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Plants that thrive in air-conditioned environments typically have a few common characteristics. They are generally tolerant of lower humidity and cooler temperatures, and they can adapt to less natural light, as indoor spaces often provide. Here are some of the best plants for air-conditioned environments:
- Snake Plant (Sansevieria): Extremely hardy and can tolerate low light and irregular watering. It's also known for its air-purifying qualities.
- ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia): This plant is known for its ability to withstand low light and infrequent watering, making it ideal for air-conditioned spaces.
- Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum): It's adaptable to a variety of conditions and can tolerate some degree of neglect. Spider plants are also great for improving indoor air quality.
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum): While it prefers higher humidity, it can adapt to lower levels. Peace lilies are also known for their air-purifying abilities and they can thrive in low light.
- Philodendron: There are many varieties of philodendrons, and most are quite adaptable to indoor conditions, including air-conditioned environments.
- Pothos (Epipremnum aureum): This is a very hardy plant that can tolerate low light and sporadic watering, making it suitable for air-conditioned rooms.
- English Ivy (Hedera helix): Known for its ability to clean the air, it can adapt to indoor environments, though it prefers a bit more humidity.
- Dracaena: This plant comes in many varieties and can tolerate low light and lower humidity, common in air-conditioned spaces.
- Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica): It’s a hardy plant that can tolerate lower light and cooler temperatures, making it suitable for air-conditioned rooms.
- Succulents and Cacti: Many varieties can do well in air-conditioned spaces, as they are adapted to survive in harsh, dry conditions. However, they do need a good amount of light. If your cool environment is also lacking in natural light, consider a grow fixture! The Grove™ LED Grow Bar Light is a great option!
When keeping plants in air-conditioned environments, it's important to monitor their watering needs, as the cooler temperatures can slow down the rate of soil drying. Additionally, providing them with adequate light, whether natural or through grow lights, will help them thrive. Regularly checking for signs of stress or pests is also recommended to keep your plants healthy.
Why would you need to keep plants in such cool spaces?
Consider the moments you have felt chilly indoors, and think about the damper that sensation can put on your mood. Often, these areas are places you want to feel some sort of comfort, or are spending some extensive period of time in. Here are some examples of air conditioned spaces that would benefit from the introduction of plants, especially since the thermostat likely won’t be budging anytime soon.
Hotels have many rooms to heat large and varied spaces, while also maintaining standardized conditions which will help them save on energy costs. There is a perception that colder spaces are cleanlier, as the chill reduces humidity and even inhibits the growth of bacteria and pathogens. As well, many guests prefer to sleep at cooler temperatures.
Hospitals and Laboratories:
Many areas in hospitals and laboratories are kept cold to prevent the growth of bacteria and to preserve the integrity of samples and medications. Operating rooms, in particular, are often air-conditioned to lower temperatures for both equipment functionality and infection control.
Dine-In Eating and Restaurants:
Commercial kitchens, particularly those in restaurants and hotels, often have very powerful air conditioning systems to counteract the heat generated by cooking equipment. Walk-in refrigerators and freezers in these kitchens are kept at very low temperatures to preserve food safety and quality.
Retail Stores, Especially Large Supermarkets:
Large supermarkets, especially those with extensive refrigerated and frozen food sections, are often quite cold. This is to maintain the temperature requirements for perishable goods and to counterbalance the heat generated by lighting and the presence of customers.
Perhaps the most commonly cold and uncomfortable space, most Americans spend about ⅓ of their day in the office. While air conditioning is often implemented to create a comfortable setting, the lower temperatures are often believed to boost alertness and productivity.
Cinemas and Theaters:
Movie theaters and performance theaters are often kept at cooler temperatures. This is partly due to the large number of people that can occupy these spaces, which can raise the temperature, and also for the comfort of the audience during extended sitting periods.
Obviously, working out generally involves working up a sweat. Cooler temperatures do more than just cool you down, however. They can also improve performance, reduce the risk of heat related illness, and mitigate odors while contributing to better air quality and hygiene.
How can plants help?
Why would plants benefit cooler spaces, especially the ones which are kept cooler for the comfort of those within them? Well, the answer is that while many people see chilly rooms as ideal in areas like office buildings, hotel rooms, and gyms because of concerns regarding hygiene or healthier work and sleep patterns, they do not necessarily associate this temperature with a feeling of homieness or comfort.
However, as our perception of what is public space and what our home is blurs, we may need to reconsider how we treat these spaces. Over the pandemic, the couch became our desk. The living room floor became the gym. Now, since the world has opened up once again, consumers are demanding those comforts out of travel destinations and other luxuries, from restaurants to yoga studios and everything in between.
While your boss may or may not allow you to go boost the thermostat to a balmy 72º, you can likely introduce some foliage which will help liven up the space while also boosting all those other health and productivity benefits linked with cold air.
Of course, now that we have discussed the more pleasant spaces on the list, lifestyle centers, it is also important to note that areas like hospitals are also typically cold and can lack natural light. Of course, this is absolutely a necessity to ensure treatments are done correctly, as the cold helps keep laboratories and equipment operational, as well as boost doctors alertness.
