Houseplants and mental health: Is there a link?

You’ve had a long day at work. You walk into your home and see your beautiful houseplants decorating your special little space. You automatically smile. There’s something very special about our plants and how they fit into our lives, but does owning a houseplant actually improve our mental health? They may be more than beautiful statement pieces.

Whether it’s a snake plant, pathos, or ficus, it’s almost guaranteed to walk into someone’s home and see some type of houseplant decorating the living room or bedroom. It’s the ultimate trend at the moment, but these green beauties may have more purpose than just decorating your window sill. There’s been a lot of talk about whether owning houseplants can actually make us happier while improving our mental health, and there’s been studies to figure it out once and for all.

In a study published by Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, researchers surveyed more than 4,000 people across the world during the COVID-19 pandemic to see if there was a link between increased mental health and owning houseplants. According to the results, 74% of the people surveyed who owned houseplants reported that they experienced less negative emotions and overall felt more positive during the pandemic (1). For those surveyed who did not own any houseplants, the participants shared that they experienced more negative emotions such as sadness and stress than those who did own plants. As a result, 55% of that demographic admitted to wishing they owned more houseplants. 

This supposed link between mental health and owning houseplants could be because of their relation to nature and being outside. Have you ever felt particularly stir-crazy or stressed out and was immediately calmed by just taking a walk around the block? Numerous studies have proven that being outside or surrounded by nature has a direct correlation to lifting our spirits and helping any anxiety or stress we may be feeling. So, taking that into account, it’s no wonder that being surrounded by houseplants also has proven to bring some much-needed positivity into our lives.

One other way that owning houseplants can improve our emotional well-being is by giving us a purpose in taking care of them. It’s not uncommon for a houseplant to wither while on your watch, but learning the basics of taking care of each different type not only motivates us to take better care of them but gives us a goal. This increase in productivity can later lend itself to matters outside of our inner botanist. According to a 2015 study from the Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied, workers who had plants in their office spaces expressed feeling more creative, motivated, and overall productive while at work (2). So, not only do these houseplants bring some much needed beauty into spaces that can be cramped and dull, but they’re the perfect accessory to bring some inspiration for the rest of your day.

Some may call it a trend, but evidence proves that houseplants can lift our spirits during especially stressful times. So, what are you waiting for? Visit your nearest plant store, find your latest (or first) plant child, and get ready to light up a room!

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