Physical and Mental Benefits of Having Houseplants
If you care for your plants, they’ll care for you right back.
When you’re learning to care for plants — watering, fertilizing, pruning, repotting and more — it’s easy to overlook how much your plants may actually be caring for you. There’s a reason we prefer apartments and houses with lots of windows, and envy the coworker with a view of the outdoors. Greenery and nature are good for us in more ways than one, and houseplants allow us to bring those benefits indoors.
Air conditioning and heaters make a home more comfortable, but they sap all the humidity from a room. Indoor plants boost humidity and filter the air, reducing respiratory irritants in the room and improving your overall health.
Studies from the Agricultural University of Norway found that having plants in your space decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs. A workplace study discovered that plants can remove up to 10% of carbon dioxide in the air, and that rates of sickness fell by more than 60% in offices with plants. To boost air quality in your home or workspace, The Lung Health Institute recommends money plants, areca palms, and sansevierias.
In fact, plants are even being used in hospitals to help patients heal. Kansas State University researchers found that hospitalized patients with plants in their rooms needed less pain medication, had lower blood pressure, and felt less fatigue while recovering from surgery than patients with no greenery in their rooms. They even got to go home earlier.
How are all these physical health benefits even possible? Many scientists believe that nature and plants reduce anxiety (and therefore things like blood pressure and heart rate), which supports immune health and allows the body to heal and stay well.
As good as plants are for the body, those benefits stem from the mind. Just like you may feel calmer after checking your plants’ soil for watering or pruning off dry leaves, studies have proven that time around houseplants really can relax you.
For example, when plants were placed in common areas of a heart and lung rehab center in Norway, patients reported a higher sense of well-being compared to patients who didn’t have greenery in their communal spaces. In another experiment, residents in an assisted-living facility potted plants and learned to care for them independently, and many reported that their quality of life improved. The researchers believe this was due to a feeling of accomplishment, or simply because it’s in human nature to want something to nurture.
Some therapists even recommend gardening to help cope with depression and other conditions. Whether you add plants to your home for your mental health or just for the #aesthetic, know that they’ve got your back (and your brain) either way.
Many of us start adding plants to our homes simply because they’re beautiful. Interior designers everywhere agree that adding greenery to a space gives it life and they go with any décor. But it turns out that having plants around you can help you be more focused at work or more creative when practicing your hobbies.
Take this study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, for instance. College students were asked to perform critical thinking tasks in an office with greenery, and others tried the same challenges in an office without plants. Guess who had the longer attention span and better outcomes? Now imagine putting that brain power to work on your latest passion project or work to-do list.
So, the next time you have to move a plant into a bigger pot or break out the fertilizer, remember all the things it does for your health each day. Perhaps it will inspire you to show them some extra love, or add a few more plant friends to your collection.