House plants offer so many more benefits than just a bit of decoration.
Growing plants inside your home can bring all sorts of additional advantages both to you and the other people who you share your home with.
From lowering stress levels, boosting your mood and improving the indoor air quality, house plants bring a whole load of benefits you may never have thought possible. Even better, these benefits are backed up by scientific study and research.
What are the benefits of having indoor plants?
Thanks to roughly 500 million years of development, plants have evolved to do some truly amazing things.
Humans and our ancestors have been around for roughly 5 million years.
During this common time on the planet, we have formed and developed an incredibly close relationship with plants. Humans have relied on plants not just for the oxygen and food they supply, but for many matters that often go unnoticed which we now perceive as benefits.
We may live in very different ways to our ancestors, but you and I can still benefit from plants now, both outside and inside our homes.
A point to make is that plants is a very general term. There are hundreds of thousands of different types of plants. Although this means there’s a suitable plant for every room and corner of your home – from bright and airy living rooms, to damp bathrooms and dark corners – it can also be a little daunting to choose the right one.
It just takes a little research to find the right plant for you. To get you off to a good start, check out my blog on the top 7 easy to grow indoor plants.
Here are 10 benefits of growing plants indoors.
1. Plants reduce stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are prevalent in today’s fast-moving, non-stop society. This is why I favour a more simple, sustainable life!
Research in Japan has shown that a 40 minute walk in nature when compared to a 40 minute walk in the lab resulted in lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This is now known as ‘shinrin-yoku’ – or forest bathing – and people do it specifically to reduce stress.
Plants and trees can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in different ways – the quiet calming atmosphere they produce, beautiful scenery, good aromatics and fresh air.
Green plants seem to be the best at reducing stress and increasing feelings of wellbeing. Green is good!
In 2005, a study compared the effects of views and indoor plants on workers. Scientists concluded that when participants were watching nature and/or when indoor plants were present, they felt less nervous or anxious.
Participants suffered the highest degree of tension and anxiety when they didn’t have indoor plants around them or a window view.
There’s also the process of caring for the plants. This naturally takes the focus off you and engages a different area of your brain. Like hugging a pet, it can make you feel calmer and more relaxed.
2. Plants improve your mood
Look at a plant closely enough and you’ll start to notice the amazing shapes, lines and details they contain. It’s also so satisfying when you notice them growing over time, sprouting a new leaf or starting to come into a flowering period.
This love of nature, instinctive attraction and connectedness to the natural world is known as biophilia.
You don’t have to sit and meditate on a plant every morning though for them to improve your mood. Being around plants can sub-consciously make you feel better.
One study in Norway added 28 new plants to common areas of a residential rehab centre. Four weeks later patients reported greater feelings of happiness than compared to the group who didn’t have plant added.
3. Plants can lower blood pressure
A study in 2015 focussed on young male adults interacting and looking after indoor plants and compared them to a group doing computer tasks.
The result was significant differences in physiological and psychological stress.
The male adults completing the plant work benefitted from a reduction in diastolic blood pressure, as well as the promotion of comfortable, soothed and natural feelings.
There are also a suggestion that aromatic compounds, called phytoncides, given off by certain plants can lead to beneficial changes in the blood that are associated with better immunity and blood pressure.
4. Provide an immunity boost
A person’s immunity can improve in a few different ways. Getting a better sleep, being exposed to less chemicals and breathing in better air will all help. Luckily, having house plants around can help with all of these points.
Plants can also help with your immunity by the psychological benefits they bring.
By feeling less stressed and more content, your immune system will benefit. As shown in the points below, having house plants can not only prevent you getting ill more often, but can also can speed up recovery time.
5. Plants can speed up recovery from illness
The presence of plants can help patients recovery from illnesses and speed up recovery rates after surgery.
One study found that adding plants to the hospital rooms of patients who’ve just had surgery, increased recovery times compared to those who didn’t have indoor plants.
Amazingly, the patients with plants in their room also required less pain medication, experienced less fatigue, had less anxiety, more positive feelings and were released from hospital sooner than patients without plants in their room!
The findings suggest that plants can bring huge therapeutic values to the hospital environment. If they can have this affect in hospitals, plants can bring fantastic benefits to your home too.
6. Improve productivity and focus
You can benefit from improved focus when plants are around. This ties into the other impacts of reduced stress and greater feelings of well-being.
A study at the University of Exeter found that ‘green offices’ made staff happier and more productive. In one of the first studies on a real office environment, the team concluded that plants could improve productivity by as much as 15% thanks to increased workplace satisfaction, self-reported better concentration and better perceived air quality.
A small study in 2019 young teenagers compared the effects of real plants against plastic plants, a photo of a plant and no plants at all.
Using brain scans, the study showed that being around real plants improved attention and concentration, alongside more positive moods and feelings of comfort.
7. Plants can absorb indoor air pollutants
A lot of materials in your home will be releasing chemicals into the indoor air without you knowing. There known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
VOCs come from materials and items that have been manufactured using chemicals. They’re probably more common than you think.
Carpets, rugs, paint, sofas, polish and wood sealants will all emit, or off-gas, VOCs. Given time, these chemicals can accumulate and cause health issues. This is why things such as eco-friendly paint and eco-friendly wood treatments are a good idea.
Many house plants can absorb these volatile compounds and in effect help to clean up the air alongside good ventilation. It’s been shown that plants in soil are superior to hydroponic systems in absorbing VOCs.
The number of plants required in a given space to bring the benefits of improved air quality is still being studied. However, the general rule is this: the more plants the better!
8. Increase air humidity
As plants respire, they release not just oxygen but water vapour too. More water vapour in the air increases the humidity.
This is beneficial as it can help improve respiratory efficiency and skin health.
Radiators and other forms of heating cause drying effects which can negatively impact skin conditions. More house plants can help offset this by releasing moisture into the air.
9. Reduce fatigue
Plants have been shown to reduce mental fatigue.
This was first shown in a study on students in 1995 who reported feeling less fatigued after given a task to complete. Another study on student suggested that plants may influence recovery from mental fatigue also.
10. Plants can help you sleep better
Plants can positively impact your sleep in a number of ways.
Before you head to bed, just looking and interacting with plants may help your sleep preparation. One study found that green plants had the most positive effects on relaxation and sleep cycles.
There are some plants that do the majority of the respiring during the night time. Plants such as orchids, aloe vera, bromeliads, English ivy and peace lilies will release oxygen into your room while you sleep. Higher oxygen levels are likely to improve sleep quality and integrity.
Is there any benefit in growing plants inside the house?
Whichever way you look at it, there’s a clear, positive link between being around plants and human well-being.
The 10 benefits here so how important house plants can be to your health and the health of others in your home.
I love having plants around my home and I like to think that I’m profiting from the majority of the benefits in this blog!
If you’re looking to buy plants online, you might want to take a look around Lazy Flora* for ideas and check out their subscription service.