If you spend any time on Instagram or Pinterest, you’re well aware that plants are having a moment. Adding a little live art to your home is an easy and inexpensive way to instantly up the chic factor. But aside from aesthetics, there’s another reason you should start making regular visits to your local nursery: Plants have serious health benefits.
Extensive research conducted by NASA found that gorgeous green foliage can eliminate up to 87 percent of air toxins in just 24 hours. Studies have also found that plants can reduce stress, boost concentration, increase happiness and boost creativity. And don’t worry if your thumb isn’t exactly green. There are plenty of plants that take little to no maintenance. From your bedroom to the office, here are seven plants that will not only brighten up your life, they will also benefit your health.
1. Bedroom: Snake Plant
A snake plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue (yes, for real) or sansevieria, is a great plant for just about anywhere, says horticulturist Justin Hancock of Costa Farms, one of the largest plant growers in the country. First off, it’s totally low-maintenance: It grows in low, medium or bright light and doesn’t mind if you water it infrequently or regularly.
Basically, even those who don’t do well with plants can keep it alive. Oh yeah, and it’s totally cool-looking too, with its bold green hue and striking lines. What makes it perfect for the room you spend most of your time in? “It’s a particularly good pick for bedrooms because it’s an efficient air purifier and releases oxygen at night,” Hancock says.
2. Bathroom: Calathea
You may have never heard of the calathea (sometimes called peacock, rattlesnake or zebra plant), but it’s likely you’ve seen photos of it on Instagram, as the gorgeous tropical houseplant is growing in popularity. Because it loves humidity, the bathroom is the perfect place for it. “It has a bit of a reputation for being a diva in dry air, so keeping it in your shower helps it stay happy and healthy,” says horticulturist Justin Hancock. He also says it’ll help your bathroom stay a little fresher and cleaner, as it removes volatile organic compounds, mold spores and other yucky things from the air.
3. Kitchen: Anthurium
Looking for something bright, colorful and exotic to cheer up your cooking and eating spaces? The anthurium — a plant genus of about 1,000 species available in orange, pink, purple, red or white hues — is a great option. First off, its leaves and long-lasting flowers are heart-shaped, helping to put a smile on your face while sauteing kale. Since it hails from the tropics, “it appreciates the extra warmth and humidity,” says Hancock, making it the perfect kitchen plant. An added bonus? “It rewards your care with its air-purifying powers.”
4. Den or Living Room: Ficus Alii
If you’re looking for a bigger potted plant to fill an empty corner of your den or living room, then ficus alii may be your new best friend. The elegant, gorgeously textured foliage will brighten up the room with something lush and living, and as for care, it isn’t too finicky. “It grows best in a bright spot, but doesn’t mind medium light, either,” says horticulturist Justin Hancock. Bonus? While its cousin the weeping fig is known to throw temper tantrums and drop leaves all over the floor, alii is way less messy — even if you don’t have a perfect care routine. And they’ll help keep the air clean.
5. Office or Work Space: Fittonia Albivenis
Fact: Indoor plants have been scientifically proven to reduce stress. Seeing as how work tends to tighten our nerves in the worst way possible, what better foliage to decorate your desk than something called the nerve plant? The stunning tropical plant, also known as fittonia albivenis, features vibrantly hued green leaves variegated with red, pink or white, so you can liven up your cubicle with whatever color scheme you please.
It also stays somewhat small and tidy, so you don’t have to worry about it growing out of bounds and into your co-workers’ space. And don’t worry about the fact you aren’t anywhere close to a window. “The nerve plant tolerates low light and doesn’t need the sun to grow — it’ll survive and thrive under fluorescent lights,” says horticulturist Justin Hancock.
6. Kid’s (or Just a “Kid at Heart”) Bedroom: Desert Gems
Desert gems colorful cacti are perfect plants for preteen rooms because not only are they colorful, but they’re also extremely easy to care for. The soft-spined cacti (no, they aren’t that prickly, so you don’t have to worry about injuries) come in bold shades of green, blue, purple, pink, red, orange or yellow and add a touch of cheer to any space. But the best thing about them is they can go weeks without water, says horticulturist Justin Hancock, making them ideal for kids — or even adults.
Read more: 5 Tips for Stress-Free Gardening
7. Dining Room: Succulents
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve seen them everywhere from upscale retail stores to restaurants. If you want to add some live elegance to your dining room table, try a succulent centerpiece. “These no-nonsense plants come in a wide variety of colors and textures, and most are low-growing, so you don’t have to worry about them taking up too much space,” says horticulturist Justin Hancock.
They grow best in high light and may only need watering once every few weeks. If you really want to reap health benefits from your succulents, consider adding aloe vera to your collection. It can be used for everything from healing scratches and soothing itchy bug bites to supporting thyroid and intestinal health.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you have plants in your home or office? Do you feel like you reap the health benefits of indoor plants? What are your favorites? Share your thoughts, suggestions and questions in the comments below!
Leah Groth is a writer and editor currently based in Philadelphia. She has covered topics such as entertainment, parenting, health & wellness for xoJane, Babble, Radar, Fit Pregnancy, Mommy Nearest, Living Healthy and PopDust.