The Health and Environmental Benefits of Indoor Plants - Fitleaf

The Health and Environmental Benefits of Indoor Plants

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House Plants

There are so many reasons to have plants in your home, business, personal workspace, or office. A single plant can turn a drab space into a warmer, cozier, and more inviting one. Amazingly, plants are powerful creatures, but not just because they enhance our indoor environment by improving air quality, increasing humidity, removing carbon dioxide and other toxic chemicals, and much more. They also have a positive impact on our physical and psychological health. And there is an abundance of scientific research to prove these claims. We will take a look at a few of the health and environmental benefits that indoor plants offer. Then we will look at specific plants that produce these benefits.

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Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Plants

Plants Reduce Physiological and Psychological Stress

Researchers at a university in Korea conducted a controlled study of 24 test subjects, all of whom were men in their mid-twenties. They worked in the fast-paced, high-pressure world of information technology. The researchers wanted to assess the physiological and psychological benefits of indoor plant interaction.

The test subjects were divided into two groups of twelve people each. The researchers wanted to compare the physiological differences in the way their test subjects responded to two tasks: transplanting a plant and completing a computer-related task. The first group was assigned the plant transplantation project first. The second group completed the computer assignment first.

Based on their assessments of all of the test subjects after they completed their respective tasks, the findings were consistent in showing that all of the men were significantly less stressed after their interaction with the plant. Scientists and medical experts advise people of the stress that intense interaction with technology causes. This study, however, suggests that any type of involvement with plants (including being surrounded by them) may be helpful at reducing some of the technology-related stress that affects a substantial portion of the population.

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Plants Help Improve Memory and Mood and Productivity

According to a 2014 study that was conducted at the University of Exeter, researchers looked at the mood, overall job satisfaction and productivity of participants who worked in offices in the UK and the Netherlands. They wanted to assess the workers’ perceptions of their job satisfaction, concentration, and their perception of the air quality in their offices. They compared the responses and found that respondents felt more satisfied with their jobs, felt that the air quality was better and that they were better able to concentrate when surrounded by plants. The researchers observed that the respondents were 15 percent more productive when they worked in an environment where plants were present.

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Plants Speed the Healing Process

According to a study from researchers at Kansas State University, hospital patients who had ornamental plants in their rooms following surgery recovered faster than patients who didn’t have plants in their rooms. The same patients needed less pain medication and had lower blood pressures. They were also discharged from the hospital sooner than patients who had no plants in their rooms. It’s reasonable to infer that the houseplants will speed the recovery of individuals who are sick at home.

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Indoor Plants Enhance Mental Health

People are happier and less depressed in the presence of nature. Therefore, we can extend that to indoor plants. Furthermore, numerous research studies show that being around plants improves the focus of people who have ADHD.

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Environmental Benefits of Indoor Plants

Plants Remove Toxins from the Air and Release Fresh Oxygen

Plants use carbon dioxide, water, and sunshine to make glucose – the food that gives them the energy they need to grow. As part of the food-making process, they release oxygen into the air, so they are essentially recycling the indoor air. But even more importantly, plants can remove toxins from the air, and they do so when they expel moisture through the plant leaves. The plant uses the pumping action that the release of water vapor creates to suck moisture back into the roots of plants. As the plant does this, it pulls air towards the roof; it sucks up the contaminated air where plant roots then absorb it.

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Some of the toxins that plants can remove from the air include:

  • Airborne biological pollutants
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Disinfectants (containing phenol)
  • Formaldehyde
  • VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds, including Benzene and TCE – Trichloroethylene)
  • Pesticides
  • Radon

Plants Increase Humidity in the Air

Plants take water in through their leaves, stems, and roots. But some of the water that they take in gets expelled again through the leaves. That process is somewhat like perspiration. When that excess water evaporates, and that increases the moisture in the air. If the air is dry, it’s easier for plants to release the excess water. That elevates the humidity level in the air, and it makes your home more comfortable – especially in the winter. The process is known as transpiration.

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Plants That Enhance Environment and Improve Indoor Air Quality

Aloe Vera

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Aloe Vera is best known for its health benefits – especially its ability to soothe burns and aid in the healing of skin irritations and sores. In addition to its skin-soothing benefits, Aloe is also useful as an anti-inflammatory treatment. Aside from the medical benefits that Aloe offers, it removes formaldehyde from the air. It thrives in bright, but indirect light, and does best with very little water.

Bamboo Palm – Lucky Bamboo (Chamaedorea seifritzii)

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Lucky bamboo can filter formaldehyde from the air. It is super easy to grow (and it grows in water.) It thrives in places where there is limited light.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata)

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Boston Fern is beneficial because of its ability to remove formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene from the air. It does well in moderate light or indirect sunlight. It needs a lot of humidity.

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)

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Chinese Evergreen is available in several different varieties, each of which features distinctive leaf colors that enhance the atmosphere. Chinese Evergreen is beneficial because it removes benzene and formaldehyde from the air. It does well in spaces where there is limited indirect light.

Dragon Tree (Dracina marginata)

Image by Albert Dezetter from Pixabay

Dragon Tree is a natural air purifier because of its ability to expel benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air.

Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)

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Gerbera Daisy produces beautiful flowers that make people happy. That’s why it is sometimes referred to as the happy plant. It takes benzene and trichloroethylene out of the air, purifying it in the process. Gerbera Daisies have a unique quality that distinguishes it from most other flowering and green plants. It releases oxygen into the air at night rather than during the day.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)

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Peace lily plants are recognized for the white “flower” that sits on top of a long thin stem. Even though it looks like an elegant white flower, it is a leaf bract, not a flower. Peace lilies are ideally suited to places with low to moderate light. The plant removes ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, toluene, and xylene from the air.


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Philodendron is often confused with pothos, but their differences are significant. Dark green heart-shaped leaves characterize philodendron. It grows well in low light situations. It removes formaldehyde from the air.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

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Pothos is easy to recognize because of its bright green leaves that are variegated with cream or yellow-colored accents. It also thrives in low to moderate light. Pothos removes benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene from the air.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria rifisciata)

Photo by Fitleaf

Snake Plant is one of the easiest plants there is to grow. It tolerates low to moderate light, and it thrives with neglect. Its long thick variegated leaves give it its name. It is helpful for its ability to remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, toluene, and xylene from the air. Like Gerbera Daisy, it is one of the few plants that convert carbon dioxide into oxygen at night.

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

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Spider plants are fast-growing plants that produce babies from long stems that emerge from the plant’s core. The baby plants are easy to propagate and can be rooted in water. Spider plants prefer moderate light or indirect sun, and cooler air temperatures. They ’re helpful for removing formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene from the air.

We shared some of the well-documented scientific evidence that proves that plants offer a multitude of environmental, physical, and mental health benefits. The plants mentioned above are among the easiest houseplants there are to grow. If you’re new to plants, we encourage you to start with lucky bamboo, Philodendron, Pothos, or Snake Plant. You’ll discover that the presence of plants in your home will brighten your spirits and turn your home into a well-loved and well-lived in house.  

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