They can improve health
Plants have long been heralded throughout history for their medicinal properties, from ancient apothecaries to European medieval monks who experimented with leafy herbs in the treatment of diseases. But we didn't know until recently that their mere presence can have a healing effect, as was discovered by a team of researchers from Kansas State University. They studied the recovery rates of surgical patients who roomed with indoor plants. These patients registered lower heart rates and blood pressure, requested less pain medication, and were even released from the hospital sooner.
They can help nip sickness in the bud
And growing a plant in your cubicle could mean less sick days. In a workplace study commissioned by the Agricultural University of Norway, researchers investigated the effect of indoor plants on office employees. Among these employees, complaints of coughing, fatigue, hoarse throat, and dry, itchy skin dropped by a third. This can be accredite to an increased humidity in the air, due to transpiration -- a process by which the plant transmits moisture from its roots to the small pores on the underside of its leaves, and releases this vapor into the atmosphere.
They purify the air
Houseplants offer a much-needed breath of fresh air. In the late 1980s, NASA conducted a study to find a way to purify the air in space stations. According to its published report, common household plants proved themselves to be surprisingly efficient natural filters. Popular species like the peace lily, Chinese evergreen, and red-edged dracaena improved the indoor air quality by removing pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, and ammonia -- all of which often lurk in the form of plastics, furniture, and carpet fibers. Several studies in the following years have proven this theory. Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University found that the chosen plants for their experiment -- snake plant, spider plant, and golden pothos -- effectively reduced indoor concentrations of ozone produced by ordinary copy machines, laser printers, and ultraviolet lights.
They can help you be more productive
If you find your mind wandering when you should be working, a well-placed plant could help. The calming influence of nature is well documented, and studies have further investigated the mental effects of immersing yourself in some (indoor) nature -- and found improvements in concentration, memory, and productivity. In a specific case, Washington State University discovered that people who work within view of houseplants tend to complete tasks 12 percent faster than those without them.
They can make you happier
A touch of green can cure a case of the blues. And despite what you may think about having a green thumb, caring for a houseplant engenders positivity. In one study, elderly residents in an assisted-living facility were introduced to indoor gardening. They reported having a much happier mood and better perceived quality of life.