We all know that indoor plants are beautiful to have around, providing a pop of green in your home all year long. And although they undoubtedly evolved to exist outside, indoor plants aren’t anything new.
People have been keeping plants inside for millennia: as far back as 1000 BC, people in China cultivated indoor plants as a sign of wealth and status1. More recently, enthusiastic Victorian- era gardeners continued their plant-growing passions through cold European and North American winters. Victorians loved growing plants year-round, keeping them in their homes, and championing the use of greenhouses.
Today, houseplants are having another surge in popularity, thanks in no small part to their sheer beauty. However, indoor plants are more than just nice to look at. By just being there, they can extend a number of health benefits to you and others in your home. From air purification to stress reduction to cooking, indoor plants can easily enhance your quality of life. Read on for some of the top ways that you can benefit from having indoor plants:
#1: Air Purification
One well-known benefit of having indoor plants is that they purify the air, which they do through the process of photosynthesis. It’s an incredibly under-appreciated process that allows for life as we know it—photosynthesis also provides food for us, for animals we eat, and materials we use for fuel and construction.
As you may remember from high-school science, plants photosynthesize by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere, and transforming it into sugars (food!) for themselves. Plants absorb CO2 by opening tiny pores on the surfaces of their leaves. In doing this, they also absorb other gases and tiny particles in the air—some of which are linked to certain health problems. For example, gases like nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and volatile organic carbons (formaldehyde, benzene) are linked to worsening of asthma and respiratory problems. However, they are reduced in homes with indoor plants. Dust, a common at-home allergen, is also reduced in the presence of plants. Thus, indoor plants enhance air quality in your home, simply by performing their normal everyday functions.
#2: Increasing Humidity
You’ve probably been in a house or office building that is just relentlessly dry, especially during the winter. This can be incredibly annoying if you’re like me, and susceptible to painfully dry skin and sinuses. However, plants naturally increase indoor humidity.
They absorb water from the soil through their roots, and then the water travels through the plant, allowing it to perform its normal functions (like photosynthesis). When the plant opens the pores in its leaves to absorb CO2, some of its water is lost to the air. This is how indoor air becomes more humid when you have houseplants. It’s also why you must be sure to water them, as needed!
#3: Better Mood and Less Stress
Lately, the notion of spending time outside and even “forest bathing” to enhance mood and relieve stress has become popular. But this is nothing new: people have long known that time outside, in natural areas, can have these benefits. Living and working in places with indoor plants have similar effects of heightening mood and reducing stress. Research shows that people report less stress when they are in rooms with plants, compared to rooms without plants. Some research even suggests that work environments width indoor plants can boost employee productivity.
#4: Faster Recovery After Surgery
Indoor plants have also been linked to faster recovery times of patients following surgery. In some studies, patients report reduced stress, fatigue, blood pressure and pain levels compared to patients in rooms without plants.These characteristics may be linked to faster recovery times and perhaps better patient outcomes. Even if plants can’t be kept in a hospital room for hygienic reasons, a room with a view of vegetation outside has been linked to similarly improved patient recovery, compared to patients in windowless rooms.
#5: Some Indoor Plants Have Specific Uses Around Your Home
The benefits of indoor plants that we’ve discussed so far apply to any plant, even if they’re just ornamental. Nevertheless, the diversity of plants is incredible, and some houseplants are kept for quite specific uses. For example, Aloe vera is a tropical, succulent plant that is native to the Middle East. When it’s broken open, it oozes a gel-like substance that was traditionally used to treat burns. Although the research on its efficacy is mixed, many people still like to keep an aloe plant in their kitchen, with the option to use it as a treatment for mild cooking burns.
Other plants are kept indoors for their pleasant and soothing fragrances. Lavender and jasmine are two plants that are known for their lovely smells, which have literally been bottled and used as perfume for millennia. Since lavender and jasmine are both traditionally linked to relaxation, keeping them in your bedroom at home could help you relax and sleep better.
Of course, some indoor plants can be kept just for cooking and eating! In particular, small herb plants like basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley and rosemary can be kept your house year-round. As long as they’re placed near a window, watered regularly, and fertilized occasionally, they will grow well indoors. Fresh herbs are awesome to have for cooking, since they add brightness and depth to your meals— even the most humble sandwich or salad.
Growing herbs at home can be much cheaper than buying them fresh from the supermarket, too. At Back to the Roots, we have an herb garden that’s ready to up your kitchen herb game. The Garden-In-A-Can herb garden is all set and ready to grow in your home. It comes with four different types of organic, non-GMO herb seeds—basil, cilantro, dill and mint—and organic, nutrient-rich soil.
Bonus: Aesthetics and Natural Decorating
Last but certainly not least, indoor plants are lovely and natural decorations to have in your home. Plants add an undeniably soothing, verdant beauty to a living space. Not that you need to be convinced by social media, but it can give you tons of ideas for decorating with indoor plants. Countless Instagram and Pinterest photos provide indoor décor inspiration with lush, green foliage growing in kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and even bathrooms.
Plus, they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain. Most houseplants really only need to be watered once a week. If you’re afraid you’ll forget to water your indoor plants, you can always set an alarm on your phone. Or, you might consider getting desert plants, like cacti. They naturally grow in very water-scarce areas, and they need water even less frequently.
Houseplants add to your home décor and are pretty to have around. But they also offer a number of health benefits to you and your family, with the potential to heighten air quality and humidity, improve mood, reduce stress, and more. With some regular care, indoor plants can provide these benefits and beauty for months and even years!