Plants that turn your garden into a stress busting haven

Wednesday May 20 2020

Zinnias are easy to grow and come in a variety

Zinnias are easy to grow and come in a variety of colours including red, orange, white, yellow, purple and pink. Net photo 

By Carolyne B. Atangaza

Have you been fighting a sense of restlessness, anxiety and lack of focus? The answer to your challenges could lie just outside your door. According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, touching or smelling plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress. Touching their soil also promises to help you keep stress and anxiety at bay.

This is because soil contains microbes known as outdoorphins, which work as natural antidepressants by releasing cytokines, which then leads your brain to produce more serotonin. So, just by being around soil, these outdoorphins flood your body and boost your mood.

It has also been established that plants cause positive changes in the brain’s electrical activity, muscle tension and heart activity.
Plants help improve reaction times, increase attentiveness, and lower blood pressure, improve attendance, improve well-being, raise productivity, lower levels of anxiety, decrease mild depression and increase self-satisfaction among the many benefits.

Plant and flower fragrances have been proven to have a beneficial effect on the body, and many like lavender and chamomile are known to aid relaxation. If then, you want your garden to help you relax and feel more peace, it makes sense you plant your borders with as many fragrant, relaxation-promoting flowers, plants and herbs.

Peperomia obtusfolia
Brenda Ekke, a horticulturist, says the perfect plant is one that is not too demanding to keep alive which might actually cause anxiety. She swears by peperomia obtusfolia, a plant that performs many positive functions such as keeping the energy, air, and atmosphere in your home ideal for mental health. These plants reduce carbon dioxide levels, increase humidity, reduce certain pollutants, keep air temperatures down and reduce dust.

Another of her favourite plants is the oxalis, a herb known for its anti-inflammatory properties but is also a diuretic, a relaxant, a stomachic, an astringent, an analgesic and styptic in nature.
Jasmine according to Ekke is perfect for decorating a trellis or an empty wall. It produces fragrant, vibrant star-shaped white or yellow blossoms. Not only does it smell sweet, but also represents love.


Snake plants
Lillian Katiso proprietor of Maua and More, recommends snake plants (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue), which are known to boost energy and fight anxiety. As a bonus, snake plants can also improve concentration, sleep and reaction times, while also lowering overall levels of anxiety.

Money tree
She also recommends the money tree known for giving off good vibes that fight off those anxiety attacks by filtering air and removing toxins while also increasing oxygen inflow.
Feng Shui experts even suggest placing a money plant in front of a sharp corner or angle to reduce anxiety. Experts believe this plant also helps prevent arguments and sleep disorders.

As if Lavender was not lovely enough already, it is also a great companion to bring calm into your home. Lavender’s strength is not only its colour (which is still a very decent strength) but its scent. Lavender oil has shown promise in its treatment of anxiety and depression in studies and can really help with short-term relief from stress and worry.

Cheery chrysanthemums are a beautiful treat in a bouquet but in the garden, they are much more powerful. They are experts at improving the air around them. In this case, chrysanthemums are able to remove ammonia, toluene and formaldehyde. Not to mention of course their colours go some way to improving moods everywhere.

Peace lilies
Peace lilies are a well-named plant indeed, as they are great at helping you find peace. Its dark green leaves and white spathes (the name of the petals) have a serene zen-like quality but that is not all. It is a very easy plant to look after not needing much light or water. Studies have also shown that it is almost twice as effective at removing common toxic gasses from its surroundings as other plants. It really is a plant that helps you breathe easier.

Aloe Vera, predominantly used as a herbal remedy, is a succulent plant species that has been around since the beginning of the first century AD. Renowned for soothing scars, inflammation and sunburned skin, Aloe Vera is said to be among the most powerful plant air purifiers in the world. Apart from lowering carbon dioxide levels at night, this plant species also helps to remove harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene from the air.

It is also said to have effectively treated symptoms of anxiety. If you wish to improve the overall quality of the air in your home or office, these plants are a great investment – especially to those wishing for a restful night’s sleep – a must if you wish to rid your body and mind of worry and stress. It is also a great option for those looking for a low maintenance plant as it requires minimum water and attention. In fact, the Egyptians nicknamed it the ‘plant of immortality’ because of its resilience.

Peace rose
The peace rose is hardy and relatively resistant to disease. It is vibrant and fragrant the qualities needed for improving the feeling of peace.

Elegant candy daylily
This perennial has open flowers all season long and is well suited to a wide range of locations. It is low maintenance. The elegant flowers love sun and can be planted in full sun or partial shade.

Zinnias come in a variety of colours including red, orange, white, yellow, purple and pink. They are the perfect way for you to commemorate those missing from your life. Zinnias are one of the easiest annuals to grow — they grow quickly and bloom heavily.

Blue salvia
Blue saliva flowers heavily all season and is incredibly drought resistant. This plant is a show-stopper and is a wonderful choice for landscaping. Blue salvia can grow up to two feet tall and one foot wide. Blue salvia means “I think of you” and can be the perfect addition to a garden used for quiet reflection or meditation.

Additional information from