Houseplant shrivelled and dropping leaves

Mental health: having dying houseplants in your home negatively impacts your wellbeing, a new study says

Posted by for Plants

A new study has revealed how the health of your plants can impact the benefits they provide.

The benefits of bringing plants into our homes have been well-documented. Besides looking great, studies have shown that indoor plants have the potential to boost your productivity and decrease levels of stress and anxiety – and the process of looking after them can be an excellent form of self-care.

That’s why so many of us found ourselves adding to our plant collections during the pandemic – at a time when the world felt scary and unpredictable, spending time tending to plants and watching them grow felt like the perfect antidote.

But according to a new study, bringing a few plants into your home may not always provide the wellbeing benefits you might expect from our leafy friends.

The research, conducted by the University Of Reading and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), found that the health of the plants in our homes can determine the benefits we get from them.

In fact, the study found that while lush, leafy plants with dense canopies may offer the mental health benefits typically associated with indoor plants, being around plants that are shrivelled and dying can actually be worse for your wellbeing than having no plants in your home at all.   

As such, the researchers concluded that dead and dying plants should be removed from homes and offices to avoid this negative impact.  

A woman looking after plants at home
The study found that lush, green plants are the best at boosting wellbeing.

“Our research has shown that when choosing houseplants appearance is important,” said Jenny Berger, a built environment PhD researcher at the University of Reading and lead author of the study.

“Plants which people find attractive and interesting are likely to give us the biggest wellbeing boost, and green, lush plants will bring a healthy feeling to the indoor environment.”

Of course, the key to being surrounded by healthy plants is to make sure you’re taking good care of them – and identifying any problems they might be facing before it’s too late. Indeed, many shrivelled or wilted plants can still be nursed back to health – you just need to know what you’re doing. 

New to plant parenthood? Check out Stylist’s guide to buying, styling and caring for plants to get started.

You can find out more about the most common houseplant problems by checking out our range of plant care content, too. 

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Getty

Share this article

Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.