Houseplants definitely make for stylish focal points, but welcoming nature into your home can also offer some serious health benefits. We put together a list of five of the best houseplants to add to your indoor garden.

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5 Ideal Plants for an Indoor Garden

On average, indoor air is two to five times more polluted than the outdoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency — and believe it or not, we can spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors.

Indoor gardens have characteristics that help fight off indoor pollutants and also offer benefits that can improve your health. We put together a list of some of the most beneficial plants to add to your home and why.

Why create an indoor garden?

Houseplants make for stylish focal points, but welcoming nature into your home isn’t just about style.

  • They improve air quality. Indoor air quality refers to the air quality within buildings and structures as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. It can be affected by many factors: including gases, particulates and microbial contaminants found in paints, furnishings, clothing and building materials. Indoor gardens play pivotal roles in filtering polluted air and levels of chemicals. According to NASA, houseplants are ideal for purifying indoor air — and they’re able to remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in a 24-hour period.
  • They make you happier. Indoor gardens are also big mental health boosters. The American Horticultural Therapy Association notes that plants can increase your self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety and promote feelings of optimism. Feeling stressed? Pick up one of our recommended houseplants to add to your indoor garden.
  • They fight off colds. According to a University of Agriculture study, indoor plants increase humidity levels and decrease dust, reducing cold-related illnesses by more than 30 percent. These natural humidifiers will help you breathe easy and reduce sore throats, dry coughs, and dry skin.

Here are 5 air-purifying, easy-to-care-for plants for your indoor garden:

add a snake plant to your indoor garden

1. Snake Plant

Also known as the mother-in-law’s tongue, snake plants are one of the most tolerant plants on the market. These waxy, sharp-leafed plants can grow anywhere from eight inches to 12 feet high.

Snake plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night, which is the opposite of the process that most plants follow. Sharing your room with these plants could give you a slight boost in oxygen while you sleep. This power plant can also filter out formaldehyde found in products like toilet paper, tissues and personal cleaning products.

Snake plants are perfect for garden beginners because they can be neglected for weeks at a time and maintain their freshness and shape. They also thrive in humid conditions such as those found in your bathroom, an area that typically contains a lot of formaldehyde from household cleaning products.

“The snake plant is flexible about lighting and humidity, but it’s fussy about the amount of water it gets,” says Bonnie Grant of Gardening Know How. The only thing that will kill a snake plant is over-watering. Choose a container tall enough to hold the leaf, place in indirect light and water every couple of days.”

Caring for it:

  • Temperature: This plant loves humid conditions and will thrive off of room temperature. Turn the pot a quarter of a turn once per week for even light exposure.
  • Soil: General potting soil should do. A small amount of soil will guarantee that the moisture in this plant is used up quickly.
  • Water: Water every 7-10 days. Always wait until the pot is dry (and the water drains from the bottom) before watering again.
  • Potting: Most plants come in containers that allow for adequate growth, but they may grow out of them. Remember to repot only when the plant starts breaking the pot with its roots.

The waxy leaves of this plant can get dusty from time to time, so remember to wipe with a damp cloth.

indoor aloe vera plant

2. Aloe Vera Plant

This easy-to-grow succulent plant helps clear formaldehyde and benzene, which is found in chemical-based cleaners, paints and more.

Beyond its air-cleaning abilities, the gel inside this medicinal plant helps heal cuts, burns, rashes and abrasions (note: always check with a medical professional before using this as a home remedy). It also contains potent antioxidants that act as a wonderful natural moisturizer: one teaspoon of aloe gel and one teaspoon of coconut oil make the perfect skin cream.

Caring for it:

  • Temperature: Aloe likes room temperatures around 70 degrees and lots of sunlight. Place near a window for ideal brightness.
  • Soil: This indoor house plant prefers dry, sandy soil, so check your garden store for a cacti mix — this is for plants that prefer their roots to be dry instead of wet. To help hold in moisture, place pebbles or shells over the exposed soil.
  • Water: Water once every 10 days. If the leaves start to brown or grow downward instead of upward, you probably aren’t watering it enough.
  • Potting: Aloe plants also often come in flimsy and small plastic containers (and love to grow). To help this plant last for years, repot this in a bigger pot where it will have more room. If the aloe leaves grow to be as tall as the pot, it’s time to graduate to a larger container (or look into propagation techniques).
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The aloe vera plant has a unique root system — its roots grow horizontally and shallowly. Opt for a pot that has a large width, not one that is deep. Otherwise, the roots will not reach the bottom of the pot, leaving the soil and water unused.

