5 surprising health benefits of house plants

snake plant mothers tongue
monstera leaf cheese plant

Plants are better than people.

I am slowly filling my apartment with plants – they are my green little plant babies. It all started when I went to university and I was given a little venus fly trap for my window sill. I called him Monty – he was great, Cacti and succulents as they were things I really could’t kill were next but now that I’m more settled and I finally have room for plants! My boyfriend thinks my obsession with Garden Centres and plants is thoroughly out of control but I just have this to say… plants are healthy.

How many plants will make a difference?

  • 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 that greenery is in constant view.
  • To purify air, use 15 to 18 plants in 6- to 8-inch diameter pots for an 1,800-square-foot house. That’s roughly one larger plant every 100 square feet. Achieve similar results with two smaller plants (4- to 5-inch pots).

They will help with dry skin…

As part of the photosynthetic and respiratory processes, plants release moisture vapor, which increases humidity of the air around them. Plants release roughly 97 percent 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.

Plants are good for breathing easier

With Asthma I need all the help breathing that I can get – as far as I can understand people and plants are natural companions. When we breathe, our bodies 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. More oxygen is a good thing!

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. 

Purifying the air around you

Plants remove toxins from air – up to 87 percent 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. So the perfect place for plants is in your office or study.

Sharpening focus

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

Improving your overall 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 Agricultural University of Norway, sickness rates fell by more than 60 percent in offices with plants.

1 Comment

  1. August 8, 2016 / 5:42 pm

    I moved to Manchester in January this year and I’m yet to buy a house plant. I’ve been meaning to pick up a pack of succulents in IKEA with each and every visit; yet I’m always seduced by glassware/cutlery/picture frames and stationery, then somehow forget the greenery in my rush to checkout and go eat IKEA chicken meatballs from the fast-food kiosk as I leave (true story). I’m going to set an alarm next time, to remind me half an hour in – BUY PLANTS (OR ELSE!)