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Go Green to Boost Brain Power

Having a green thumb is given a whole new meaning when working on a keyboard at home.

Incorporating plants into your child’s home workspace can increase focus and creativity, and produce multiple health benefits that include decreasing stress and fatigue and air purification, according to The Royal College of Agriculture in Cirencester, England. Its study of children who were taught in classrooms that contained plants demonstrated a 70-per-cent boost in attentiveness.

It’s easy to replicate that boon in your child’s personal workspace.

Plants purify the air by reducing carbon dioxide – which makes us drowsy – while increasing oxygen levels. According to urbanplanters. co.uk, plants have been known to reduce carbon dioxide in the air by up to 50 per cent and also reduce dust, bacteria, moulds and other contaminants. They even remove indoor pollutants – such as benzene and formaldehyde – which are commonly found in many home decor and construction materials.

“Houseplants can eliminate many of the toxins in our homes caused by the likes of televisions, computers, paints, carpets and furnishings,” according to the non-profit organization Plants for People in its report Plants for Life.

“They simply act just like a filter, removing harmful compounds and improving air quality. Airborne dust particles, which can cause allergies and discomfort, will collect on plants’ leaves, stems and flowers, so the air circulating in a room becomes less dusty and cleaner.”

Plants also increase humidity, releasing moisture into the air, and easing respiratory ailments like asthma, as well as dry throats, dry skin and cold symptoms.

According to Plants for People, the higher your indoor plants are located, the more effective they are at air purification and filtering contaminants. The group recommends hanging plants, climbing plants, tall pots or positioning plants on high surfaces.

Stacie Zhao, owner of the Ottawa Kennedy Flower Shop, recommends the following plants for your child’s home study space: Sansevieria: The species is known as an air purifier. An added benefit of these flowering plants, native to Africa and Southeast Asia, is that they form offshoots that can be re-planted in other pots to form an air-purifying army. However, many sansevieria are poisonous if ingested, so they are not recommended for homes with small children. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (also known as a snake plant) is one common plant of this genus.

Succulent: Also known as “fat plants,” they typically have a thick and fleshy component that retains water. They are found across multiple plant families and genera, including cacti and orchids. One of Zhao’s favourites is the Jade plant.

Cacti: Cacti help purify the air, and come with the added benefit of being able to absorb some of the radiation given offby a computer.

Bonsai trees: The Japanese tradition involves essentially growing miniature trees in containers or pots. Why not turn your little one’s homework zone into a mini Bonsai garden?

According to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) research by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, author of How to Grow Fresh Air, the following plants are the best air purifiers: Lady, Areca, Bamboo and Dwarf Date Palms; Ficus Ali; Boston Fern, Peace Lily; Rubber plant; Dracaena; and Philodendron.

While your child still might not love doing their homework, adding a few plants to their desk space might keep their nose in their books – and eyes on the screen – a little while longer.

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