8 Benefits of Houseplants

Plants are more than pretty. They also confer an array of benefits to your health, well-being and the environment.

Much research has confirmed these benefits, leading to a central role for interior landscaping in the design of all homes and buildings where people live and work. Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is an increasingly prevalent problem produced from prolonged exposure to indoor spaces.

Scientists believe the presence of houseplants in these spaces can reduce the likelihood and incidence of SBS thanks to improvements in air quality, humidity, light control and background noise. Other benefits of houseplants extend to the quality of life issues like peace and quiet and improved memory, concentration, creativity and productivity.

Some of the most common and beneficial houseplants to have in your home include spider plants, English ivy, philodendrons and snake plants. Also, beneficial for a variety of reasons are dragon trees, gerbera daisies, Boston ferns and peace lilies. See how you can benefit from having houseplants present in your home with the eight advantages listed below.

1. Stress Reduction

The feeling many people naturally observe when surrounded by nature is no accident or figment of their imagination. Research has shown live plants in your surroundings can help make you feel more at ease in your environment. Plants help to make a space feel at once more soothing, relaxing, interesting and stimulating. The invoking of open nature in an artificial, man-made space helps you to relax while the colors, shapes and aliveness of the plants help to make the environment more stimulating. Plants lower stress levels and improve well-being in indoor spaces containing live plants.

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Tending houseplants has also been associated with improved mental wellness by combatting feelings of depression and boosting a sense of optimism. Tending plants can be cathartic, calming and capable of increasing self-esteem and your sense of control over your own life. The simple act of focusing on something like a plant can help a person reach a meditative, reflective state he or she would not normally seek out without the presence of a houseplant.

2. Air Purification

Plants improve air quality in a room. People breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, while plants do the reverse, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, making for a perfect reciprocal balance. Moreover, the large surface areas of plants encourage greater exchanges of water and gases with the surrounding environment, serving to produce a number of beneficial results, including the following:

  • Reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) levels
  • Increased humidity
  • Reduced air temperatures
  • Lower levels of air pollutants
  • Decreased levels of airborne dust

3. Humidity and Light Control

Plants improve humidity in indoor environments, releasing back into the air 97 percent of the water you feed it. The result is moister, less dry air, decreasing the likelihood of sore throats, colds, coughs, the flu and dry skin. This feature is better than any automatic heating and cooling system. To grow plants, you will allow more natural light into a space, which has similar and related positive effects on the people as in plants. If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, then you and the plants will appreciate the additional light.

4. Improved Respiration

In addition to helping make the air less dry and more humid, houseplants also cut down on airborne dust particles responsible for causing allergies and chronic respiratory problems. Plants even cut down on the levels of various pollutants in the area. As many as 87 percent of the disease-causing volatile organic compounds in the air, like nitrogen dioxide, benzene and formaldehyde, plants filter out as part of their respiratory processes. In fact, certain plants such as ferns, spider plants, English Ivy and snake plants are among the best. As a bonus, these plants are not fussy, and you would have to work hard to kill them.

5. Allergy Protection

Beyond just removing the dust particles known to cause and aggravate allergies, houseplants improve allergic conditions and prevent future allergies from forming overall. Children exposed to the allergens from plants at an early age are more tolerant of allergens and immune to common allergy-causing elements and compounds. As such, they are less likely to develop allergies even later in their lives, while allergies they do develop are much less severe.

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If you expose yourself to small plants throughout the year, then you expose yourself to their allergens, which has similar effects to those of taking an allergy shot. When peak allergy seasons like spring and fall roll around, you are much less likely to develop allergies or exhibit severe allergic symptoms.

6. Noise Reduction

Plants are known to reduce noise levels both from busy streets outside a building and from the activity and utility infrastructure within a building. The leaves, stems, flowers and roots of a plant and the soil and pots in which plants grow serve to reflect, diffract and/or absorb sound from the environment. A decrease in background noise offers greater comfort levels for people in those environments. Moreover, research in London found particular plants useful for absorbing particularly high auditory frequencies. Even if background noise does not bother you, prolonged exposure to it can weaken your immune system and promote health problems.

7. Increased Focus

Scientific studies have found an improvement in student performance when plants were present in the environment. Part of the reason for this is a measured increase in focus in these settings. England’s Royal College of Agriculture found a 70 percent improvement in student attentiveness in classrooms with houseplants. Also, attendance levels were  higher in these environments. Increases in productivity, memory and creativity occurred.

8. Improved Health

Research has found houseplants beneficial in cutting down recovery time during an illness and lowering the prevalence of even becoming sick in the first place. Among this research are studies finding hospital patients recover quicker and more fully in settings with live plants. Hospital patients exhibited improved blood pressure test results, felt less anxious and fatigued, made fewer requests for pain medications and left the hospital sooner. Several other studies have found workers take fewer sick days when there are indoor plants in the office.

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