Recently, The New York Times declared the fiddle-leaf fig the new “it” plant of the design world — which, if you keep tabs on Pinterest, shouldn’t come as a surprise. But it turns out plants have a slew of benefits besides turning your pad into a dreamy Instagram haven (#jealous).
What benefits, you ask? Oh, just improving air quality, boosting positivity, and increasing productivity and concentration. As in, they’re a total gamechanger.
“Plants help offset the synthetic look of most homes and offices, and give a sense of calming nature to soothe us,” explains Christopher Satch, resident plant expert at the online plant purveyor The Sill. “They produce fresh oxygen, increase mood, and provide companionship.”
On top of being bomb de-stressors, indoor greenery also removes volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and other harmful toxins found in many household cleaning supplies from your air apply, according to NASA. Those ingredients can be responsible for light-headedness, headache, nausea, sleeplessness, and a whole host of ordinary ailments that make the struggle REAL.
In case you aren’t already Googling your local nursery, studies show plants have a serious effect on office life, too. Workers in environments with ample indoor plants reported fewer cases of cough, dry throat, and fatigue (take that, flu season!), while also observing higher levels of productivity, concentration, and overall satisfaction, this Norwegian study found.
Does that make you want ALL the plants? Same here. We tapped Satch to get us started with three easy options to turn our homes (and offices!) into a green oasis.
Option 1: The Snake Plant
Have a black thumb? No worries. Satch insists snake plants, succulents native to the dry regions of South Africa, are so easy that even a proven plant-killer can keep them alive. “Most desert-derived plants like the snake plant have adapted to fending for themselves,” he says. “In other words, snake plants do the most work with the least amount of investment.”
To care for them, all you have to do is water them about once a month and keep them in low to bright light. They’ll do the air-purifying (and mood-lifting) work for you.
Option 2: Aloe
Like the snake plant, aloe is part of the succulent family native to the arid parts of Africa — and is hearty enough to withstand even the most lax care routine. “Aloe uses CAM Photosynthesis, which is a type of photosynthesis where the plant’s pores are only open at night,” Satch explains. “This helps to reduce water loss, making it well-suited for dry environments — and a forgetful plant parent!”
Bonus: You can even cut a small piece off the end the plant, which will emit a gel-like substance that can be rubbed on cuts, scrapes, and sunburns for skin-soothing relief (yep, you don’t need to buy that drugstore bottle with all those additives). Again, you only have to water this one about once a month, but be sure to keep it in bright, direct sunlight.
Option 3: Boston Fern
Ancient fern plants will make you feel like you’re living in a forest while simultaneously making it easier to breathe. “They evolved when the climate of the Earth was much wetter, and as such, prefer to be wet,” Satch explains. “They have many pores on their fronds, and as such, they release their moisture into the air, raising humidity.”
As anyone who’s deployed a bedside humidifier in the winter months knows, moister air means easier breathing, hydrated skin, and even fewer colds (and a bushy plant is much cuter than that clunky machine). For the happiest fern, place in bright, indirect sunlight and treat your plant to a daily misting and weekly watering. Serious jungle vibes await.