Houseplants are currently one of the most trendy home decor additions and it’s no wonder. Among their many benefits, they purify the air, increase humidity and lower dust levels. While you breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, your houseplants are doing the same thing only in reverse. This helps provide cleaner, fresher air with very little effort.
Humid air is also healthier for you (and your plants) than dry air. Plants increase the level of humidity in your home through a process known as transpiration. In transpiration, plants absorb water through their roots and then release it into the air through tiny pores in their leaves known as “stomata.” The larger the plant’s leaves, the more stomata and the more moisture released into the air, thus, higher levels of humidity.
The process of transpiration is a powerful force in removing pollutants from your home. In fact, some plants with high transpiration rates can remove up to 87 percent of environmental pollutants within 24 hours. That’s some serious plant power.
While indoor plants release oxygen and moisture into your home, they also remove toxins through a process called “phytoremediation.” In our modern world toxins are everywhere, from our cosmetic products, to our household cleaners to our foods. These toxins (like the common household culprits formaldehyde and benzene) can contribute to a variety of respiratory conditions including asthma.
Houseplants also offer a variety of psychological benefits as well as physical ones. Because plants increase oxygen levels, they can boost your creativity and help you focus. Extra oxygen is beneficial for reducing headaches, increasing alertness and can even potentially help you get over a hangover faster!
In one study, the microbe Mycobacterium Vaccae (adorably nicknamed “outdoorfins”) commonly found in soil was shown to actually prevent a PTSD-like syndrome in mice. It may even boost immunity and when studied in relation to cancer patients, it was discovered that M Vaccae actually lessened the emotional stress related to late stage cancer. “Outdoorfins” are a powerful, natural anti-depressant. No wonder we find the smell of the earth after the rain so comforting! Why not harness the power of that magical bacteria in your home?
So how many plants does it take to get the job done? Former NASA research scientist Bill Wolverton recommends two medium to large plants for every 100 square feet of living space. While this may seem like a lot, some plants are certainly better than none. While some houseplants require a more advanced touch (I'm looking at you, Fiddle Leaf Fig) I’d recommend starting with these three hard to kill houseplants for even the blackest of black thumbs.
Pothos (commonly referred to as a the “money plant” or “silvervine”) while technically a tropical vine, grows surprisingly well in dry indoor climates. It has been shown to effectively lower levels of carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and xylene as well as increase indoor humidity. In some countries it is even believed to bring good luck!
Pothos is one my favorite tough to kill houseplants because it can go quite a while without water, and requires almost no attention. It thrives in medium to low light areas making it perfect for the home or office. For a more unique look, it can even grow in a vase of water so you can enjoy the beauty of the roots as well as the leaves.
My Pothos grows happily in our master bathroom in entirely indirect sunlight. It grows quickly and is perfect for achieving that “indoor jungle” look that is so popular right now. Pothos vine is also perfect for hanging planters in any room of the house.
The Snake Plant, “sansevieria” (doesn’t that sound like a yoga pose?) or “mother-in-law’s tongue” is an excellent addition to any home. My favorite feature? It requires almost no water, making them perfect for new plant owners. I water my Snake Plant only four times a year and it couldn’t be happier. Because they can tolerate almost any light situation they are perfect for anyone and are almost completely unkillable.
Because of its long leaves, the snake plant is a great oxygen producer making it perfect for bedrooms! In Thailand, a study proved that just 4-5 snake plants effectively lowered CO2 levels in offices. Another factor that makes them excellent for bedrooms is that Snake Plants do their best work at night by opening their stomata in the evening to minimize water loss.
This bright green friend thrives in indirect sunlight and almost any climate. Because it prefers dryer soil it’s a great low maintenance option. One of my favorite features of the Arrowhead Vine is the speed with which it grows. It’s great for filling in a blank wall space quickly and can be grown beautifully in both a traditional pot or a hanging planter.
Another great benefit of the Arrowhead Vine is that it’s incredibly easy to transplant the cuttings when you’re ready for more plants. I’ve done it by simply pull up one of the more established leaves from the soil and moving it to a glass of water in a window sill. After a week or two when the roots look “fuzzy” it’s ready to go into a fresh pot.
Abigail Hreha (author) from Oregon on May 21, 2019:
That’s awesome! I love the look of homes with lots of plants. I think it’s the most beautiful way to decorate!
Maribel Gibbs from Paoli, Pennsylvania on May 21, 2019:
Woow, amazing! Plants are life! I have so much of them in my apartment, and I just can't get enough!