When you think about your health, do you consider your surroundings? Do you see your environment as a reflection of your wellbeing? Looking after our homes can often help us to look after ourselves, so today let’s talk about one of the best ways to spruce up our living spaces: houseplants! Here are three benefits of keeping plants in our homes, and some tips and tricks to get you started!

1. Plants Enhance Focus and Attention

Did you know that houseplants have been proven to boost your attention span, improve memory, and even reduce visual fatigue? Researchers at Seoul’s Konkuk University performed a series of tests to see what effect plants have on people. During the study, they exposed subjects to various plant-related stimuli, and directly after, measured the subjects’ theta waves, a form of neural oscillation in the brain associated with cognition, learning, and many other aspects of brain function. To control for other factors, both real and fake plants were used in the experiment.

Quite interestingly, positive effects on cognition were only recorded when real plants were present. Simple images of plants or faux plants had no effect, which proved that the presence of plants stimulated all five senses, leading to a positive effect on brain function. So, if, like me, you spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen, having just one plant in your eye line can improve productivity. If you’re wondering, I have a mini lime tree sitting on my desk. There’s even a couple of little fruits on the go already. 

But what else can our little leafy buddies do? 

2. Plants Purify the Air

That’s right, you guessed it: plants clean the air. Plants take in carbon dioxide from their environment. Then, all they need is a little bit of water and some energy from the sun to provide us with oxygen! But their role doesn’t end there! Many plants also have a secondary ability to actively purify the air by removing pollutants. 

One of the most widely-shared texts on the subject was published by none other than NASA. They selected an array of chemicals known to have negative effects, such as causing respiratory illnesses, or ones containing carcinogenic chemicals, which are commonly present in households. Something surprising they found was that, while many plants cleaned the air through reactions in the leaves, some were also able to absorb pollutants from the soil surrounding their roots. A houseplant, with a pot and soil, may prove to be better at cleaning the air than a flower in a vase! 

You can find a beautiful variety of colors and leaf shapes to choose from in any garden center. Because of this, picking the most suited one for us can be a little confusing, as there are different factors to consider. For example, some plants are known to purify the air better than others, such as spider plants and peace lilies. Still, almost every houseplant tested in NASA’s study was shown to have cleaned the air, with the foliage, leaves, roots, and even the microorganisms living on the plants working together to remove airborne pollutants!

3. Plants Improve Mental Health

We know now that plants can boost brain function and cognition, purify the air we breathe, and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But one of their most powerful benefits lies in their ability to improve mental health. The study and practice of this particular branch (pun intended) of science is known as horticultural therapy. 

Horticultural therapy has been around for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. It can involve simply being in the presence of plants, or gardening, and it can also refer to the social aspects of being in a community gardening space. This type of therapy can be used for more serious conditions, as well as day-to-day general wellbeing. In fact, one of the signers of the American Declaration of Independence, Dr. Benjamin Rush, also known as the father of American Psychiatry, was one of the first to document its therapeutic uses

Having plants around can reduce stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity. Gardening can also help reduce fear, anger, sadness, as well as demonstrating physical effects, such the reduction of blood pressure and muscle tension. In randomized trials, simple exposure to greenery was found to reduce hospital stay time, and could even delay the onset of dementia symptoms. Most hospitals have green spaces for this very reason, and we can use this knowledge to improve our home environments. 

So which plants do we choose? 

5 Great Plants to Pick From 

When choosing a houseplant, the best thing to do is see for yourself which plants appeal to you. Some people like big flowers, some (like me) prefer miniature fruits, and others like vines or big leaves. The possibilities are nearly endless! Here are five common houseplants to consider:

Peace Lilies

These beautiful flowering plants have been featured in such films as Hot Fuzz and Leon the Professional, and they were also found by NASA to be the most effective environmental cleaners. They’re great for neutralizing harmful chemicals, and need very little maintenance. They don’t like to be in direct sunlight, but are well suited to average household temperatures. They like their soil to be consistently damp, so it’s recommended to water them about once per week. 

Spider Plants 

According to good old NASA, these lovely leafy green plants clean chemicals like formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzine from the air. They also breed through their roots, so if they’re happy a little root could pop out of the soil. Just grab another pot, plant the offshoot, and you’ve got yourself a baby! (I can feel the serotonin pumping already!) Spider plants are also very low maintenance. They hardly need any water, so the general recommendations suggest only watering them when the soil feels dry to the touch, and keeping them somewhere slightly out of direct sunlight.


Lavender smells amazing and looks beautiful. It’s commonly a garden plant, but it’s also very nice to have around the house! The smell of lavender, both from the plant itself, as well as in the form of essential oil, has also been proven to relieve stress and help with sleep. You might want to keep your lavendar plant on a windowsill, so they get direct sunlight every day, and only water them when the topsoil feels dry. 


Rosemary is one of my absolute favorite plants. It smells delightful, and you can even trim a little bit off now and then to season your cooking. What’s more, rosemary’s aroma has been found to improve mental arithmetic and memory. Keep it in the brightest place you can find — some people recommend a south-facing window — and only water it when the topsoil feels dry. They are also commonly an outdoors plant, so if you’re planning to bring one in from your garden, maybe spend a couple of weeks moving it to shadier parts of your garden so it has a chance to develop leaves that are more used to darker environments, before bringing it inside. 


Last, but certainly not least, is jasmine. Jasmine is a gorgeous plant that smells divine, and the fresh flowers can be used to make tea. It has a long history of medicinal benefits, and ingesting it either through smell or as a tea serves to transmit signals to the limbic system to help with insomnia, depression, and anxiety. The best type to buy for your house is jasminum polyanthum, as it smells the best, particularly at night. Buying an older plant that has had time to flourish outdoors is recommended, but failing that you can get a young one and keep it outside for a little while before bringing it in. It’s recommended to keep jasmine in a cool place, and give it a tall stand or a hanging basket, as it likes to climb. Lastly, make sure to keep the soil from drying out.

Now that we’ve got an idea of the kind of plant we might like, it’s time to brush up on our indoor gardening skills!

Indoor Gardening Tips

Here are 5 things to keep in mind: 

It’s undeniable, plants are great for our holistic health. Not only do they look lovely, they’re incredibly beneficial for wellness on a mental, social, and environmental scale! You really can’t go wrong having an indoor plant nearby. Have a think about which plants you’d like to bring into your home or workspace, and soon you may start to feel some of the wonderful effects that these leafy companions can bring.