Keeping houseplants can be traced back to 2,500 years ago. The practice has become popular today, with people having plants in their houses, offices, classrooms, and hospitals.
Indoor plants have both psychological and physical benefits to human beings, but how many of the plants are enough to have in a room?
Houseplants become too many when you can’t take care of them properly as required. This could be due to the high maintenance cost or insufficient time. So, your plants might be too many when the hobby turns into an expensive and time-consuming activity.
This article will discuss several topics on houseplants, including the correct number of plants to have, depending on your space, the benefits of keeping houseplants, and how best to take care of them.
What Is The Appropriate Number of Plants To Have in a Room?
The number of plants you can have in a room depends on several factors, including:
- The size of your room
- The shelf space available to place them
- The available window space to hang them
To some people, one sizable plant is okay, while others prefer several indoor plant varieties.
The bottom line is that the plant(s) should improve the room’s appearance instead of making it look cluttered.
Remember that the purpose of houseplants is to make the room more appealing, not to convert it into a greenhouse.
Therefore, the appropriate number of houseplants will enable people to access all room corners without any distraction and without having to push plant leaves out the way.
To use the available space economically, place plants in areas where they fit best according to their sizes. Additionally, place them in a way that enables you to access them for watering and general plant care.
How to Know If You Have Too Many Plants
You don’t have too many plants as long as you enjoy taking good care of them. General houseplant care and maintenance include:
- Removing weeds
- Controlling pests
However, the number of houseplants in your room can exceed the ideal limits. The following are indications that you could have too many plants in your space:
- You run out of space to place your plants.
- The plants are more than you want to take care of.
- You don’t have enough money to take care of the plants.
- You don’t have enough time to take care of the plants. This may lead to chronic underwatering.
- You don’t enjoy taking care of the plants anymore.
- You get very exhausted after taking care of the plants.
Therefore, time, money, and space are the three factors you can use to tell if your house plants have become too many.
The table below shows the relationship between the above three factors and the ideal number of houseplants. So, it will help you decide how many plants you can have in your room.
|The Number of plants||Time it Requires per week||Purchase and Maintenance Cost||Space it Requires per sq foot (929 sq cm)|
Dangers of ‘Too Many’ Houseplants
Some people think that ‘too many’ houseplants can use all the available oxygen in the house for respiration at night, hence, denying them oxygen.
However, this is not the case because indoor plants use less oxygen for respiration than you need.
The rate of respiration by houseplants at night is relatively low compared to the rate of photosynthesis during the day. As such, houseplants absorb very little oxygen from the atmosphere at night.
Therefore, the main dangers of having ‘too many’ houseplants include the following:
- There is no room or space for people to move around in the house or sit comfortably on the furniture.
- The room is not well-lit during the day as the plants block natural light from the sun.
- Your home becomes a mess due to too many plants.
- You feel overwhelmed taking care of the plants.
- You don’t enjoy having the plants around.
- Your kids or pets are eating some hazardous plants.
Why You Should Keep The ‘Right Number’ of Houseplants
Many people keep houseplants for fun and as a hobby. These plants have many benefits, some of which you might not have considered.
According to research by a horticultural initiative dubbed Plant Life Balance in conjunction with RMIT university in Melbourne, the two main plant benefits are improved air quality and well-being.
Keeping the correct number of houseplants has the following benefits:
They Make Breathing Easier
Adding plants to your room helps to increase the oxygen levels in the room. During the day, plants breathe in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and release the oxygen that we require for breathing. Therefore, you become natural partners with the plants from this symbiotic relationship.
Some plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen even at night. They include:
- Epiphytic bromeliads
Hence, it would be best to place these in your bedrooms to help freshen up the air at night.
They Help Purify the Air
According to NASA research, plants remove up to 87% of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) from the air every 24 hours. These compounds include:
- Formaldehyde (found in cigarette smoke, grocery bags, rugs, and vinyl)
- Trichloroethylene (found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents, and paints)
The same research findings by NASA also reveal that plants pull these toxins into the soil, after which microorganisms convert them into plants’ nutrients.
The table below shows some plants that are good at filtering indoor air pollutants:
|Plant’s English name||Plant’s scientific name|
|English ivy||Hedera helix|
|Devil’s ivy/pothos plant||Epipremnum aureum|
|Bamboo palm||Chamaedorea seifrizii|
|Chinese evergreen||Aglaonema modestum|
|Weeping fig||Ficus benjamina|
|Aloe vera||Aloe barbadensis miller|
|Janet Craig||Dracaena deremensis|
The level of toxin removal increases with the number of plants in a space. So, the more indoor plants you have, the higher their efficiency in filtering toxins.
For example, in a room measuring 4 m (13 ft) by 5 m (16.4 ft), one plant can make the air 25% cleaner, while five plants can make the air 75% cleaner.
Hence, you need approximately ten plants in such a room for optimum purification and well-being benefits.
One plant can provide 45% cleaner air and little well-being in a 3 x 3 meter (9.84 x 9.84 ft) room. But two plants can provide up to 75% cleaner air and 50% more well-being.
On the other hand, five plants will achieve maximum health and well-being benefits.
Other than the number, the plant’s size also helps clean the air. Therefore, plants with bigger leaves can be more beneficial than those with smaller leaves.
