Indoor plants don’t just look good, they can also improve your mental health

For those of us without access to green spaces outdoors, houseplants are a stylish and affordable way to get a dose of nature. Besides looking good, houseplants actually have other advantages, the biggest benefit of which might be improving your mental health. And the good news is that he doesn’t need to be a self-proclaimed “plant parent” to experience these benefits, either.

one in eight UK households do not have access to any kind of garden. Young people and those of minority ethnic background are among the least likely to own a garden.

Not having access to nature can have a series of effects on our health. It has been linked to symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as other health conditions, including asthma, cardiovascular disease, and poor immune function. For many of us, houseplants are an essential link to nature.

While there is not yet a strong body of research on the mental health benefits of houseplants specifically, many studies have shown how beneficial green spaces and gardening are for mental health. For example, one study found that people who garden every day have better well-being and lower stress levels compared to those that don’t.

gardening too reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety Y increases positive emotions to the same extent as bicycling, walking and eating out. Many of these results likely apply to houseplants as well.


Quarter life, a series of The Conversation

This article is part of Quarter Life, a series on issues that affect those of us in our twenties and thirties. From the challenges of starting a career and taking care of our mental health, to the excitement of starting a family, adopting a pet, or simply making friends as an adult. The articles in this series explore the questions and provide answers as we navigate this turbulent period of life.

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A recent review of 42 studies shows that even just be in the presence of indoor plants can improve mental and physical health. These experiments compared participants performing various activities in rooms with or without plants.

The presence of plants showed better performance on cognitive tasks involving focusing, sorting, or memory recall, higher pain tolerance when holding hands in ice water, and lower levels of physiological stress. Interestingly, the aesthetic appearance of plants is also important, with separate research showing that people tend to react more positively to lush, green plants with denser, rounded foliage.

But most of these studies focus on the mere presence of plants. From research on the benefits of gardening, we can surmise that caring for houseplants will bring many more emotional benefits, such as pride, social connection, satisfaction, fascination, mental resilience in times of stressand can even help you heal from past trauma.

Good for you

There are many other reasons why having houseplants is beneficial to you.

plants can remove contaminants such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide (from nearby traffic), fine particles (from dust), and volatile organic compounds (from air fresheners, cooking, and cleaning). For people who spend most of the day indoors, indoor air quality is very important.

High concentrations of carbon dioxide can reduce cognitive performance (such as concentration and memory recall), while prolonged exposure to other indoor pollutants can cause long-term health problems – ranging from minor eye or throat irritations to respiratory problems and cancer.

But removing a significant amount of indoor pollutants would require many plants in a very bright room – somewhat unrealistic for most people. If you want to give it a try, plant plants with a high leaf area, such as an Indian rubber tree (elastic ficus) or devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) are your best bet.

A young woman wearing gardening gloves uses a spray bottle to water her houseplant.
Houseplants can also be good for other aspects of your health.
antoniodiaz/Shutterstock

In theory, plants can also help increase indoor air humidity. Most of our buildings are too dry. keep moisture in an optimal range it can prevent the spread of viruses, fungal growth, as well as dry eyes, skin, and nose. Although it depends on other conditions in the room such as size, light, and airflow, some of the best plants for increasing humidity are English ivy (ivy helix), devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) and Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum).

lifelong learning

You don’t need a green thumb to enjoy success with houseplants. Gardening is about learning through trial and error, and even the most experienced gardeners make mistakes. In fact, not all plants will thrive everywhere, and some may fight off infestations, won’t adapt to light or water conditions, and die. Try not to obsess over this mishap. It’s always worth trying again, maybe with a different species and armed with more botanical knowledge.

Each plant has different requirements, so look for plants that suit the conditions in your home. You may even want to find plants that actually thrive on neglect. Some of the best options for beginners are the spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), the parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans), and anything in the cacti and succulent families, such as the zebra cactus (Haworthia) or the jade plant (Crassula ovata).

Growing herbs is also a cheap and useful starting point for beginners. there’s also apps out there that can help make caring for your plants easier by providing tips, reminders, and a forum to ask questions.

Owning houseplants can have a variety of benefits for our health, especially for mental health. It can also be a great hobby that always teaches you something new, encourages self-expression (choosing and caring for plants), and gives you a tangible sense of satisfaction.

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