Scientific Benefits of Keeping Flowers in the Home

It makes sense that plants have healthful impacts on humans, since via our exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, we depend on one another to survive: What we breathe out, they breathe in, and vice-versa. But tons of research has found that the perks of keeping plants and fresh flowers at home, at work, or in hospital rooms go way beyond the air we breathe, affecting everything from pain perception to concentration.

If you’re like us, you don’t need any study to convince you of the benefits of flowers in the home. But it doesn’t hurt to have some hard evidence backing up your succulent obsession or cut flower habit!

So what exactly does the science say about the healing qualities of plants? How conclusive are these studies, and what’s really going on inside those stems, leaves, and petals? We’ll walk you through it below.


Anatomy of a Houseplant

First, a little bio lesson:

Like all living things, your fresh flowers and houseplants need a special mixture of light, water, and air to survive. And with the exception of those adorable Insta-friendly airplants, most plants also need well-draining soil with plenty of nutrients. With all the right ingredients, your plants will live happy lives soaking up the sun, feeding themselves through photosynthesis, breathing in the carbon dioxide you breathe out, and providing the oxygen you need to survive.

Plants in the Lab

With basic plant science in mind, it’s probably no surprise that studies have recorded strong correlations between plants and healthful effects on mood, pain perception, and air quality. But there is not widespread agreement on the conclusiveness of these studies nor on the causes for such healthful effects.

Of course, scientists have reasonable guesses. The NASA researchers who initially discovered plants’ air purification abilities were trying to find ways to detoxify the air in space shuttles and stations. Since plants are basically breathing machines, it makes sense that scientists would think to try them. While there has been debate since that 1989 study on the effectiveness of houseplants as air purifiers outside a controlled lab environment, the research established pretty convincing evidence that when the conditions are right, houseplants and flowers can literally provide a “breath of fresh air”.

In recent years, scientists have tested the depths of plant-human love with even more interesting hypotheses. Inspired by the detrimental effects of hyper-urban environments on humans, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researcher Ming Kuo wondered if the calming and mood-boosting effects of green spaces on our mental health results from some innate qualities provided by our “natural habitat” – that is, a more natural, pre-urban environment.

While the jury is still out on whether plants and fresh flowers at home are indeed fulfilling some innate need, Kuo’s studies have linked access to green spaces with relaxing effects on the sympathetic nervous system, and even – in some controlled studies – to better relations with one’s neighbors! (Next time your landlord complains about the potted plants on your balcony, tell them it’s a conflict resolution tool.)

The Healing Qualities of Plants

So what exactly are the benefits of plants and flowers in the home or office? As mentioned above, the links run the gamut from physical to mental health:

  • Big, leafy plants like the Boston fern or golden pothos may help remove pollutants from the air.
  • Being around (or even just seeing photos of) flowers, plants, and green spaces calms the sympathetic nervous system, making you feel more relaxed.
  • Plants and fresh flowers at home or work have been linked to boosts in mood, energy, and concentration.
  • Studies have shown the patients with fresh flowers in hospital rooms need less pain medication and have lower blood pressure.



3 thoughts on “Scientific Benefits of Keeping Flowers in the Home

  1. erotik says:

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