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8 Houseplants That Clean the Air, Make You Happy, and Have Other Magical Powers

By Lindsay Davis Last Updated October 23, 2019 4 min read
Originally posted on Realtor.com

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Houseplants, lovely as they are, can be the bane of a homeowner’s existence. They collect dust, outgrow their containers—and then they die. But if you cultivate the right kinds of greenery, you might just garner more happiness, cleaner air to breathe, and other cool benefits.

“Plants have powerful effects on us, and even views of them can improve mood and speed physical healing,” says Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping. “They can also help increase mental clarity and focus and give us feelings of safety.”

All of that from a regular ol’ ficus, you ask? Yup—and don’t forget that choosing the right houseplants can enhance your decor in an otherwise plain space.

Ready to dig into it? Here are eight houseplants that’ll improve your life, as well as spruce up your home.

1. Lavender

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There’s real science behind keeping this pretty potted green around: Lavender’s fragrance has been shown to ease anxiety and stress.

Chris Lambton, landscaping expert and host of DIY Network’s “Lawn and Order” and “Yard Crashers,” says lavender essential oil is a tried and true method for boosting health and well-being.

“But the oil is expensive—and the plant isn’t, plus lavender survives on very little water,” he says.

2. Dracaena palm

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Photo AGorohov/iStock

We have NASA to thank for the popularity of this air-scrubbing plant. The space agency’s seminal study of 50 plants that remove pollutants from household air placed dracaena on its top 10 list. Keeping this greenery around can help remove such noxious compounds as formaldehyde, benzene, and CO2 from the air your family breathes.

3. Prayer plant

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Photo Bloomscape

Want a plant that’s worry-free and can ease your parental mind? The nontoxic prayer plant is ideal if you have kids or pets, as you won’t be on edge every time your toddler snaps off a leaf or your kitten decides to take a nibble.

4. Geranium

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Geranium oil has long been prized for its ability to treat skin woes such as inflammation and acne. But the scent of the potted version can lend a few health benefits, too. A whiff of geranium can help alleviate insomnia, improve mood, and reduce pain.

And now’s the perfect time to load up on this popular posey—geraniums are widely available for outdoor annual gardens as well as your indoor pots.

5. Meyer lemon

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Not only is a burst of this sunny color a refreshing sight in the morning, but growing a Meyer lemon tree inside may also help boost the immune system and detoxify the body by stimulating the liver.

“A lemon tree also energizes and awakens with its fragrant, scented flowers,” Lambton adds.

6. Peace lily

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Savvy homeowners know that moisture can breed mold—and the air in bathrooms and the kitchen is particularly susceptible. But a potted peace lily can work to reduce indoor mold and mildew by absorbing airborne spores with its leaves. Peace lilies also filter air by removing trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia, according to NASA.

7. Exotic angel plant

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Photo Costa Farms

Wish you had a plant that accommodated you, rather than the other way around? The exotic angel plant is magical this way.

“For instance, if you’re not home during the day to shift your plant out of direct sunlight, opt for a low-light plant like this one—it needs just an hour or two of indirect light a day,” says Lester Poole, a nursery specialist at Lowe’s.

8. English ivy

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Repairing cracked plaster or torn wallpaper is a weekend project you might come to dread. You could try and hide these eyesores with a piece of art or a folding screen, but a creeper plant can do the same thing for a lot less money.

“English ivy is a versatile plant that can be showcased indoors and out, and comes in many patterns and leaf shapes,” Poole says.

But the best part is its clinging charm: It can hook onto almost any surface, hiding that wall flaw while also brightening your decor.