Houseplants can do a lot more than look great in your home; they also offer several benefits for your health and well-being.
As a plant nursery worker, I’ve seen firsthand how indoor plants help reduce chronic health issues such as depression and anxiety. But don’t take my word for it. Scientific bodies like NASA have proven that indoor gardening can improve psychological and physical well-being.
Here are seven science-backed benefits of houseplants:
- Reduce stress and anxiety.
- Improve concentration and productivity.
- Improve indoor air quality.
- Improve quality of sleep.
- Improve indoor air humidity.
- Reduce noise pollution.
- Reduce indoor allergens.
Reduce stress and anxiety
Plants are a natural stress reliever. A lot of people recognize this, whether they’ve bothered to check for scientific evidence or not. This is why activities like gardening or taking walks in the park are associated with serenity and calmness of mind.
A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology in 2015 confirmed that indoor plants do help with stress reduction. In the study, the group that was charged with repotting a houseplant had a lower stress response compared to the other group, which was assigned a computer task.
Houseplants can also improve your mental health and well-being. Another study published in 2017 maintained that they could help reduce depression, anxiety, and dementia. Taking care of plants can give you a sense of purpose, which can subsequently help remove your mind from disturbing thoughts.
Improve concentration and productivity
Having a green space can do your brain a lot of good. One study published in 2019 confirmed that students who studied with real plants were more attentive and focused compared to students who studied with none.
Another one published in 2007 revealed that people with more plants in their workspace were generally more productive and took fewer sick days. This gives credit to the recent trend of tech offices with very green workspaces.
Working on the computer is draining, but having your office look like a tropical oasis could just make it easier to stay focused.
Improve indoor air quality
NASA has been studying how plants can improve the quality of indoor air since the 1980s, and they’ve come up with a lot of answers. Their studies have shown that certain indoor plants are very good at removing air pollutants.
The snake plant, for instance, has been approved as an air purifier by NASA for its ability to remove toxins such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. Another study from Virginia Tech also confirmed that houseplants can eliminate indoor dust by 20%.
Many man-made materials that we use everyday release pollutants into the air. Keeping plants within your immediate surroundings to counter this effect can increase your life expectancy.
Improve quality of sleep
Exposure to high levels of oxygen at night can make you sleep better, according to a recent study. Since plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the environment, it then makes sense to have them around if you want proper sleep.
Also, some exotic indoor plants like lavender and lemon balm have properties that can promote better sleep when inhaled.
Improve indoor air humidity
Apart from releasing oxygen, plants also release water vapor into the air to increase the level of humidity. This will be helpful in the dry winter season when you keep your electric heating systems on. The heating system blasts hot, dry air that can damage and dry out your skin.
By keeping the air humid, indoor plants can protect you from parched skin and dry hair. Another benefit of this is that it protects your respiratory system. Dry air can worsen respiratory conditions and lead to illnesses like sore throats. Having plants around will help you stay protected by reducing the drying effects of heating systems.
Reduce Noise Pollution
Trees are generally known to help reduce noise pollution. They do this through a process called sound attenuation, which reduces the intensity of sound.
So, if you live in an urban area where there is likely to be a lot of noise pollution, keeping plants around can help reduce the disturbance. The best types of plants to use are those with broad leaves, like the Swiss cheese plant or elephant ears.
Place them against your window or close to an entrance, and they can help mask the sound from busy highways, traffic, noisy neighbors, and loud electronics.
Reduce Indoor Allergens
Since houseplants help clean the air and reduce dust in the atmosphere, they can reduce the allergens that might originate from the artificial materials in your home. While they won’t totally free you from allergies, some plants can help by filtering mold spores, chemical residues, and air pollutants in general.
For instance, the bamboo palm, one of the exotic indoor plants, is known to remove harmful chemicals like xylene and toluene from the air. This makes it useful for reducing the symptoms of asthma and related allergies.
Other plants that can help with allergies include the English ivy, the Chinese evergreen, and the Gerbera daisy