However, this setting can quickly zap much of the enthusiasm out of patients who are held for any extended period of time. While the introduction of plant life may be a nice addition to recreational and retail spaces, it is in many ways necessary in healthcare facilities.
Improved Air Quality:
Plants are known for their ability to purify the air. They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis. Additionally, some plants can remove toxic agents such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene from the air. This can be particularly valuable in a hospital setting, where clean, fresh air is essential for patient health.
Numerous studies have shown that the presence of plants in hospital rooms can have a positive impact on patient recovery. Plants can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, leading to improved mental well-being. Seeing greenery and having a connection to nature can be soothing for patients who are coping with illness or recovery.
Reduced Perception of Pain:
Some research suggests that patients in rooms with plants or those who have a view of nature require less pain medication and have shorter hospital stays. The natural elements seem to have a positive distraction effect, reducing patients' focus on pain and discomfort.
Enhanced Aesthetic Environment:
Plants can enhance the overall aesthetics of a hospital. They bring a touch of warmth and life to what can often be a sterile and intimidating environment. This can make hospitals feel more welcoming and less clinical, which can be comforting for both patients and their families.
Promote Healing Environment:
The concept of biophilia suggests that humans have an innate connection to nature and natural processes, which can promote healing. The presence of plants in hospital rooms and common areas can create a more natural, healing-oriented environment.
Improved Staff Wellbeing:
The benefits of plants aren’t limited to patients. Hospital staff, who often work long hours under stressful conditions, can also experience reduced stress and improved job satisfaction in a more natural, green environment.
Plants have been shown to have some ability to absorb sound, potentially reducing ambient noise levels in hospital corridors and rooms. This can create a more peaceful environment conducive to patient recovery.
Plants, Ambiance, and Mental Health:
Plants add vibrancy and life to dull and drab environments. Whether or not one prefers the cold, no one loves the feeling of being stuck in a sterile, dark, boring room for too long. The wonderful thing about plants is that they can fit into any set up, and also add some vibrancy.
Plants also boost productivity, making them ideal to incorporate into any place you could use a little inspiration to get going on work. Really, plants are just a beautiful element, one which can be enjoyed while easing off the thermostat- or to help improve the mood if the setting is going to stay as is.
While work spaces and hospitals are incredibly important spaces to boost all these benefits within, it is also important to remember they are just as important in more individualized or solitary spaces, as well. Do you sleep cold to optimize your circadian rhythm? Well, plants have been shown to aid in relaxation, and even reduce the frequency of nightmares. Try going greener in your bedroom and see how much brighter your days are, after more restful nights.
Libraries, as well, are often cold and quiet to optimize focus and preserve the books. Keep any collection, be it private or public, in pristine condition while also livening up the shelves. Maintain a colder environment with these hardier plants to help to regulate humidity for your hardcover collection, without having to sacrifice decor. Besides, what is a good book without a soft, warm blanket anyway? Create the optimal conditions to enjoy every aspect of your book nook, while also saving on the energy bill.
Do you live in a drafty house, or perhaps a poorly insulated apartment? What do you do when you can't escape the chill? Make your space the most aesthetically pleasing and emotionally comfortable place possible by installing green elements to help calm stresses.
How to Keep Plants in Other Inhospitable Environments
Unfortunately, while keeping plants in cool and potentially light lacking environments is possible, it is not easy. Here are some tips and recommendations from soltech to help make your journey a little bit simpler.
Maximize Available Light:
Place plants near windows or areas where they can receive some indirect sunlight. Even low-light plants need some light to survive. If natural light is insufficient, consider using grow lights. LED grow lights can provide the spectrum of light that plants need. We recommend our flagship product, the Aspect™ Hanging Grow Light Pendant!
Monitor Watering Needs:
Plants in cooler and darker environments will need less water, as the soil takes longer to dry out. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues. Check the soil moisture before watering – the top inch should be dry to the touch.
Cold, dark places can often be dry. Some plants, especially tropical varieties, might require higher humidity. You can increase humidity by grouping plants together, using a humidifier, or placing a water tray near the plants.
While some plants can tolerate cooler temperatures, most houseplants cannot survive in freezing conditions. Keep them in a space that stays above freezing and is free from drafts or sudden temperature changes.
Plants in low-light conditions grow more slowly and therefore need less fertilizer. Over-fertilizing can harm them. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer at half the recommended strength and less frequently than you would for plants in brighter, warmer conditions.
Pruning helps to keep plants healthy. Remove dead or yellowing leaves to encourage new growth and improve air circulation.
Be Alert to Pests and Diseases:
Plants in less-than-ideal conditions can be more susceptible to pests and diseases. Regularly inspect your plants and treat any problems promptly.
Use Reflective Surfaces:
Placing plants near reflective surfaces, like mirrors or white walls, can help increase light exposure.
Regularly rotate your plants to ensure all sides receive equal light exposure, promoting even growth
Don’t fight the chill, just go green and get a really big blanket! Plants make everyone more comfortable, no matter the temperature!