Potted house plants not only can beautify your surroundings but also contribute to your overall health and well-being.

Most everyone can agree plants in a home can lift your spirits. Who has not experienced the mood pick-me-up created by a bouquet of fresh flowers? Besides livening up a room, plants and flowers can give your outlook a boost.

How House Plants Improve Mood and Air QualityHow House Plants Improve Mood and Air Quality

Studies have shown plants and flower bouquets can have a calming effect: They can help you relax by decreasing blood pressure, heart rate and release of the stress hormone cortisol. A philodendron with a heart-shaped leaf or snake plant added to your decor may ease your stress while adding beauty to your rooms. Lavender plants also can ease anxiety. Research has shown that plants can benefit an office as well as a home environment. Potted plants were shown to help employees feel better about their jobs and even take fewer sick days.

Besides helping improve mental attitudes, house plants can add moisture to the air. This is particularly beneficial when furnaces and air conditioners sap up humidity indoors, especially during the winter. Dry air can increase your chances for catching a cold or flu or cause itchy skin. Place spider plants around your home to increase moisture in your rooms.

Plants can also act as air purifiers since their roots and soil can soak up pollutants such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Indoor objects such as carpeting, paint cleaners, printer toners and ink give off VOCs. When VOCs build up in the air, they can irritate your eyes and skin making it hard to breathe, especially if you have asthma. Among air scrubbing plants are English ivy, Boston ferns and rubber and ficus trees.

Scientific support for phytoremediation–the scientific term for plant scrubbing contaminants from the air–is found in a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) study conducted in the 1980s.

Of course, if you have children and pets, it is best to check with a reliable source to make sure a plant you have selected is safe to place around your home. Check with your state extension service and poison control office which may publish a list of toxic house plants in your region. Another resource is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Adding house plants to your surroundings and carrying out the indoor gardening tasks required to care for them can reduce both physiological and psychological stress. That may explain why greenery-inspired interior designs, plant-focused podcasts and online plant subscriptions such as Lazy Flora and Grounded are gaining in popularity.

So, pick up your trowel and garden gloves and pot a plant to help you feel more comfortable, soothed and relaxed.

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