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8 houseplants that reduce stress - the best flora and foliage to keep stress at bay

 Plants hanging and on wall in home office.
Plants hanging and on wall in home office.

Houseplants make an attractive addition to our interiors, but their place in the home goes beyond their surface-level aesthetic appeal. You might have heard before that there are houseplants that reduce stress, but have had a difficult time understanding this. After all, how can a simple houseplant lower our stress and anxiety?

But there is substantial evidence to suggest that houseplants really can have a positive impact on our mood, and yes, our stress. The experts affirm that the presence of houseplant ideas in the home can bring benefits to our lives.

'All houseplants will have a positive impact on stress levels and anxiety,' says Suzie Wolley, Head of Product, Serenata Flowers. 'Many studies have shown that feeling connected to nature can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood - so it really is beneficial to bring the outside in.'

There's a whole wealth of benefits houseplants can offer, but which are the best houseplants that reduce stress? Similar to discovering the best houseplants to improve wellbeing, there are certain plant varieties that the experts recommend more than others if you're looking for a little help managing your stress.

coloured pots with plants on shelf
coloured pots with plants on shelf

8 houseplants that reduce stress

We spoke to the horticultural and growing experts to find out more about which houseplants can reduce stress, and they narrowed it down to eight top picks. These plants will make a lovely addition to any room in the home, though they're most likely to be among the best plants for the bedroom, as this is the space we most want to invoke a calm and soothing atmosphere.

Can houseplants reduce stress?

Before we jump in to the expert-approved houseplants for reducing stress, it's important to get some clarification on what evidence there is that plants in the home can help us manage stress better.

'A recent study investigating the perceptions of over 500 participants showed that lush and rounded/spherical plant canopies elicited more positive effects on perceived well being,' says Dr Tijana Blanusa, a Principal Horticultural Scientist at RHS.

This study found that plants with rounded canopy contours had the most positive impact on participants' wellbeing, and therefore, were the most likely to reduce stress.

Dr Tijana, who supervised the study, adds that positive feelings also spill into perceiving the plant’s value for improving the room air quality. In other words, if we feel like our houseplants are cleansing our environment, we are less likely to feel stressed.

The best houseplants for reducing stress

Certain plant varieties have been shown to be more capable of reducing our stress levels than others. Here are the researched-back houseplants that can have a positive impact on our mood, and our stress.

1. Lavender

close up lavender plant
close up lavender plant

Unsurprisingly, the soothing aroma of lavender secures its place on the list of the best houseplants that reduce stress. Lavender scent is often recommended by professionals to help people who want to sleep better, as it can induce feelings of calm and relaxation.

'Lavender is widely considered the best houseplant for anxiety, as it’s been shown to reduce feelings of tension and stress and promote relaxation,' says Keira Kay, Plant Expert, Bloom & Wild. 'This is why it’s often added to sleep sprays, hot water bottles and other aids.'

Learn how to grow lavender yourself and you'll experience the added benefits of nurturing a plant and bringing to life, aside from the calmness that comes once the lavender starts to flourish.

2. Swiss Cheese Plant

'Studies have shown that having a monstera, also known as a Swiss cheese plant, in your home or office can significantly reduce stress and promote relaxation, nurturing your mental wellbeing,' Patty Willems, from sustainable plant pot creator elho says.

The large, leafy greenery of the Swiss cheese plant can reduce stress merely through its aesthetic. Watching the leaves grow can make us feel closer to nature, which experts emphasise as essential for keeping our stress levels to a minimum.

This plant is also relatively easy to care too, which contributes to feelings of ease brought by having them in our home. 'Monsteras don’t like being sat in water or having soggy soil, so make sure you don’t overwater and ensure its pot has adequate drainage to avoid root rot,' Patty adds.

3. Peace Lily

Peace lily in grey pot on floor
Peace lily in grey pot on floor

Known for its array of leaves and sprouting white flowers, the peace lily is another of the best houseplants that reduce stress. The air-purifying properties of this aptly named plant can have positive effects on our breathing, and therefore, our stress levels.

'As studied by NASA, peace lilies are amazing air cleaners, allowing you to breathe more deeply,' explains Suzie Wolley, Serenata Flowers. 'Peace lilies can also increase room humidity by up to 5%, which helps with breathing while asleep. Improved quality of sleep can have a positive impact on anxiety and your ability to cope with it during the day.'

Better breathing can lower our cortisol levels, which is the hormone that increases when we feel stressed. Caring for a peace lily isn't overly complicated either - it can thrive with a weekly watering and misting, along with batches of indirect sunlight.

4. Snake Plant

snake plant  in white pot on shelf
snake plant in white pot on shelf

Despite its disconcerting name, the snake plant is heralded by experts as a stress-reducing houseplant, thanks to its ability to purify the air around us and induce feelings of calm. Learn how to propagate a snake plant and you'll experience a wealth of wellbeing benefits, during both the growing process and once the plant begins to bloom.

