Indoor plants have made a massive comeback in the interior world the last few years. One might wonder why we are actually actually so attracted to houseplants. Why do they seem to just have that innate capacity to make us feel good? This article discusses four benefits of growing indoor plants in your home or office, all of them with strong scientific backing.
Houseplant benefit 1: Increased humidity
Our homes can often be overly dry, especially during the winter months. If you’ve ever dealt with low indoor humidity, you’ll know how annoying it can be. Dry lips, painful sinuses, static shocks and even frequent bloody noses are all associated with being exposed to a lack of moisture in the air for extended periods of time.
You can get a humidifier, which is something your plants will appreciate as well. But did you know placing a bunch of tropical houseplants together also creates a little microclimate with higher humidity than the surrounding space? This is often recommended to make sure the plants themselves don’t dry out, but logically it will also have a positive effect on you. Excess moisture taken in through the roots when you water is expelled through pores on the leaves, raising humidity levels. The more plants, the better the effect. Especially be sure to place them in spots where you spend a lot of time such as your desk or near your bed.
Houseplant benefit 2: Improve mental health
The act of gardening has been suggested to lower stress levels and have a calming effect by many studies. Anyone who has dabbled in indoor gardening can vouch for the fact that you don’t have to be out in the garden to feel the benefits. Caring for something that’s alive, taking your mind off the daily grind and doing something a little more mindful can be very rewarding. Additionally, just looking at the color green has a calming effect, as does being near these little pieces of nature in itself.
The mental health benefits of indoor plants apply both in the house and the office. Their soothing effect can help you relax, which can reduce stress and increase focus. Head to point 4 for more information on the latter!
Houseplant benefit 3: Improve physical health
It seems almost impossible for something like a plant to be able to improve your physical health if you’re not using it as actual medicine, but they can. It makes sense if you keep the mental health benefits in mind, because as we’re learning more and more these days, you’re not going to be physically well if you’re not mentally well.
Surrounding yourself with plants and doing some indoor gardening can lower your blood pressure, and studies have suggested that being around plants can promote healing and reduce pain in post-surgery settings. Additionally, the higher humidity point we mentioned at the start of this article helps make us feel physically better, as does the fact that houseplants produce oxygen during the day (handy in offices and other places we don’t frequent at night!).
Houseplant benefit 4: Improve concentration and productivity
As briefly mentioned before, houseplants are associated with improved concentration and productivity. Not just handy in the office, but also when you’re surrounded by them at home while trying to focus on a task related to your hobby or just a simple household activity. People just don’t seem to be designed to live and work in stark, minimalist spaces: studies have suggested, for example, that productivity will increase in ‘green offices’ compared to minimal ones.
The benefits of houseplants in this department are likely the result of a combination of the aforementioned points. If you feel better mentally you’ll feel better physically, and all of that leads to the ability to better focus on any tasks at hand. Additionally, plants can act as a sort of cushion that absorbs sound (think of when you hang curtains in a new house and suddenly all sounds are much mellower). Their leaves can absorb a nice few decibels, helping you to focus on your work or hobby rather than background noise.
Note from the author
Now that we’ve discussed several benefits of indoor plants, let’s take the time to discuss one commonly stated advantage of having them in your home that’s actually unfortunately a myth. A 1980’s NASA study is often quoted as having provided clear evidence to suggest that houseplants can contribute to cleaning the air in your home from harmful pollutants such as formaldehyde and ozone.
Now, while the study in question did suggest that houseplants can have some effect in an entirely closed off laboratory space, the effect it will have inside your home is negligible. As this article sums it up quite well, you’d have to put about 1,000 plants in a tiny office to achieve the same effect as just having a regular ventilation system. So while growing houseplants in your home has many benefits, air cleansing is unfortunately not one of them. We can’t say we mind: we love our plants all the same. We’ll just open a window for fresh air (for us and them!).
About the author
Mari is a houseplant and gardening fanatic who turned her passion into her job, helping other (indoor) gardeners with her articles for YouHadMeAtGardening. Originally from The Netherlands, she now lives in Spain with her ever-expanding plant collection and pet parakeet Esmi.