5 Benefits of Houseplants

When you embellish interior spaces with houseplants, you're not just adding greenery. These living organisms interact with your body, mind and home in ways that enhance the quality of life.

 

Breathing Easier

When you breathe, your body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This opposite pattern of gas use makes plants and people natural partners. Adding plants to interior spaces can increase oxygen levels.At night, photosynthesis ceases, and plants typically respire like humans, absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. A few plants –orchids, succulents and epiphytic bromeliads –do just the opposite, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Place these plants in bedrooms to refresh air during the night.

 

Releasing Water

As part of the photosynthetic and respiratory processes, plants release moisture vapor, which increases humidity of the air around them. Plants release roughly 97% of the water they take in. Place several plants together, and you can increase the humidity of a room, which helps keeps respiratory distresses at bay. Studies at the Agricultural University of Norway document that using plants in interior spaces decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs.

 

Purifying Air

Plants remove toxins from air –up to 87% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours, according to NASA research. VOCs include substances like formaldehyde (present in rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke and grocery bags), benzene and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents and paint). Benzene is commonly found in high concentrations in study settings, where books and printed papers abound.

Modern climate-controlled, air-tight buildings trap VOCs inside. The NASA research discovered that plants purify that trapped air by pulling contaminants into soil, where root zone microorganisms convert VOCs into food for the plant.

 

Improving Health

Adding plants to hospital rooms speeds recovery rates of surgical patients, according to researchers at Kansas State University. Compared to patients in rooms without plants, patients in rooms with plants request less pain medication, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less fatigue and anxiety, and are released from the hospital sooner.

The Dutch Product Board for Horticulture commissioned a workplace study that discovered that adding plants to office settings decreases fatigue, colds, headaches, coughs, sore throats and flu-like symptoms. In another study by the AgriculturalUniversity of Norway, sickness rates fell by more than 60 percent in offices with plants.

 

Sharpening Focus

A study at The Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England, found that students demonstrate 70% greater attentiveness when they're taughtin rooms containing plants. In the same study, attendance was also higher for lectures given in classrooms with plants.

 

How Many Plants?

The recommendations vary based on your goals.
To improve health and reduce fatigue and stress, place one large plant (8-inch diameter pot or larger) every 129 square feet. In office or classroom settings, position plants so each person has greenery in view.
To purify air, use 15-18 plants in 6-8-inch diameter pots for an 1,800-square-foot house. That's roughly one largerplant every 100 square feet. Achieve similar results with two smaller plants (4-5-inch pots).

Remember that for the best success with any houseplant, you need to match the right plant to the right growing conditions. Learn more in Tips for Healthy Houseplants. For low light situations, choose a plant adapted to those conditions 

 

Best Plants for Indoor Use

 

  Common Name Latin Name Benefits Best use

 

 

Spider Plant

 

 

Chlorophytum comosum

 

 

Purifies air rapidly; removes formaldehyde

 

 

Living spaces

 

Dragon Tree1

 

Dracaena marginata

 

 

Purifies air; removes formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and xylene

 

Living spaces

 

Gerbera Daisy2

 

Gerbera jamesonii

 

Releases oxygen at night; purifies air by removing benzene and trichloroethylene

 

Bedrooms to refresh nighttime air or living spaces

 

English Ivy

Hedera helix

 

Removes benzene from air

 

Dorm rooms or home office

 

Boston Fern

 

Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis'

 

Humidifies air

 

Living spaces; note that dry winter rooms can quickly kill Boston ferns; mist plants daily for best results

 

Philodendron3

 

Philodendron

 

Purifies air; removes

formaldehyde

 

Living spaces of new or renovated homes with new floors, walls, carpets, etc.

 

Snake Plant

 

Sansevieria trifasciata

 

Purifies air; removes formaldehyde and nitrogen oxide

produced by fuel-burning appliances

 

Living spaces, kitchens, rooms with wood stoves

 

Peace Lily

 

Spathiphyllum

 

 

Removes mold from air

 

Bathrooms or damp areas of

home

         

1Other Dracaenas with similar properties: Janet Craig Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis'Janet Craig') and corn plant (Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana').

2Gerberas make temperamental houseplants; getting them to rebloom is very challenging. It's best to treat them like cut flowers: When the color show is over, unless you love the leaves, compost them.

3Plants with similar properties: Pothos,Bamboo Palm,Chinese Evergreen,And Weeping Fig