Planted: Best plants to improve your home and health (and which ones aren't safe for kids or pets)

There's just something about having live plants in your home... even if your thumb is the furthest thing from green. They bring the outdoors in and add a refreshing break from all of the material possessions cluttering our lives. In fact, multiple studies have shown that employees who work in offices with plants tend to be more productive, feel better about their jobs, worry less, and take fewer sick days. Don't believe me? Listen to this TED Talk. Still have doubts? A 2011 study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology showed that houseplants in the office setting can actually prevent fatigue and improve attention span. Interesting, right?

NASA also did a Clean Air Study that tested which plants were most successful in removing harmful chemicals and toxins from the air. It's thirty pages long and ain't nobody got time for that, so I took the best bits and pieces to share with you.

Here's the low-down on the health benefits of house plants:

- Houseplants add moisture to the air. One study found a collection of spider plants boosted the relative humidity in a bedroom from 20% to 30%. 

- Golden pothos or a bamboo palm have been shown to improve concentration and memory

- To really reap these benefits, scientist Bill Wolverton (of the NASA study I mentioned) recommends two plants per 100 square feet. It is interesting to note that plants with larger leaves purify air quicker - makes sense.

Let's get into those that are best for purifying the air. The plants below have been known to remove such chemicals as formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, toluene, chloroform , trichloroethylene, carbon monoxide, and more that can be found in our cleaning products, cosmetics, detergents, and fragrances among other things. I mean come on, who needs an air purifier when you have your plant power?

The best plants to purify the air:

- English Ivy

- Pothos

- Snake Plants

- Spider Plants

- Bamboo

- Chinese Evergreen

- Weeping Fig

- Dragon Tree

- Aloe Vera

- Gerbera Daisies

The best plants for different rooms in your home:

For the bathroom: think low light, high moisture, inconsistent temperature.

- Aloe vera,

- Bamboo

- Chinese Evergreen

- Spider Plant

- Pothos

- Tillandsia (air plants)

- Philodendron

- Ferns

For the Nursery:

- Areca or Parlor Palm

- Snake Plant

- English Ivy (best in a hanging planter)

- Boston Fern (best in a hanging planter)

- Spider Plant

- Rubber Plant

- Jade

For the Kitchen:

- Aloe Vera

- English Ivy (best in a hanging planter)

- Herbs (think basil, mint, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and sage)

- Venus Flytrap (to grab those pesky bugs)

- Lemon, Lime, or Calamondin Orange tree

- Cacti or succulents (don't require much maintenance or water)

For the Bedroom:

- French Lavender (reduce both blood pressure and heart rate)

- Jasmine (improves the quality of your sleep and increases your chances of waking up with and less anxiety)

- Aloe Vera (emits oxygen at night instead of during the day)

- Rosemary (known to reduce anxiety and stress),

- Valerian flowers (according to this study they may help you fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer - needs a lot of direct light)

- Spider Plant

- Snake Plant (releases oxygen at night)

- Areca or Parlor Palm

Plants that aren't safe for kids or pets:

Plants to avoid for pets: If you're unsure if your plant is safe for Spot or Fluffy, check out this list just to be safe. Note, spider plants are totally safe for pets!

- English Ivy

- Hemlock

- Dumbcane,

- Amaryllis

- Lilies

- Sago Palm

- Tulips

- Daffodil

- Mums,

- Oleander,

- Foxglove

- Pothos

- Philodendrons

- Snake plants

- Dracaena fragrans or Corn plant

- Rubber Plants

Source: Pet Poison Helpline.

Plants to avoid for Kids:

- Pothos

- Philodendron,

- Oleander

- Lilies,

- Foxglove

- Daffodil

- English Ivy

- Dumbcane

- Dracaena fragrans or Corn plant

Source: National Capital Poison Center

After reading this article you can make a more informed decision on which houseplant is right for you. If you have allergies or if there are children or pets in your home, please be sure to do some extra research to ensure your health and safety!

Some of my favorite sources for plants (aside from local nurseries) are The Sill and Bloomscape - best part is, they are delivered right to your door!

Looking for other ways to make your home safer and remove toxins? Check out this post.



What is your favorite house plant? Did anything in this article surprise you? Drop a comment below!

Hi, I'm Courtney, and I'm the founder of Courtney Schrank Design Studio. I help high-powered female executives maintain their identity and well-being while working for someone else. Read more about my services here!

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