“Novice indoor gardeners should begin their first garden planting with aloe vera,” notes Jason of Houseplants Experts. “It’s definitely a ‘can’t miss’ plant. Place the pots on tapered pedestals in empty corners or on lamp tables to brighten a room. In the long days of winter, aloe vera is often the only green spot in the house.”

spider plant

3. Spider Plant.

Spider plants are one of the most common houseplants, not to mention they’re incredibly easy to grow. If you cut off one of the leaves, simply place it in a pit and watch it regrow. They’re effective at fighting pollutants including benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene — a solvent used in leather, rubber and printing industries. They also make the NASA list of best air-purifying plants.

Caring for it:

  • Temperature: Provide bright fluorescent lighting and spider plants will do just fine. Room temperatures should be between 60 to 75 degrees to keep them thriving.
  • Soil: Spider plants will grow in a wide range of well-draining media, including general potting soil (as long as it doesn’t contain fertilizer with significant amounts of fluoride since the mineral can damage the plant).
  • Water: Before watering, let the pot surface feel dry to the touch. Water this plant until it drains from the bottom and be sure to empty drained water from trays promptly. Once in awhile, they will show dead leaf tips (they will appear brown and shriveled). Groom these by trimming them off with scissors.
  • Potting: When moving a spider plant to a new pot, choose one that is one to two inches larger than the pot it came in. For spider plants, opt for heavy plastic pots: clay pots can be disastrous down the road since these plants grow large roots that can burst fragile pots.
english ivy for indoor garden

4. English Ivy

English Ivy reduces airborne fecal matter particles and has also been shown to filter out formaldehyde in household cleaning products. If you have a smoker in your home, then removing benzene from the air should be a top priority — and English Ivy is one of the best plants for removing it (and aiding in asthma).

Caring for it:

  • Temperature: The most important part of indoor ivy plant care is light. Without enough light, English ivy plants will become prone to pests and become sickly looking.
  • Soil: English Ivy plants need soil with the right kind of pH balance. Look for a  soil that has around 7 for a pH.
  • Water: This plant prefers to be kept on the dry side, so let the soil dry out some before watering. Also, be sure this plant has excellent drainage.
  • Potting: English Ivy can be trained to grow up on a trellis, container, or hanging setting. Place this in a terracotta container or let it climb an entry.
indoor garden chinese evergreen

5. Chinese Evergreen

This plant is known as one of the easiest houseplants because it requires very few things. Chinese evergreen thrives in low light and will grow in places where other plants may not. It helps filter out a variety of air pollutants and toxins.

Caring for it:

  • Temperature: Chinese evergreens like warm, slightly humid conditions with room temperatures of at least 65 degrees. If left too dry, leaf tips can turn slightly brown.
  • Soil: Spider plants will grow in a wide range of well-draining media, including general potting soil (as long as it doesn’t contain fertilizer with significant amounts of fluoride since the mineral can damage the plant).
  • Water: Because they are tropical plants, they like humid air — so remember to mist the leaves occasionally.
  • Potting: If your plant is leaning to one side, rotate the pot to balance the amount of light it receives.“With this plant, it’s actually sometimes easier to keep it in its plastic container instead of repotting,” notes Gene Bussell from Southern Living. “It avoids the risk of transplant shock, you can water them where they are, and it makes them easier to move.”

Looking to buy a few different plants? The more, the merrier. According to Healthline experts, you need a plant for every 10 square yards of floor in your house to ensure a considerable degree of air detox. And remember: the biggest reason for planting an indoor garden is the ability to control the environment. Whichever plants you decide to go with, give your indoor garden the time and love it needs to grow.

Disclaimer: If you have pets, check with the ASPCA to be sure any plant you bring into  your home is pet-friendly.

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About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Hi! I'm Lauren, lover of all things old and enchanting. I'm excited to bring you some of my favorite home organization and storage tips as well as share my passion for antiques, DIY and home decor.

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