Houseplants Can Improve Mental Health

Photo of houseplant suggesting houseplants can improve mental health
Photo by Christine John

I decided to hang my philodendron plant in a different place, which may have been a mistake. The other day I realized that I had missed it when watering my other plants and I cringed as I looked at the now wilted plant filled with yellow leaves. I quickly took the plant down and gave it a good watering. To my surprise it bounced back. This isn’t the only houseplant that has been neglected in recent weeks. My large areca palm has more brown leaves than green and a friend of mine recently asked me why I had so many plants to begin with. I smiled and tried to explain.

‘Something about a houseplant just makes me happy’ I told her. She looked at me with skepticism as she suggested I dump the palm and try placing something different in the pot. I’ll give it a few more months I told her. Not only does having houseplants in my home make me feel closer to nature, but it gives me a purpose as well. I knew that there was a chance that I may have to give up on the palm. But I also knew that there was a chance I would be able to save it. And that might be just the mental health boost that I needed in this dreary January in quarantine. Houseplants not only improve mental health, but they can clean the air as well making them an excellent addition to any home.

Photo of houseplant suggesting houseplants can improve mental health
Photo by Christine John

Houseplants Improve Mental Health by Reducing Feelings of Depression

Recent studies have shown that planting trees and adding green to cities are great for mental health. According to Summer Rayne Oaks, in her book How to Make a Plant Love You, one study suggests that green spaces brought a 40 percent reduction in feelings of depression and worthlessness. And we already know that a room with a view of trees can create a calming effect that suppresses the nervous system and lowers blood pressure. If spending time in outdoor green spaces and having window views of trees and gardens offers so many benefits, it only makes sense to add green to our indoor spaces as well. And what better time to green up your home than in the middle of winter?

Houseplants not only provide visual beauty but they can also absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen making the air we breathe cleaner. Extensive research by NASA has revealed that houseplants can remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in 24 hours and can reduce stress levels and boost your mood. Studies have also proven that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity by up to 15 percent. All of this provides an excellent argument for placing some plants in your home and office.

Photo of houseplant suggesting houseplants can improve mental health
Photo by Christine John

Plants Not Only Improve Mental Health but are Effective at Cleaning the Air

Some plants are more effective at cleaning the air than others and you may want to keep this in mind. Spider plants are great for removing formaldehyde from the air in your home. This is the stuff that comes from all sorts of things including paper bags, paper towels, napkins, particle board, plywood and synthetic fabrics. Snake plants are excellent for targeting carbon monoxide and other toxic air impurities including trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, toluene, benzene and xylene. These plants are also fairly easy to maintain and don’t require a lot of light.

If mold is an issue, bringing in an English ivy plant can purify up to 94 percent of airborne mold particles that can trigger allergies. Other plants that are great air cleaners include Peace lilies and Boston ferns. Boston ferns are also great at controlling humidity in the home or office. In order to really clean the air, you would need more than one plant, but I think one plant is a good place to start.

Photo of houseplant suggesting houseplants can improve mental health
Photo by Christine John

Don’t Have a Green Thumb? Start Small.

Of course there are some things to consider before purchasing a plant. Make sure you assess how much light your home gets and if you have a place to put a sun loving plant. If not, consider purchasing a houseplant that can thrive without direct sunlight, like a spider plant or philodendron. You may also take into consideration the amount of time and energy you want to put toward your plants. If you’re not a green thumb, and you have a sunny window, a succulent might be a great place to start. And just one houseplant can improve mental health and make you feel better.

Don’t have a green thumb? Start small and choose a plant that is not difficult to grow. This will help ensure success. Place your plant somewhere where you’ll see it daily so you can enjoy the benefits of looking at greenery and breathing clean air while you are also reminded to water and feed your plant. Don’t be afraid of a little trial and error. None of us really want to be responsible for killing a plant, but honestly sometimes it happens. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Who knows, you just might find yourself living in a very healthy jungle.