As the weather changes, and you find yourself indoors for most of the day, consider adding the beauty of green houseplants to your living space.

Houseplants are popular as decorating accents, bringing natural color to a room and softening hard corners. The biggest benefit, though, is your health. According to Tony Fulmer, Chief Horticulture Officer at the Chalet in Wilmette, houseplants improve your health along with the health of your home.

Include houseplants in your decor and reap these health benefits: 

1. More oxygen for better breathing

Through photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Increasing oxygen levels can reduce drowsiness during the day, improve sleep at night and reduce the occurrence of headaches.

2. Higher humidity levels for comfort

Plants release water vapor, which increases the humidity level in your home. During the winter, increased moisture can help keep your respiratory system healthy and strong, reduce dry skin and keep you warm at a reduced temperature.

3. Cleaner air to live in

Plants remove toxins that are common in our homes. The NASA Clean Air Study, applied to space stations, proved that houseplants improve air quality. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a real concern as new homes and commercial buildings are sealed tight, reducing air flow. Plants absorb toxins and actually turn them into food for their roots. Common chemicals in your home, like formaldehyde (found in carpet, paper towels, grocery bags), benzene (found in inks, paints), and trichloroethylene (found in printing ink), are effectively reduced in the presence of plants.

4. Allergy and illness prevention

Exposing children to plant allergens early in life acts as an allergy shot and strengthens their immune system. For allergy sufferers, watering plants only when the soil is dry to prevent mold growth, and dusting the leaves to prevent dust mites, helps keep houseplants safe in your home. Your entire family will benefit from less illness this winter thanks to cleaner air and comfortable humidity levels that allow your body to function at its best.

5. Stress reduction

By bringing the outdoors in, you benefit from the effects of nature. Just the presence of green, or even flowers, can reduce blood pressure, allow for better mental acuity, reduce anxiety and improve your mood. Plants can even buffer the outdoor noises from traffic and construction, further reducing stress. A 2008 Dutch study concluded that hospital patients with plants in their rooms reported less stress than those without.

To get maximum benefits, the NASA study suggests 15 (6- to 8-inch) pots, or one large plant every 100 feet, in an 1,800-square-foot space. Fulmer recommends several plants that are easy to care for and widely available:

  • Spathiphyllum/Peace Lily
  • Dracena
  • Philodendron
  • Golden Pothos
  • Spider Plant
  • Palms
  • Schefflera
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Ferns and Orchids

Plants are an easy, beautiful way to improve your health and that of your house. Start with a few from your local garden center, grocery store, or even Target, and start reaping the benefits.