10 Best Indoor Plants to Improve Your Health and Home

10 Best Indoor Plants for Your Health Potted Plants to Purify the Air

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If some of the best indoor houseplants have taken over your interiors, seemingly sprawling across bookshelves, side tables, and kitchen counters, you’re not alone. Sales of leafy green flora have skyrocketed over the past two years as many spend more time indoors; they’ve been a hit on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, where there are over 9 million posts tagged #HousePlants. While greenery brightens up your space and certainly looks cute, experts believe your houseplants can also be good for your health.

Naturopathic physicians have long incorporated plant medicine into their practices, and generally spending time around plants offers a “positive impact on the whole person,” says Amy Rothenberg, NDNaturopathic Doctor and President of the Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors.

“When we talk about treating the whole person, we mean taking care of the body, the emotions and the mind; plants can touch each of these critical areas,” says Rothenberg. Plants improve air quality, beautify your home, and boost emotional and spiritual well-being by giving you the ability to take care of something. Plants in your bedroom could improve the quality of your sleep, while greenery in your kitchen helps brighten up your space if there are no windows.

While any herb is good for the soul and can benefit your mental health and emotional well-being, here are some of the top picks from the experts.

Which plants are the best for your health?

The healthiest houseplant is the one that matches your personal style as well as your daily schedule and routine, says Alex Cromer, PLC, a licensed professional mental health counselor at Thriveworks in Richmond, Virginia. And, don’t you worry too if you don’t have a green thumb! Many of the best plants for your health are easy to care for, so you can take advantage of their presence and reap the rewards.

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Spider Plant

spider plants or Chlorophytum comosum, are extremely easy to grow, don’t require constant attention, and thrive with little investment on your part. The plants have narrow leaves and get their name from the “little seedlings produced on long, trailing stems that look vaguely like spiders,” according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension.

Spider plants are known to help purify the surrounding air. NASA research examined the leaves, soil, roots and microorganisms of several indoor plants and found that plants can act as a natural air filter to reduce pollutants. The study says spider plants removed 95% of toxic formaldehyde from the air in a sealed plexiglass container over a 24-hour period.

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rubber plants

Rubber plants – also called rubber trees or elastic ficus – make great indoor houseplants. They are generally easy to care for and only need to be watered once a week, according to materials shared by The Sill. Research shows that rubber plants have air-purifying properties. Just be sure to keep them firmly away from pets and small children, as they are known to be very toxic when ingested.

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4

elephant ear plants

If you want to spend a little more time with your houseplants, Cromer recommends elephant ear plants. These are organized into a group of perennial tropical plants instantly recognizable by their large, heart-shaped leaves. They need bright light and regular watering to keep the soil moist, and they can get large and need extra space. Some species have been cultivated for their edible starchy tubers, which are a staple food in some tropical regions. Medicinally, the leaves have been noted for their use in the treatment of insect bites.

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Ferns

A 2022 study published in Applied Science showed that Boston ferns had the best air purification results from naturally occurring VOCs in the air. The plants grow easily and look great indoors in hanging baskets or on plant supports, allowing their fronds to drape. They need moderately bright light and consistently moist soil, so they may require a little longer.

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Pothos

When you imagine a houseplant, the pothos or Epipremnum pinnatum, that’s probably what comes to mind. Also known as devil’s ivy or golden pothos, the plants feature vibrant heart-shaped leaves that can be green or mottled green and yellow. They are easy to grow, requiring only indirect sunlight and infrequent watering. Research shows that plants can reduce indoor ozone levels, which can make it easier to breathe and reduce the risk of respiratory disease, as well as remove VOCs from the air.

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Herbs

Little potted herbs not only look cute in your kitchen, but they can also inspire you to cook more often and eat healthier. Growing your own basil, parsley or mint is also cheaper than buying herbs from the grocery store. Several herbs, such as chamomile and lavender, have been shown to reduce anxiety, according to Mayo Clinic officials. Herbs also contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which are a boon to your diet.

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How do houseplants contribute to good health?

The beauty of plants and caring for them can be truly healing. “Looking at something aesthetically pleasing can stimulate neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin,” says Cates. Keeping the plants primes your brain to look forward to interacting with the plant and getting a hit of “neurochemical feel-good,” Cromer adds.

Herbs provide immediate benefits by improving mood and managing stress, Cates says. They also provide long-term benefits, such as improving air quality which can reduce instances of headaches – or adding moisture to the air which helps with dry skin , says Rothenberg. Handling soil, which contains microbes, can promote microbiome diversity in your home, which could benefit gut and skin health.

But, having houseplants alone isn’t a recommended treatment for any medical condition, adds Rothenberg. “Encouraging my patients to consider having houseplants is part of a larger, individualized health care plan.”

What are the best houseplants for purifying the air?

Research shows that plants can help purify the air, especially in areas where air quality may be in doubt. Breathing cleaner air also helps you think clearer, calms stress and reduces the risk of asthma, says Cates Good Housekeeping.

Indoor plants absorb carbon dioxide, filter pollutants and release oxygen. “It’s an important idea considering how much time people spend indoors,” Rothenberg adds. “By adding more oxygen, theoretically, you could have better concentration, fewer headaches, and a better mood.”

snake plants, spider plants, rubber factories, peace lily, fernsand english ivy are some of the best houseplants for increasing oxygen levels and purifying the air.

What are the mental health benefits of caring for a houseplant?

Being surrounded by greenery offers many mental health benefits. Horticultural therapy has long been used to treat mental health and other conditions. It helps improve memory, cognition and socialization. Humans also have an innate instinct to connect with nature, known as biophilia.

Caring for plants can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood and concentration, and boost confidence. “Plants provide a tangible, positive outcome for the caretaker that can help them feel more in control of their life, which can reduce anxiety and promote overall well-being,” Cromer says. “It gives the caretaker a sense of pride and accomplishment – being attentive to the growth and appearance of the plant and finding ways to solve problems.”

Watching them grow can be soothing, promote peaceful feelings, and provide a meditative experience, adds Rothenberg.

“Plants benefit health holistically because they are a non-stimulating partner who are accepting and tolerant, and are good listeners,” Cromer says. “Plants thrive on simple care and attention and are very visibly grateful for your efforts.”

If you are struggling with a mental health issue, you may need to talk to a professional. You can find help and learn more about anxiety by visiting the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

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