Taking care of houseplants can be a lot of work — some require pruning, others require a delicate balance of watering. Despite the workload they create, the effort is well worth it, as plants can provide a mental health boost and act as a form of self-care.
“Caring for houseplants can have a significant positive impact on mental health,” says Nilou Esmaeilpour, a registered clinical counselor and founder of Lotus Therapy. “The act of tending to plants requires attention, nurturing, and a connection to living things, which can offer several psychological benefits. Watering, pruning, and simply watching plants grow can have a calming effect. Engaging with plants can reduce cortisol levels, the primary stress hormone, and encourage relaxation.”
Not only can bringing plants into a home help to improve mental health, but there’s also benefits to physical health that can be attributed to houseplants as well, according to gardening expert Diana Cox, the founder of The Gardening Talk, who says houseplants help to improve air quality by absorbing toxins in the air.
“Houseplants contribute to improved air quality by eliminating toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene,” Cox explains. “These harmful substances can trigger headaches, fatigue, and other health concerns.”
The gardener also notes houseplants help their owners connect to nature, even if they live in an urban setting with limited access to nature, which again, helps further improve mental health.
“Irrespective of urban life, caring for houseplants fosters a connection with nature, known to alleviate stress and elevate mood,” Cox said.
Houseplants can also fill up empty space in homes and can help provide mood-boosting aesthetic value.
“Houseplants are excellent for filling vacant areas in your home, imparting a more welcoming atmosphere,” Cox said. “The presence of plants establishes an environment of tranquility and serenity, particularly advantageous in urban settings or for individuals facing high levels of stress.”
When it comes to choosing the right houseplant, Esmaeilpour notes it’s important to choose plants “that fit your living conditions and care abilities.” Consider how much watering certain plants need, how much sunlight they need, what types of soil they will require and what pruning will be necessary.
“Growing and maintaining healthy plants provides a sense of accomplishment and can boost self-esteem,” Esmaeilpour says. “Seeing the tangible results of your efforts can give a rewarding sense of purpose.”