Houseplants are not merely a pretty addition to your home; they can promote good health and stress reduction. As you’ll see, there is much more to these humble, lovely plants than meets the eye.

Breathe easier and reduce stress.

We all know that plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but did you know that more oxygen in the air you breathe reduces your stress levels? When you have more oxygen flowing through your body, you feel better and have more energy.

Plants also release water into the air and increase the humidity in the room. If you have respiratory issues, that extra moisture helps you breathe easier and reduces stress on your lungs. Eucalyptus is a natural decongestant and can help your breathing.

Enjoy pure air.

Houseplants remove toxic chemicals from the air, including VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are commonly found in furniture, paint, and carpet. Newer homes and office buildings are more airtight than older buildings are, so these toxins become trapped. The more plants, the healthier the air, which in turn reduces stress on your body because it’s not working overtime to remove pollutants from your lungs and bloodstream.

The Dutch Product Board for Horticulture found that office plants reduced illness and fatigue. A study by the Agricultural University of Norway noted that rates of illness were 60 percent lower in plant-filled offices. Not only do plants add humidity to the environment, but they also reduce dust and other airborne particles that can irritate the respiratory tract.

Recover faster.

Patients with plants in their hospital rooms recovered from surgery faster than those who did not, according to a study at Kansas State University. The patients with plants used less medication and had lower blood pressure, meaning they experienced less stress. Their hospital stays were also shorter.

If you’re considering adding plants to your home, you’ll want to decide which plants will serve your purposes. If you wish to purify the air, try a spider plant, snake plant, or philodendron. Boston ferns and bamboo palms humidify the air, and a gerbera daisy or orchid will add oxygen to the air.

You might be asking how many house or office plants you need. It depends on what you want to accomplish. A good rule of thumb is one large plant (8-inch diameter pot or larger) or two smaller plants (4-inch diameter pot) per 100 square feet.

What do you use plants for in your home?