Houseplants don’t just look nice – they can also give your mental health a boost

Houseplants don’t just look nice – they can also give your mental health a boost

For those of us without access to outside green space, houseplants are a stylish and affordable way of getting a nature fix. Alongside looking nice, indoor plants actually have several other perks – the biggest benefit of which could be improving your mental health. And the good news is that you don’t need to be a self-professed “plant parent” to experience these benefits either.

One in eight UK households do not have access to any kind of garden. Young people and those from minority ethnic backgrounds are among those least likely to have a garden.

Not having access to nature can have a number of effects on our health. It’s been linked to symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as other health conditions, such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, and poor immune function. For many of us, houseplants are an essential link to nature.

While there’s not yet a robust body of research on the mental health benefits of houseplants specifically, plenty of studies have shown how beneficial green space and gardening are for mental health. For instance, one study found that people who garden daily have better well-being and lower stress levels compared to those who don’t.

Gardening also reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety and increases positive emotions to the same extent as biking, walking and eating out. Many of these outcomes are likely to be true of houseplants too. For those of us without access to outside green space, houseplants are a stylish and affordable way of getting a nature fix. Alongside looking nice, indoor plants actually have several other perks – the biggest benefit of which could be improving your mental health. And the good news is that you don’t need to be a self-professed “plant parent” to experience these benefits either.

One in eight UK households do not have access to any kind of garden. Young people and those from minority ethnic backgrounds are among those least likely to have a garden.

Not having access to nature can have a number of effects on our health. It’s been linked to symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as other health conditions, such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, and poor immune function. For many of us, houseplants are an essential link to nature.

While there’s not yet a robust body of research on the mental health benefits of houseplants specifically, plenty of studies have shown how beneficial green space and gardening are for mental health. For instance, one study found that people who garden daily have better well-being and lower stress levels compared to those who don’t.

Gardening also reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety and increases positive emotions to the same extent as biking, walking and eating out. Many of these outcomes are likely to be true of houseplants too. In theory, plants can also help increase indoor air humidity. Most of our buildings are too dry. Keeping humidity in an optimal range can prevent the spread of viruses, fungal growth, as well as eye, skin and nose dryness. Although dependent on other conditions in the room like size, light, and airflow, some of the best plants for increasing humidity are English ivy (Hedera helix), Devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) and Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum).

Lifelong learning
You don’t need a green thumb to enjoy success with houseplants. Gardening is all about learning through trial and error, and even the most seasoned gardeners make mistakes. Indeed, not all plants will thrive everywhere – and some may struggle through infestations, won’t adapt to light or water conditions, and die. Try not to get hung up on this setback. It’s always worth trying again, perhaps with a different species and armed with more botanical knowledge.

Each plant has different requirements, so look for plants that are suited to the conditions in your home. You may even want to find plants that actually thrive on neglect. Some of the best options for beginners are the spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), the parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans), and anything in the cactus and succulent families, such as the zebra cactus (Haworthia) or the jade plant (Crassula ovata).

Growing herbs is also a cheap and useful starting point for beginners. There are also apps out there that can help make it easier for you to care for your plants, by giving you advice, reminders and a forum to ask questions.

Owning houseplants can have a range of benefits for our health – especially mental health. It can also be a great hobby that always teaches you something new, encourages self-expression – choosing and caring for plants -, and gives you a tangible sense of fulfillment.