Science

5 houseplants with actual health benefits

Exercising in your apartment and eating a balanced meal are easy ways to stay fit, but what else can you do while stuck indoors to improve your health? Consider adopting a plant. Caring for plants is linked to stress reduction, but some plants can actually take care of you too. These houseplants offer health benefits in return for a little sunlight, water, and occasional pruning.

Money Tree

Money tree growing in a white pot
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A money tree can’t boost your bank account, but this pet-friendly houseplant can improve air quality in small spaces. These beginner-friendly small trees were ranked by NASA researchers as a top air-filtering plant that can remove toxins such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Popularized in Taiwan, the money tree is actually native to Central and South America. Adding one to your home supposedly even brings you luck.

Mint

Mint plant growing on windowsill
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Mint can help cure an upset stomach or relieve cold symptoms, so why not add a small pot of the mentholated herb to your kitchen? This fast-growing plant doesn't require much maintenance. Planting it in a garden or large container often allows it to grow and reproduce quickly. The mint family consists of over 600 species and some even have subtle fruity flavors. Apple, pineapple, and chocolate are common mint varieties that offer a different take on the traditional peppermint or spearmint flavors. At the end of a tough day, mint is a great pick-me-up since the plant's leaves are typically used to garnish dozens of mixed drinks.

Orchids

Orchid plant in a green pot on a desk with a laptop in the background
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While all plants convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen, some species such as orchids and succulents release the byproduct at night instead of throughout the day. Adding an orchid to your nightstand is a gardener-recommended way to boost air quality and get better sleep. Orchids have a bad reputation for being difficult, advanced-level plants to care for, but they’re known in the wild for being adaptable to harsh environments. With over 25,000 varieties to choose from, it’s possible to find an orchid that fits your level of gardening experience.

Dieffenbachia

Person spraying water on a dieffenbachian plant
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People (like plants) need water to thrive. If the air in your home has your skin feeling itchy and dry due to low humidity, a dieffenbachia plant can help. Often referred to as "dumb cane," these tropical plants release excess moisture through their leaves. Since they're great at regulating water use, dieffenbachias are a good option for gardeners who tend to overwater their plants. Dieffenbachias don’t produce flowers; instead, the plants feature large, patterned leaves that provide visual interest year-round (but are toxic to kids and pets). For a pet-friendly alternative, consider a Boston fern. This easy-growing fern thrives on extra waterings and rewards you with extra indoor humidity.

Monstera Deliciosa (Swiss Cheese Plant)

Monstera Deliciosa plant in a white pot on a shelf
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Time spent outdoors gives us a moment to unplug and unwind. Japan’s practice of shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing” is linked to better mental health, low blood pressure, and other health benefits. Research shows that bringing plants inside provides some of the same benefits. You can create your own indoor forest bathing experience by adding tall houseplants such as monstera deliciosa. This fast-growing tropical plant features large leaves that easily make a statement while diffusing light. The distinctive notched leaves have made monstera plants a popular choice among apartment-dwellers, Instagram influencers, and interior designers.

Even if you don’t add one of these leafy giants to your indoor jungle, know that any plant you bring home can boost your mood. Adding an inexpensive bit of green to your space might just enrich your life.