They Increase the Rate of Recovery From Diseases
According to the American Society for Horticultural Science, having enough plants in hospital rooms increases patients’ recovery rate from surgery. Placing plants in patient rooms has been found to:
- Increase positive feelings
- Reduce worrisome thoughts
- Promote restoration from stress
Therefore, the patients exhibit better outcomes, which include:
- Requesting fewer analgesics.
- Decreased heart rate and blood pressure.
- Fewer instances of anxiety and fatigue.
- Being released from the hospital sooner.
Having enough houseplants in offices has also been shown to reduce illness rates. Therefore, people with plants in their office spaces have reduced fatigue, colds, headaches, sore throat, and flu-like symptoms.
In addition, houseplants have the following psychological benefits:
- They help to improve mood.
- They help to reduce stress levels.
- They help increase worker productivity and learners’ focus in a class.
- They increase one’s reaction to a computer task.
They Increase Humidity
Plants release water vapor into the air (oxygen) through photosynthesis and respiration. This makes the air more humid and, in turn, helps to fight respiratory distress.
As such, keeping houseplants help to reduce incidences of dry skin, colds, sore throat, and dry coughs.
How Should You Care for Your Houseplants?
Having the correct number of plants in your room isn’t enough. You need to take good care of them to enjoy their benefits.
Otherwise, your houseplants will wither and die if you don’t meet their care and maintenance requirements.
Here are ways to care for your houseplants:
Water Them Correctly
Houseplants have watering requirements that vary slightly from one another. You should water your plants on a need basis rather than following a fixed calendar.
For instance, plants growing in a well-drained medium and in a container of appropriate size require water when the top ½ inch (1.27 cm) or 1 inch (2.54 cm) of the medium feels dry.
However, cacti and succulent plants require less water.
Overwatering is one of the leading causes of houseplants’ death. So, you should water them less rather than giving them excess water.
Add Fertilizers Appropriately
Fertilizing your houseplants depends on their growth rate, age, and season. Most houseplants show exponential growth in summer and spring, which is the best time to fertilize them.
However, growth is low in winter and fall. Hence, there’s no need to add much fertilizer during these seasons.
It would help if you followed the label directions to know when to fertilize your plants, as over-fertilizing can burn the roots and lead to stunted growth.
Additionally, use a fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium if your plants are flowering.
If your plant is very leafy and doesn’t flower much, remember that adding too much nitrogen is not advisable since the plant will grow more leaves than flowers.
Propagate Your Plants When Need Be
You can propagate some varieties of houseplants by division or any other method to rejuvenate them and encourage new growth. Propagation also enables you to get free seedlings from your established plants.
For plants like bromeliads, divide the new shoots growing at the mother plant’s base and grow them in new pots.
For climbing house plants such as pothos, obtain cuttings from where their stems touch the soil and use them to increase your plants’ population.
Other houseplants, like spider plants, form runners that produce new plantlets. Thus, you can get the planters and grow them in new pots.
Repot Overgrown Houseplants
If you find that the roots of your plants are packed too tightly inside the container, then it might be time to repot them.
Transfer your plant to a bigger container, trim its roots, or replace the medium with a fresh one if it has overgrown its container.
The best time to carry out repotting is in summer and spring.
Remove Dust From Your Plants
Dust tends to accumulate on the leaves of the plants. So, it’s best to remove it regularly. You can eliminate the dust by gently washing it off with room-temperature water.
However, brush off the dust using a soft brush instead of washing with water if the leaves are hairy.
This keeps the plant healthy since hairy leaves can retain moisture and attract diseases.
On the other hand, you can wipe off the dust with a clean piece of cloth if your plants have smooth leaves.
Removing dust improves the appearance of your plants and allows them to absorb light better.
Prune and Pinch Your Plants
The ideal time to prune your houseplants is in the fall after a summer of growth. Pruning will make your plants look better and prevent them from growing too large.
Like propagation, pruning also helps rejuvenate the growth of plants.
As you prune, remember to remove any diseased or dead leaves or stems to prevent the spread of the disease to the rest of the plant.
Pinching, which removes the tip of your plant, encourages the growth of side buds. Moreover, it helps the plant to remain compact and fuller. You can pinch your plant using your fingernails or a pruner.
Watch for Houseplant Pests and Diseases
If you identify any pest attack, use recommended pesticides to eliminate the pests. Some natural pesticides include insecticidal soap and alcohol.
However, move any plant affected by the disease away from other plants to prevent transmission.
You can keep as many houseplants as you want, as long as you have enough space, time, and budget to care for them.
However, indoor plants can become too many when you struggle to manage them. Always bear in mind how much time and energy you have before adding another plant to your space.
- Extension University of Missouri: Terrariums
- US Department of Agriculture: The Power of One Tree – The Very Air We Breathe
- Oregon State University: Plant Growth and Development
- Garden Drum: Plant Life Balance: Research Findings for New Campaign
- Bromeliads: Bromeliads: Growing Medium and Mounting Materials
- Balcony Garden Web: New NASA Study: This Houseplant Removes Indoor Air Pollutants & VOCs Best
- American Society for Horticultural Science: Effects of Flowering and Foliage Plants in Hospital Rooms on Patients Recovering from Abdominal Surgery
- Salon: Not all Greenery is Good: 10 Hazardous Houseplants to Watch Out For
- Better Homes & Gardens: How to Water Houseplants (and Avoid Overwatering)
- Better Homes & Gardens: How to Propagate Your Houseplants to Easily Expand Your Collection for Free
- Better Homes & Gardens: How to Clean Your Houseplants to Get Rid of Dust and Pests
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