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Health & Wellness

Houseplants That May Boost Well-Being

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Research shows that houseplants may provide a surprisingly wide range of well-being benefits, so befriend a fern, a ficus or a philodendron!

These living, leafy greens may reduce stress1, boost creativity and productivity2 and could even help to increase attention span3.

Houseplants can also make nifty housekeepers, scrubbing the air of impurities. A 1989 NASA study4 showed that houseplants can remove up to 87 percent of indoor pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde within 24 hours. NASA estimates that to improve air quality in a 1,800-square-foot home you’d want 15 to 18 houseplants growing in pots that are 6 to 8 inches in diameter.

We asked Susan Brandt, co-founder of the gardening website Blooming Secrets, to share some of her favorite, low-maintenance indoor plants.

Aloe: Placed in a sunny room, this succulent requires little care. With some watering every week or two, an aloe plant can grow to three feet, providing a lot of impact. Or, you can choose a small species like aloe vera, which will thrive in a bright corner.

Spider Plants: With its sword-like foliage, a spider plant is perfect for hanging. Its leaves will cascade over the container, to dramatic effect. Spider plants, which come in many varieties and like sunny conditions, can also be grown without soil. Just place in a pretty container, add decorative stones or pebbles if you like, and it will flourish.

Peace Lily:Hardy, resilient and shade loving, peace lilies are a perfect beginner plant. They’ll produce beautiful white blooms with minimal care. When their leaves begin to droop that’s their way of letting you know they’re thirsty and need watering.

Ficus Tree: This indoor tree has shiny leaves that add radiance to indoor spaces. Ficus trees need full sun or at least bright filtered light and moderate room temperatures (between 65 to 75 degrees). Ficus prefer several days of dry soil in between thorough watering.

Philodendron: This is another plant that can cascade out of your containers on a bookshelf and also works beautifully as a hanging plant. Among the easiest houseplants to grow, philodendrons do well in all types of light. Let the soil on the surface dry between watering.

Areca Palm: This tree, which will grow to six or seven feet indoors, can be a dramatic focal point of a room. It’s also one of the most efficient air-purifying plants. And if you want to add the tropics to your home, here is the plant to do it. Areca palms do well with indirect sunlight and will flourish as long as they’re not overwatered.


1. Stress-reducing effects of indoor plants in the built healthcare environment: the mediating role of perceived attractiveness. Dijkstra, K., Pieterse, M.E. and Pruyn, A. 2008. Preventive Medicine 2008, Sept. 47(3):279-283.

2. Office plants boost well-being at work. University of Exeter news release, July 2013.

3. Benefits of indoor plants on attention capacity in an office setting. Ruth K. Raanaas, Katinka Horgen Evensen, Debra Rich, Gunn Sjøstrøm& Grete Patil. Journal of Enviromental Psychology, March 2011, pp. 99-105

4. Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement. Wolverton, BC; Johnson, Anne and Bounds, Keith. NASA Technical Report, September, 1989.

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