Houseplants do more than just beautify your indoor space. Research shows that keeping plants inside your home can bring a host of physical and mental health benefits. Once you learn more about the therapeutic nature of plants, you'll be inspired to get your green thumb on.

Plants Fight Pollution Indoors
Indoor air quality is an increasing health concern, particularly in the United States and other developed countries where people may spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors, according to the American Society of Horticultural Science. Indoor air can be as much as 12 times more polluted than outside air in some areas, due to compounds in paints, furnishings, clothing, and building materials.

Don't be frightened--get some plants! Research shows that many common houseplants and blooming potted plants can improve your health by helping to fight these pollutants in your home. The ability of plants to remove chemicals from the air is called phytoremediation. A study conducted by Stanley J. Kays at the University of Georgia tested 28 species of common houseplants. The results showed that some ornamental plants can remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from indoor air. The purple waffle plant, the English ivy, the variegated wax plant, and the asparagus fern were the top VOCs fighters, according to a study published in HortScience.

While it's common knowledge that plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen as part of photosynthesis, research by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) also confirmed that plants eliminate harmful gases from the air. NASA findings showed that houseplants were able to remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in a 24-hour period. Researchers believe that all houseplants may offer these benefits to a certain degree, though they haven't all been tested. According to this study, the best plants are: dragon tree, ivy, ficus, philodendrons, spider plants, peace lilies, ferns, chrysanthemums, palms, and the rubber plant. You need a plant for every 10 square yards of floor in your house to ensure a considerable degree of air detox.

Plants Help Fight Colds
A study by the University of Agriculture in Norway found that indoor plants can also help fight colds. The research showed that indoor plants decreased coughs, sore throats, fatigue, and other cold-related symptoms by more than 30 percent. Researchers attributed these benefits to the fact that plants help increase humidity levels and decrease dust in your home.

Plants Make You Happy
The American Horticultural Therapy Association says that the benefits of plants can be seen across many studies in the cognitive, psychological, social, and physical realms. Some of the psychological benefits include:

  • Increased self-esteem
  • Improved mood and sense of well-being
  • Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Increased feelings of calm, relaxation, and optimism
  • Increased sense of stability and control

One area that has been explored is the effect of indoor plants on stress levels. Several independent studies have shown that interior plants can help reduce stress and improve well-being. A study by researchers at Washington State University found that people in a plant-filled room saw a four-point drop in their systolic blood pressure after taking a stressful test, compared with a two-point drop in a group with no plant exposure.

Plants Enhance Cognitive Function
Keeping plants indoors can make you think better. The mental benefits observed during this research include:

  • Improved concentration
  • Improved memory
  • Better goal achievement
  • Heightened attention

Indoor plants have also been linked to a boost in creativity. In a study from Texas A&M University, workers who were in a room with two potted plants and a bouquet of flowers generated 13 percent more ideas than workers in a room with sculptures. Bring more greenery--and less stress--into your home life!