Many people think houseplants purely accent a home’s decor. They add a pop of color in a dreary corner or some texture to visually soften a space. The truth is, though, houseplants have many benefits beyond their looks, from improving air quality to soothing sunburns.
I’ll admit, I’m a little biased when it comes to houseplants. My houseplant collection started more than twenty years ago when I took my first plant class in college. My tiny (for us) little house has close to two dozen plants spread throughout the main floor. If there’s an available spot where a plant can catch some sunlight during the day, I’m taking advantage of it. While I delight in their beauty, I also appreciate the benefits they offer.
Better air quality
Perhaps the most significant benefit to having houseplants is their ability to improve your home’s air quality. When plants photosynthesize — the process where they make food — they pull in carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen. These higher oxygen levels help clear your lungs, lower your heart rate, and improve mental focus.
Houseplants also work to filter the air inside our homes. When the leaves pull in CO2, they also take in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) simultaneously. These compounds are moved to the root system, where they are converted into usable plant nutrients. This process removes almost 90% of ammonia, benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. Researchers at NASA recommend having one houseplant per 100 square feet of living space (at a minimum) to improve indoor air quality.
Higher relative humidity
Houseplants also increase the moisture held in the air, raising the relative humidity (RH). This increase in relative humidity helps reduce dry skin, coughs, colds, and sore throats.
Houseplants continuously take in water via their roots for use within plant tissues. When the leaves take in CO2, water vapor escapes through the leaves. This water loss to the air increases the RH inside your home and creates a natural gradient that pulls more water into the roots, moving it upwards through the plant.
Better mental health
Research has shown time and time again that plants make people happy. They reduce cortisol levels, tension, and anxiety, helping improve a person’s well-being. It’s no secret that plants are known to reduce stress levels, tension, and anxiety, leading to an overall improvement in your well-being. Good bacteria in the soil also promotes positive moods by creating serotonin.
Improving oxygen levels and reducing pollutants found in workplace atmospheres directly improves the productivity of employees. Plants improve concentration, spark idea generation, boost problem-solving skills, and increase attention span. They also help improve memory retention by up to 20%!
It may sound silly, but research demonstrates plants promote quicker healing and recovery after medical procedures or surgery. When patients have plants in their room, they need less pain medication and see an improvement in anxiety and fatigue. The increased oxygen levels also lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Higher quality sleep
The color green promotes relaxation, so it isn’t a surprise houseplants do the same. Having plants in your bedroom creates a calming, serene environment, and the fragrance of natural plants helps you fall asleep faster. Interacting with your plants just before bedtime (watering them, smelling the flowers, etc.) reduces stress hormones and keeps you in a deeper sleep state throughout the night.
Natural medicinal properties
Plants are known historically because of their medicinal properties. The following plants provide some natural treatment(s) for common ailments.
- Aloe vera relieves burns, moisturizes skin to prevent wrinkles, and can relieve constipation.
- Calendula acts as an anti-inflammatory to reduce pain and swelling.
- Chamomile lessens the sting of sunburns, helps you sleep, and strengthens the immune system.
- Echinacea helps fight colds and reduces inflammation.
- Peppermint soothes upset stomachs, relaxes muscle pain, and squashes bad breath.