There is not much argument about the idea that plants benefit our lives in many ways. There are numerous health benefits to having plants close by. Our mental health, and physical health both benefit from plants in our environment. When mental health is improved, cortisol is reduced, hormones are better managed, and life in general is more pleasant. Just as we need to pay attention to our internal microbiome, we also need to take care of our external environment. If you take small steps, like adding a simple house or office plant or taking a few minutes to walk in nature when possible, these small changes can have a huge impact on our lives.

Sometimes it is hard to get out in nature as much as we need to. One way that I have begun to manage my stress and anxiety is to add plants to my home. I used to think that only people with a “green thumb” could grow houseplants. I always made excuses about why I could not do it. It was not until I was inspired by reading some research showing that, even the act of having a photo of a plant in an office improved mental health. At that point I decided to try out my gardening thumbs, green or not. I wanted to see if I could in fact learn to care for some of the more simple houseplants. I also took time to look at the kinds of plants that might make the biggest positive impact on the environment in my home. As a result, I have had well over 25 houseplants thriving in my home for almost two years now, and the difference in my home’s environment and my stress levels are very noticeable.

If you are interested in growing houseplants but tend to get stuck thinking it would be too hard or you don’t have space, you might consider a hanging basket. My first big excuse for avoiding bringing plants in my home used to be that I didn’t have anywhere to set a plant. I didn’t have enough window space to put very many plants, and I was worried that anything too low would get knocked over, or make the house feel cluttered. It was not until I found a style of hanging basket that worked with my decor, that I was able to really grow the size of my collection of plants. Hanging plants up high removes the concern of animals or children getting into them, and it saves counter space. It also brings the eye up in the home. I really think it makes the home feel bigger.

One reason I decided to add plants was because they help remove some toxins and odors from the air. Another thing that convinced me to try was when I learned about the sleep benefits of plants that release oxygen at night.

As you may know plants take in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, but most of the plants have a cycle where they release most of their oxygen during the day. There are a handful of plants including Mother in Laws Tongues, Aloe Vera, and Spider plants, that release oxygen at night. These are great plants to put in the bedroom to help with sleep. Mother in Laws tongues and Aloe are both cactus and can go a couple of weeks without water, which is also helpful if you travel or find it difficult to remember to water regularly. I would suggest the Aloe only if you have a very sunny window though, as they do require quite a lot of light. The Mother in Laws Tongue and Spider plants can handle lower light levels.

Another of my favorite plants to grow is the Peace Lily. They help to remove formaldehyde and benzene from the air, along with other cleaning chemical toxins, and they love the humidity. They can also take relatively low light so this is a great plant to have in or near a bathroom.

Spider plants are a great option to help purify the air as well, they are safe for pets, and they look great in a hanging basket if you choose to try one. They are also really hard to kill. They put off baby plants that you can easily replant so you can take a cutting from a friend for a free plant addition.

If any of this interests you don’t be afraid to do a quick internet search. If you can’t sleep, run a search for houseplants that help with sleep. If you have issues keeping plants alive search easy plants to grow. There is so much amazing information out there. And there are benefits in learning something new. I swore I didn’t know how to grow a plant, and now I am surrounded by them and they have added so much more peace to my home. Next time someone needs an idea for a special occasion gift, request a live plant. They are usually less expensive than a cut flower. A houseplant can add a lot of peace to the home, mind, environment and body.