA along with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America looked closely into houseplants and their astounding ability to purify the air in space facilities.
Hardy succulents, such as aloe and snake plant, were cited as excellent air purifiers. They pull trapped air with VOCs into the soil and where the root converts into plant food.
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)
Aloe vera plants at home help screen out formaldehyde and benzene in the air. These sunshine-loving plants will thrive when positioned on the windowsill of a south-facing window or a sun-drenched porch. They also have healing and soothing effects on minor cuts and burns. Break the stalky leaf of an aloe plant into two. Apply the fresh aloe gel to the affected area.
Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii')
More commonly known for its nickname, mother-in-law’s tongue, the snake plant can also filter airborne formaldehyde. A robust indoor plant, it can thrive terrifically even inside the bathroom or any room with low light and steamy humid conditions.
More NASA-Approved Indoor Plants
Aside from succulents, other indoor plants included in NASA’s list are:
- Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
- Golden pothos (Scindapsus aures)
- Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
- Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)
- Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
- Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
- Azalea (Rhododendron simsii)
- English ivy (Hedera helix)
- Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis 'Warneckii')
- Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema Crispum 'Deborah')
- Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium)
- Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
If you’re a new plant parent, you’ll never go wrong by starting with a few pots of these houseplants, as they are known to be resilient and fairly easy to take care of.
Here are a few maintenance reminders for healthy indoor plants:
- Before adopting a new houseplant, always do your research about its light and watering needs.
- Most indoor plants like bright, indirect light, although there are some that will flourish even with a mere fluorescent bulb.
- Position your plants away from direct heat sources, say, a radiator or a heating vent. It will dry up and wilt your plant in no time.
- Have a friend or family “plant sit” for you when you’re going on long vacations. If you’re the kind who have trust issues, you can check out drip water irrigation techniques. There are even tools available in online selling them.
- To keep moisture, put dried leaves on the topsoil.
- Water in the morning, so the soil can completely dry throughout the day.
- Don’t overwater. Plants love moist, not soggy kind of soil.
- Water more frequently during hot summer months and less during winter.
- Wipe the dust off leaves gently with soft, damp cloth once in a while. Dust covers the plant’s stomata, which could be stopping or slowing down photosynthesis.
- Know when to repot. Old plants or fast-growing plants can get root-bound. This is not advisable as it can hinder them from growing more or blooming. Roots poking out of the pot is one sure sign it’s time to repot.
Other Incredible Benefits of Succulents
Filling every corner of your home or office with all sorts of succulents and indoor plants is a worthy investment and a step closer to better health. The health benefits of succulents don’t stop with giving oxygen for breathing and air purifying. There are lots more.
They increase humidity indoors
Based on a study conducted by the Agricultural University of Norway, having indoor plants at home can regulate the humidity inside the home because they release moisture vapor and in turn keep pesky respiratory issues at bay, such as prevent a sore throat, allergies colds, dry cough, and even dry skin. Humidity and good indoor air circulation also prevent the spread of flu and other types of viruses.
They speed up your healing process
Next time you or someone you care enough about gets sick or confined to a hospital, go the extra mile and bring him or her a succulent arrangement when you visit.
In a 2009 research published on PubMed, experts reveal that bringing ornamental indoor plants and flowers in hospitals actually help make the recovery of patients who have undergone medical surgical procedures quicker.
Dubbed as “noninvasive, inexpensive, and effective complementary medicine for surgical patients,” succulents, fresh flower arrangements, and houseplants were also noted to deliver these good effects:
- Lowered systolic blood pressure
- Less anxiety, pain, and fatigue
In comparison to patients who have no plants inside their rooms.
The healing aid from succulents and plants was also emphasized by Texas A&M University. They suggested that horticultural therapy, where patients work in the garden and interact with plants, encourage faster recovery and less downtime in post-surgery patients.
They make you more focused and creative
Employers and offices should definitely invest in more ornamental and indoor plants in their working spaces. Based on extensive studies, the presence of plants or being close to nature makes people deliver their work outputs more accurately and effectively.
And why not? Indoor plants, such as succulents, are known to significantly:
- Improve focus
- Keep concentration
- Enhance mood
- Trigger creativity
- Reduce stress levels
- Boost memory retention up to 20 percent
Tips for Making Indoor Succulents Thrive at Home
Succulents and indoor plants can, without a doubt, make you healthier and so much happier, especially when they don’t die under your watch.
Let’s save you from the heartache of a few plant mishaps with these practical plant parenting tips.
Light and the right kind of succulents
First, let’s get it out there: not all succulents are meant to be kept indoors.
Most love to be soaked under the sun, particularly vibrantly colored succulents that come in red, orange, and purple. If you’re limited to indoor spaces and don’t have big south-facing windows at home, steer clear of succulents in those colors. No matter how temptingly beautiful they seem to be, they will only break your heart.
Green is the way to go in terms of indoor succulents. Try these green succulent varieties that can tolerate low-light indoors.
- Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum)
- Zebra Cactus (Haworthia fasciata)
- Aloe vera
- Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)
- Hens-and-Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum or Echeveria elegans)
- String of Bananas
- Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
- Panda Plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa)
- Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria)
- Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Make sure you put your indoor succulents at a spot in your home that gets the most sunlight or artificial light. Obvious signs that your succulent plants are craving for more sun exposure is when they stretch or get a bit leggy in search of more sunlight. In Echeveria varieties this is a little disappointing because their foliage will be spread out and they won’t form rosettes.
Too much sun can burn some succulents
This can be a very rare instance, but it’s not impossible. When the sun gets too intense during scorching summer months, even a sun-loving succulent in a south-facing window can get burned. A simple solution is to draw a sheer curtain or window blinds or transfer your plants to a different location in the afternoon.
Water your succulents good and proper
FACT: most succulents will more likely die due to overwatering than underwatering. Remember, these green babies are certified drought-resistant.
Indoor succulents are satisfied as long as you water them thoroughly once a week. Do not make the grave mistake of watering them more than that if you want to keep them alive. They have water reserves secretly hidden inside their fat leaves, so don’t your worry.
The soak and tilt method is helpful, especially for succulents in planters with no drainage holes. After you have given your succulents a good drink, wait for maybe five minutes. Tilt the excess water that doesn’t get absorbed by the soil. This way, you’re saving your little cactus from developing rotten roots.
The secret to succulent arrangements
Succulent arrangements are chic, conversation starters. They’re going green in style. Whether it’s a cute DIY project or one you received or ordered for yourself, succulent arrangements can last a long time with appropriate care and maintenance.
If you ordered your succulent arrangement from a trusted expert or florist, trust that they are packed tight solid and come in quality potting material designed to hold water longer. Plus the fact that they come in terrariums or decorative planters that have no holes in them.
Some even provide pipettes and instructional notes detailing how many drops and how frequent waterings should be done. Watering the soil once every two weeks is advisable. Water gently, so you don’t mess up your succulent arrangement.