Sunday, Aug 01, 2021 08:15 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Aug 01, 2021 02:35 [IST]


Dr. Dipika Sarmah, College of Horticulture (Central Agricultural University, Imphal), Bermiok, Sikki

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought drastic routine changes to the world’s population. Social isolation, is one of the recommended practices to reduce the spread of disease. But this can lead to development of different problems such as depression, stress and loneliness. However, practices associated with cultivation of flower, ornamental plants can be an option to aid in the care for the mental health.  It has been proven that hortitherapy helps in the treatment of mental illness. One of the most common symptoms of the 2nd wave of COVID-19 is breathlessness. Coronavirus virus patient have been found to experience shortness of oxygen level in their body that makes the disease deadly. Therefore, it is very important to look for ways to increase the oxygen levels at home. There are many indoor and outdoor plants are available in North East India that release oxygen at night time and purify the air also. By planting such type of plants in home we can increase the oxygen level.
Indoor plants:
Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata): It is commonly known as Mother -in -Law’s Tongue. It is commonly available in North-East India. It is an ideal plant for indoor space because it is superb air purifier. According to NASA, it has ability to purify the air through the removal of benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and nitrogen oxides. Snake plant is a CAM plant, it converts lot of carbon-di-oxide to oxygen and release to air at night time. The snake plant does well in window light and needs to be watered weekly. For one person, 6-8 plants are needed to survive if there is no air flow. Ideal place is bedroom. It is best suited for bathrooms as it can survive in low light and humid conditions.
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii): It is one of the NASA’s best-known cleansing plants for removing common house hold toxins. It can improve indoor air quality to an extent of 60 per cent. It is also known to absorb harmful vapours from alcohol and acetone.  It is easy to grow plant with pretty white flowers as well as abundant dark green leaves. Ideal place is living room and bed room.
Money plant (Epipremnum aureum): It is a tropical vine plant. It is also known as Devil ivy and golden pothos. It is an evergreen plant with heart shaped leaves. Money plant bears the maximum benefits when it is grown as indoor plant. As per the report of NASA, the Money Plant is renowned for its ability to remove airbone pollutants from indoor air such as benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene. So that, it works as a natural air purifier by filtering air and increasing oxygen inflow to reduce anxiety and stress. It prefers in indirect light and watering should be done weekly basis. For one person, three 18inch plants are recommended.
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum): The spider plant is considered among the easiest air-purifying plants to grow. It is effective in removing harmful chemicals from the air, such as carbon monoxide, xylene, formaldehyde and toluene. According to NASA reports, the spider plant is among the top 3 types of houseplants that are great at removing formaldehyde, which is a common household chemical and generally found in manufactured wood products, plastic products, pesticides, leather goods, adhesives, clothing and drapes, etc. This plant is commonly found in NE region. Apart from this benefit, it also increases the humidity. The increased humidity decreases the risk of several airborne diseases, such as cold, cough, sore throat and flu-like symptoms. Growing spider plants at home or office helps in keeping these diseases away and helps increase the concentration and productivity.
Areca Palm/ feather palm/ golden yellow palm (Dypsis lutescens): It is one of the best air purifiers or indoor plants to clean the air. It releases oxygen and increasing its level in the area where it is kept and also filtered harmful indoor air pollutants like acetone, xylene, and toluene which emits from petroleum products and paints, and wooden furniture. Keeping two large houseplants like areca palm in 100 square feet area can enhance oxygen levels in the surrounding.
Aloe Vera: It is a succulent plant. They grow quite slowly and have thick fleshy spear like leaves. This succulent has the ability to purify the air of formaldehyde and benzene, found in varnishes, floor finishes, and detergents. Aloe vera removes volatile organic compounds from air and absorbs carbon dioxide and releases an abundant amount of oxygen in the night time. This plant will thrive in a sunny location and it does not require frequent watering.
Tulsi or Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum). It is largely found in Sikkim. It is known as oxygen generator and gives out oxygen for 20-24 hours in a day as well as ozone for 4 hours a day. It also absorbs harmful gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide and release oxygen during the night time.
Conclusion: Physical health is more important in this pandemic situation, but we cannot overlook the importance of mental health too. In times of stress and chaos, plants are known to have calming qualities and relieve stress. They also present the opportunity for distraction in these times of isolation, giving people purpose and hope.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi