Your Houseplants Can Positively Impact Your Mental Health, According to Researchers

published Aug 9, 2022
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Credit: Kristan Lieb

Fickle as they can be, houseplants have a lot to offer: they bring a touch of nature into our homes, brighten up our spaces, and can even make for chic home decor. But even as artificial plants grow in popularity, science suggests that sticking to the real thing has serious benefits — especially when it comes to your mental health. 

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health’s recent review of 42 studies found that even being in the presence of indoor plants can demonstrably improve your mental and physical well-being.

These studies included experiments comparing participants performing activities in rooms with or without plants. Participants in rooms with plants outperformed their plant-less peers across the board, exhibiting lower levels of physiological stress, faring better on cognitive tasks involving focus, sorting, or memory recall, and sustaining greater pain tolerance when holding their hands in ice cold water.

The aesthetic appearance of plants plays an important role, too, with further research suggesting that people respond most positively to lush, green plants with rounded and dense foliage. Luckily, plenty of familiar houseplants fit the bill: Parlor palms, asparagus ferns, baby’s tears, and waffle plants all add fresh, easy-to-maintain pops of greenery to your indoor jungle.

Research also suggests that gardening — yes, the indoor variety, too — can carry serious emotional benefits, such as mental resilience, social connection, and help in healing from past traumas. The act of tending to plants has even been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression

In other words, there’s never been a better time to take the plunge into plant parenthood. You’re more than encouraged to head your local nursery and pick out a brand-new plant (or three) in the name of science. It’s self-care!

Looking for tips to earn your green thumb? Check out Apartment Therapy’s recommendations below.