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Growing Up with Plants

Many people love indoor plants. I grew up with them in the house, and I have fond memories of my mother and grandmother making the rounds every day; a little water here, a little mist there. I remember the large bags of potting soil and the platoon of water jugs lined up under the sink. I remember asking my mother why she kept so many jugs of water.

“The plants,” she said, or at least partially. My ADD was pretty much in full swing until my late teens.

When we grow up and create our own homes, many of us naturally mimic much of what we saw growing up. That is, after we get through our “black phase.” That’s where we buy the black leather furniture and other stuff that we think is cool and unique until we later realize that not only is not original, but it’s also as impractical as that changing table you will buy later during your wife’s first pregnancy.

Free advice: the world is your changing table. Save your money.

So when I finally became serious about making my house look like a home, I remembered the plants. I remember how calming they were. If this was going to work, I would need them.

Little did I know that in my effort to mimic Mom, I was actually doing much more for my house and its inhabitants than any faux leather Ottoman could ever accomplish.

breathing easy

1. More Oxygen Equals Better Breathing

As we all know from school, plant photosynthesis produces oxygen from carbon dioxide. If you think about that from a grand scheme perspective, it becomes obvious that we were meant to have them around us. Is it merely a coincidence that we each give off what the other needs?

Did you know that excess amounts of carbon dioxide that can result from rooms occupied by groups of people (an office, a crowded home, etc.) can cause drowsiness? Plants can reduce this effect, increasing alertness.

2. Plants Purify the Air You Breathe

In addition to giving you fresh new oxygen to breathe, most houseplants also take contaminants out of the existing air. NASA research discovered that house plants remove a significant amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which exist from objects or activities within the home.

Three of the biggest offenders include:


Formaldehyde can come from many different sources. Fairly obvious pollutants like cigarettes and wood-burning stoves help contribute to higher formaldehyde levels. Yet it can also be found in fairly innocuous items like pressed woods (plywood, particle board), rugs, permanent press clothing, and linens.[1]


Benzene is found in higher concentrations indoors than outside. Common household contributors include glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents. Gas ranges are also known to emit benzene. The biggest contributor, however, is tobacco smoke.[2]

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

TCE can result from rug cleaners, metal cleaners, glues, and adhesives. TCE has also been known to contaminate groundwater. This can be spread throughout the home by using this water for everyday purposes like drinking, cleaning, or bathing.[3]


3. A Fern a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

There are several health benefits of having plants around. Plants have been shown to reduce high blood pressure, anxiety, and headaches. The humidity from plants reduces dry skin in arid climates helps reduce colds by 30%. Specific plants like aloe help to treat burns while eucalyptus breaks up phlegm to combat congestion.

happinessCredit: wikicommons

4. Better Mental Wellbeing

Studies have shown that having plants in your house can affect your mood. Plants can make their owners calmer and more optimistic. Patients whose recovery rooms face a garden have been shown to recover more quickly than those whose rooms face a wall. Also, the American Horticultural Therapy Association suggests that plants can increase your sense of stability, control, and self-esteem.[4]

plant responsibility

5. Plants Teach Responsibility

If you have chore-aged children, putting them in charge of the daily care and maintenance of indoor plants is a perfect way to teach them responsibility and respect for life. They can take joy from seeing the plants thrive from proper care as well as what happens when they don’t do what they’re supposed to. This is similar to the lesson that having pets teaches children only you won’t get stuck walking that Beagle everyday if they decide they aren’t ready.

What Plants to Get

A large number of plants will give you many of the benefits listed above. Each kind has its own optimum growing environment including how often you should water them, sunlight requirements, and overall resilience. Also, be mindful of how toxic they are to pets if you have any. Here are few of suggestions to get you started.

golden pothosCredit: wikicommons

Golden Pothos

(Epipremnum aureum syn. Scindapsus aureus)

Great for air filtering, the Golden Pothos is attractive and fairly easy to maintain. It needs less water in colder climates and it does well even in partial sunlight. However, keep in mind that it is considered toxic to cats and dogs and could result in mouth irritation or vomiting if swallowed.[5]

spider plantCredit: wikicommons

Spider Plant

(Chlorophytum comosum)

Spider plants are a good choice for those with little to no experience in caring for plants. It grows fast, looks good, and is incredibly resilient. It does best in indirect sunlight and it’s best to allow it to become a little dry before watering it. These plants look great hung up and doing so will keep them out of reach of little hands and paws.

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Peace Lily


Peace Lilies are known to remove mold from the air. As such, they are perfectly suited for rooms that experience lots of moisture like bathrooms and kitchens. They are fairly easy to take care of and don’t require a lot of light.

gerbera daisyCredit: wikicommons

Gerbera Daisy

(Gerbera jamesonii)

These colorful plants give off oxygen during the night, making them ideal for bedrooms. Help them out by placing them in a bedroom window with plenty of sunshine during the day, and they will help you out at night by improving your sleep![6]

So if you are looking for ways to improve the décor of your home, why not start with something that gives back a little? Not only will houseplants keep you healthier and happier, they’ll probably be around far longer than that must-have Ottoman.

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