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Benefits of Houseplants

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
January 7, 2015        
Source:  Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns & Benton Counties

Release Date:  January 12, 2015

Benefits of Houseplants
By Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (1/7/15) — Most of us have at least one houseplant in our homes or at our workplace.  Houseplants provide several different benefits and value; these green, living plants have a powerful impact.
Several decades ago NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America did research on the benefits of houseplants as air purifiers for space facilities. Through this study they were able to find plants that filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). These VOCs cause headaches, nausea, itchy and red eyes, and loss of concentration. All of these plus other ailments can be categorized as “sick building” symptoms. Sick building symptoms are often caused because the tight, energy efficient buildings we live or work in contain toxic chemicals. The toxic chemicals such as benzene, xylene, and formaldehyde are from the building’s carpets, paint, and synthetic construction material.
In order for plants to be most efficient at clearing out these VOC’s, the plant needs to be healthy. Placing the plant in the correct location where it receives the right temperature and light is important. Watering and fertilizing is also critical.
Some of the most effective houseplants in removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air include: spider plant, philodendron, golden pothos, bamboo palm, Boston fern, English ivy, corn plant, mother-in law’s tongue, peace lily, and numerous dracaena species.
Another benefit to having houseplants is their ability to reduce molds and bacteria in the home or place of work. Studies have shown a reduction of as much as 50 to 60 percent fewer molds and bacteria in the air where the room was filled with plants versus a room with no plants.
In addition to ridding toxins from the air in our homes and workplaces, houseplants have other added value. All plants, through the process of photosynthesis, take in sunlight, water and carbon monoxide, and in turn produce oxygen. Plants also release moisture into the air through the process of transpiration.  Transpiration is the plants way to breathe and cool, and in turn helps decrease air temperature in a room and provide moisture.
Finally, houseplants create a more relaxed, enjoyable, and beautiful environment. Plants can help be a noise reducer, create division and privacy, and simply give us a green, living attraction.  Many plants can be quite inexpensive to purchase making it a more appealing option than other décor. Surveys and studies have shown the plants have a positive effect on employee’s perception and disposition; reducing the amount of employee absenteeism.
By simply having a collection of living plants in your homes or workplace you can improve your air quality and essentially your health. To see air quality improvements, approximately 15 six-inch pot houseplants are recommended per 2,000 square feet.
For more information on houseplants visit  and


Beth Berlin
Extension Educator, Horticulture
(320) 255-6169
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