Have you ever noticed your mood changing when you walk into a room? It might be hard at first to put your finger on the cause of this sudden mood swing, but you could put it down to the colours used in that room. From the shade of paint on the walls, to the colour of the furniture, these seemingly trivial aspects can actually have a big impact on the way you feel.
This connection between colour and mood has been harnessed for use in colour therapy, a treatment which actually dates back thousands of years. According to research, photo (light) therapy was utilised by the ancient Egyptians, Greek, Chinese and Indians, and colour has been investigated as a medicine since 2000 B.C.
These days, colour therapy is seen as an experimental treatment in Western medicine, but there are many that stand by its benefits for those with low mood, mild anxiety, stress and other mental health issues. Some therapists may even prescribe colour therapy in conjunction with other activities, such as walking in a forest to get the benefit of exercise, fresh air and exposure to the colour green for stress relief.
The theory is that each colour has a unique wavelength and frequency which create an electrical impulse in our brain, stimulating hormonal and biochemical processes within our body that have a mood altering effect. Some therapists also believe that shining a coloured light on a particular part of the body may cure an ailment in that area.
What does this have to do with plants?
By carefully choosing the colour of the plants we use in our gardens and homes – that means blooms AND foliage – we can improve the way these environments make us feel. If you’re always walking into your garden, or your kitchen to check on your houseplants, and it’s making you feel lacklustre and uninspired, you could do with introducing more colour into your plant collection!
Certain colours can lift your mood and make you feel more positive, while others can make you feel inspired, energised and even calm. Just as you would paint your walls to reflect the mood that you would like to feel in that room, you can use plants to influence your emotions.
The plants I’ll be using to demonstrate this are Kalanchoe! Most commonly known as a houseplant, these are just as happy outdoors for the summer (aren’t we all??)… and will give more than 100 days of flowers, with minimum of fuss. Being a succulent means their watering demands are very minimal, so that’s great news too!
Which colours should I use?
The colours that you use in your home and garden should reflect your current state and desired outcome. For example, if you’re feeling low in motivation and energy, use red plants to provide a boost!
Here are some colours of Kalanchoe that you may want to consider using in your home or on the patio and balcony:
Red is a vibrant, powerful colour for an instant energy boost. Try popping some red Kalanchoes in pots on balconies or terraces during the summer months – not only will they energise the space, but as a succulent, they will bloom for 100 days with little watering, perfect for busy lives.
Yellow is a positive, welcoming colour – a cheery smile – so vibrant yellow plants such as Petunias or Pansies in hanging baskets in a porch will instantly brighten your mood as you arrive home. Or try Narcissus (Daffodils) in borders for uplifting pops of colour.
White is a pure, fresh colour that signals new beginnings. It’s ideal if you want to move past a difficult situation in your life, or if you’ve just moved somewhere new and want to give yourself the best start.
Soft pink is a nurturing, compassionate colour, ideal for a dose of self-care. Peonies, with their beautiful blush pink flowers, will give you a gorgeous splash of colour in late Spring, or Salvia ‘Mirage’ in soft pink is a subtle evergreen plant with beautifully fragrant foliage.
Purple is great for quiet contemplation, making it a good colour choice for a sunny reading spot on a terrace or balcony to create a sense of calm.
Orange elicits fun and playfulness to help you feel light-hearted and upbeat. It also encourages social conversation, making it a great accent colour for outdoor dining areas. Small orange Kalanchoes (Flaming Katy) make brilliant, bright garden table centre pieces, or try growing impressive Orange Foxtail Lilies or Gladiolus ‘Prince Of Orange’ at the back of borders to create a fun talking point.
Plants for every colour mood
If you want to lift your mood with some colour therapy, these Kalanchoe allow you to introduce colour quickly and easily – perfect if you’re renting and can’t change the colour of the walls in your home or don’t want to plant too many plants.
In terms of indoor use, most houseplants primarily feature green foliage, but you can find many with beautiful flowers in every colour imaginable! Kalanchoes (AKA Flaming Katy) are one of the most colourful flowering houseplants available, with an array of mood-boosting colours from vivid pinks, oranges, and yellows through to creamy whites and pale pinks.
If you’re new to houseplant, don’t worry; as a succulent, they are easy to care for – just a weekly water will do, and this will allow the plants to maintain blooms for 100 days.
As well as living happily inside all year round, Kalanchoes have been found to bloom happily outside in garden pots or window boxes from May to September, when there is no risk of frost. Plant them in a sunny position, and they will flower for 8-10 weeks. Change up that usual outdoor scheme!
Where to buy them
Unlike other houseplants, Kalanchoes are inexpensive, and widely available from florists, supermarkets and garden centres. You can even buy them with your online grocery delivery from Waitrose or Sainsbury’s!