You’ve probably heard that plants are good for you, but what exactly does it mean? Plants do their magic silently, and while their beneficial effect on any well-arranged interior is easy to notice with the naked eye, they also help us in a number of ways we can’t really see – and probably don’t even realize.
So let’s bring these ways out into the open! You may find them listed differently on different websites and in various publications but generally speaking, health benefits of indoor plants can be grouped into six essential categories.
1. Cleaner air
Our modern lifestyle means that we surround ourselves with countless objects and substances, many of which – carpets, paint, grocery bags, printer toners – give off pollutants known jointly as VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. To make matters worse, we also breathe – and in the process, we release carbon dioxide. All these toxins and pollutants are then trapped in our cozy, largely air-tight interiors, irritating our skin and eyes, making it harder to breathe.
This is where houseplants come in – if you put them in the room in the first place, that is. They soak up VOCs and rid the air of common pollutants, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. For a real change in air quality, put a few large or medium plants in your room and keep their leaves free of dust, but also make sure you expose them to natural sunlight by putting them outdoors every now and then.
2. Healthier & happier minds
Somewhat surprisingly perhaps, indoor plants have also been proven to have a positive influence on our mental and emotional health, to the extent that gardening is now used by therapists all over the world to help treat psychiatric conditions such as depression and schizophrenia. While it may not be enough to heal a patient completely, greenery is recognized as a great way to assist the healing process and is therefore a frequent sight in many health centers.
It is also believed that adding plants to offices brings similar results, with employees starting to feel better about their job and even taking fewer sick days. So go ahead – liven up your place with colorful flowers or plants and let them lift your mood!
3. Less stress
In a similar vein, various studies have revealed that plants have a calming effect on us, and when we’re around them we tend to have slower heart rates and healthier levels of blood pressure – especially when we’re feeling stressed or anxious. While the reasons for this haven’t been clearly determined, scientists believe it may be that plants were part of our natural habitat for countless millennia during our evolution, and we simply feel at home when we’re surrounded by some familiar greenery.
Another practical aspect of having plants is that you have to look after them, giving you a great opportunity to take your mind off your problems and provide your body with some good old physical exercise. Nothing quite like a bit of gardening to forget about your worries!
4. Sharper focus
Numerous studies have shown that our productivity increases by up to 15 percent as soon as greenery is added to our room’s décor, and our attention span is also extended by a similar margin. With plants around, we seem to find it easier to stay focused on the task at hand and memorize things; students routinely perform better in tests when plants keep them company.
Having issues with productivity and consistency at work? Put a small plant on your desk – perhaps an easy-care succulent if you can’t afford more time – and you will soon find out that plants are much more than just decoration.
5. More regenerative sleep
Because they’re such great recyclers of carbon dioxide and producers of oxygen, plants are a healthy addition to any bedroom. They are known to improve the quality of our sleep and contrary to popular myths, they are not really dangerous for us at night. While it’s true that most plants emit carbon dioxide after the sun goes down, the amount of CO2 they give off is much lower than what humans and pets produce – so from the standpoint of air quality, you’re better off sharing your bedroom with plants than with any other living beings.
To keep things balanced, get a few plants which actually release oxygen at night, such as snake plant, areca palm or aloe vera. Whichever plants you put in your bedroom though, the bottom line is that you will sleep more soundly and wake up more rested than with no plants in the room.
6. Quicker recovery
Plants can also help you recover from illness or injury faster, also if your treatment required a surgery. Researchers at Kansas State University found that adding plants to hospital rooms accelerates recovery rates for surgical patients, with patients needing less painkillers and having better heart rates and blood pressure with greenery in their rooms. Turns out there’s even more wisdom behind bringing flowers to hospital patients than we used to think!
On top of that, plants are also known to provide allergy relief as well as keep other respiratory problems at bay – which makes a lot of sense as they release 97 percent of the water they take in, meaning that they can’t help it but increase air humidity. Other plants have direct physical healing capabilities, for instance aloe vera – commonly used to soothe skin irritations and heal sunburns.
You may notice there’s some overlap here, but that’s only because all these health benefits of indoor plants really feed off of each other, and at the end of the day this is a no-brainer here: indoor plants are easily worth the extra effort, and they’ll pay you back in more ways than you can fully grasp.
If you’re now looking to add some plants to your décor, here’s a guide on how to use plants in interior design. And you will surely need a couple of pretty planters to put them in, so make sure you also check out our collection of universal flower pots!