Nature in all its forms is beneficial to our health, and having houseplants in your living spaces is one way to bring that closer to home.
There are many different ways that indoor plants are good for your health, and some can have a bigger impact than others.
More on the Health Benefits of Indoor Plants
What kind of health issues are we talking about here? One of the big ways a plant is good for you is by cleaning up the air in your home.
Plants take in all sorts of contaminants and toxins in the air, and neutralize them. And yes, your house is probably loaded with chemical traces that end up in the air from cleaning products, adhesives, upholstery, carpeting, manufactured wood products and various household solvents.
Formaldehyde, benzene, toluene and even carbon monoxide are the biggest culprits in any typical house.
You may not realize they are in your air either, since they are odorless in small amounts. But your body notices, and you can suffer from eye or nose irritation, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and a worsening of asthma symptoms.
So, any means to get rid of these toxins is a good idea. Thriving houseplants also add fresh oxygen to your indoor air, which can be important these days when windows are often kept closed to either conserve heat or to keep air-conditioned air inside.
And that’s not all. Many houseplants are helpful because their scents are really good at repelling insects like spiders or mosquitoes. Keep a few choice plants near the doors of your home, and those annoying pests won’t be as likely to get inside your house.
Lastly, just the presence of plants is a big boost for your mood, attitude and focus. Scientific studies have found many instances where natural surroundings will reduce stress and generally improve your overall mental health.
Basically, just having plants around is good for your health, no matter what specific houseplants you are growing.
Now that you know more about how plants can be good for your health, which houseplants are the best choices?
Indoor Plants That Are Good for Your Health
1 – Pothos (Epipremnum sp.)
Every house should have at least one pothos. Not only is it super easy to take care of, it’s known to be a fantastic air cleaner. In particular, its takes in formaldehyde more than most other plants.
Caring for a pothos vine is simple. They like a lot of sun but will do fine in lower light areas. Their yellow and green leaves will adjust to the lower light levels by turning more green to adapt.
The plant grows just fine even if you lose the lovely color patterns on the variegated leaves. Water when the soil starts to get dry and that’s all there is to it. A pothos is a quick-growing vine so you should plan on having some space for the tendrils to go once it grows past the container.
Keep your pothos up and out of the way if you have small kids or pets. It can be toxic if ingested, but it’s otherwise safe to handle.
2 – Aloe Vera (Aloe vera)
Aloe is a little unique from the other plants on this list as it has a special place as a first-aid supply. Inside each of the fat spears is a gel that is wonderful as a topical treatment for minor burns or scraps.
All you need to do is snip off the tip of a leaf and squeeze out the clear gel inside to apply. These are also great plants for their air-cleaning properties as well, filtering benzene and other chemicals.
As a succulent (related to cactus), aloe vera prefer dry conditions so they are a great plant if you tend to forget watering chores. Give them sun through the day and a drink when the soil has gotten dry to the touch.
3 – Citronella (Cymbopogon sp.)
Now we’re looking at a very popular plant for insect repelling, specifically mosquitoes. The lemony scent is known to drive mosquitoes away, so much so that it’s a common ingredient in many natural repellent products.
Don’t worry, the smell is quite pleasant for people and won’t be offensive. Since mosquitoes often carry disease, this is definitely a health benefit to keep them out of the house.
You can even take this protection with you when you go outside by crushing and rubbing a leaf or two on your skin.
Citronella is a tropical plant, so you need to have a warm spot for it and plenty of light. When the days get shorter in the winter, you might need to have a grow light nearby to keep it thriving until spring. Fertilizer is a good idea too.
When shopping for citronella, look at the species name and the shape of the plant. True citronella looks like grass. Some types of geranium are misnamed as citronella or mosquito plants. They aren’t as potent as the real thing.
4 – Lavender (Lavandula sp.)
Lavender is great for your health for more than one reason. First of all, it’s another aromatic choice that drives away insects to help keep your home bug-free.
The English variety has the strongest scent for this. Aside from bugs, the smell of lavender is very potent as an aromatherapy treatment. Just being around the scent can relieve headaches, improve sleep, create calm and just generally boost your moods.
It may not be the easiest houseplant as it is better suited for outdoor growing though. Loads of sun along with a lot of light air flow, like you might get near a frequently open window.
The leaves are very prone to mildew so the movement of air is necessary to keep it healthy.
If you do have a thriving plant on your hands, it will soon overgrow its container. You can split it into smaller plants and spread its benefits around the house or share with friends.
5 – Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Back to air quality improvement with the spider plant. It’s a great option for the novice gardener, and will keep on growing even with negligent care.
Spider plants will absorb carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and benzene from your air to give you a healthier environment to live in.
Keep spider plants in sunny windows if you can, but one will do fine in a low light spot too. The soil should drain quickly, and you only need to water when it starts to get dry to the touch.
It has long, slim leaves and will put out tendril stalks with little plant buds on them too. Hanging baskets are the usual way of keeping a spider plant as the leaves and tendrils can get pretty long. The baby plants can be gently broken off and planted into their own pots for more plants.
So try bringing a few houseplants into your life, to add a little beauty to your home as well as giving you a healthier environment to live in.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.