'These low-maintenance potted plants thrive in any indoor environment, making the perfect office plant,' says plant expert Kay. 'Snake plants are especially useful for purifying indoor air quality as they’ve been linked to the filtration of stress-inducing toxins like formaldehyde and benzene.'

Remember, the link between houseplants that cleanse the air and reduced stress levels has been shown in a recent study with Dr Tijana.

5. Jasmine

Circular jasmine plant in pink pot
Circular jasmine plant in pink pot

A sweet and fragrant plant, jasmine is another potted green friend that can help reduce stress. Aside from the aesthetic white flowers and small green leaves, experts say that the jasmine plant emits a mood-boosting aroma, which can not only lower our stress levels but boost our energy and productivity too.

You'll just need to take a little bit of care when caring for your jasmine plant. 'Jasmine plants enjoy full sun, and need feeding with water-soluble food,' Patty Williams says. 'Jasmines also do not like dry soil, so ensure it doesn’t dry out by checking regularly and giving a little drink when needed!'

Taking care of your jasmine plant is well worth any effort, as you might find yourself feeling more relaxed and energised with it around.

6. Asparagus fern

Blue storage with blue paint hallway
Blue storage with blue paint hallway

'Asparagus ferns have many spiritual connotations, and are well-known for symbolising growth, protection and enhancing emotional wellbeing,' Patty says.

Common asparagus ferns look gorgeous in the home, thanks to their haphazardly sprouting shape and pale green leaves. But its their connotations of growth and security that make them one of the best houseplants that reduce stress. Asparagus ferns are said to hold a timeless elemental wisdom, and feng shui experts are keen advocates of adding them to the home.

'What’s more, these gorgeous green plants are hardy and are very easy to care for - just position in a bright but indirect area of sunlight,' adds Patty.

7. Devil's Ivy

Plants hanging and on wall in home office
Plants hanging and on wall in home office

The name might not invoke feelings of calm, but experts say that Devil's Ivy is ideal for keeping stress at bay, thanks in part to its air-purifying qualities. The other attribute of Devil's Ivy that secures its place as one of the best houseplants to reduce stress is its ease of maintenance.

'Unhealthy looking plants make us feel uneasy and stressed – so choosing the plants carefully and looking after them well is key,' Dr Tijana from RHS says. 'Plants like Epipremnum (devil’s ivy) although thirsty, can be really easy to look after, particularly in self-watering containers or with regular watering.'

Houseplants that stay blooming without hassle are much more likely to lower our stress levels than add to them.

8. The ZZ plant

Zanzibar gem plant
Zanzibar gem plant

The zamioculcas zamiifolia - ZZ for short - is an evergreen plant that can have wonderful effects on our wellbeing and stress levels. Once blossomed, ZZs can grow up to 4 feet tall, meaning there's lots of positivity to go around. Their dark, leafy greens can keep feelings of stress at bay, while invoking a sense of calm.

The ZZ plant is also notoriously easy to care for too, which as we've mentioned, is a common theme amongst the best houseplants that reduce stress. They need a drink once a fortnight, and can go even longer sometimes. If anything, they don't enjoy frequent watering, and if you hydrate them regularly you'll need to learn how to save an overwatered plant.

Where to buy houseplants online

It can be tricky knowing where you can shop for houseplants online. However, we've had a great experience with the following retailers who stock many of the plants in our list:

FAQs

What is the best houseplant for anxiety?

Many houseplants can have a positive effect on managing anxiety, but there are certain plants that better lend themselves to this purpose. Lavender is widely considered the best houseplant for anxiety, due to its soothing aroma which has long since been associated with promoting better sleep.

'Lavender plants are known to have a relaxing and calming effect on the mind, and can therefore be beneficial to those suffering with anxiety,' Suzie from Seranata Flowers confirms.

One study has shown that lavender can have positive effects on both mood and the nervous system in adults. It is often used in essential oil form in products designed to induce feelings of calm and relaxation. Having the plant in its natural form could help minimise symptoms of anxiety, as you'll experience the benefits of being closer to nature, as well as the relaxing scent.

What houseplants boost your mood?

The mood-boosting qualities of all houseplants is well known. They bring nature into the home, which has been proven time and again to have a positive impact on our wellbeing. That being said, there are certain plant varieties that with even more uplifting benefits than others.

'Jasmine is an elegant and blissful plant that is not only pleasing to look at, but also offers a natural way to boost your mood at work and home,' Patty Williams says. 'Its fragrant aroma and vibrant green leaves create a thriving and calm environment, so while it’s working hard to keep the air smelling fresh, your interiors get a natural uplift too, along with your mood!'

Aside from jasmine, experts cite the snake plant as mood-boosting, thanks to its ability to cleanse the environment of toxins. Cleaner air means clearer thinking, which is a sure way to boost our mood and energy levels too.

The best houseplants that reduce stress can be a real gamechanger for creating a home that we can relax in. Which green friends will you be adding to your interior?