Plants in the bedroom: healthy or harmful?

Are plants in the bedroom healthy or harmful?
Are plants in the bedroom healthy or harmful?

The question of whether plants in the bedroom are unhealthy or beneficial to health polarizes the indoor gardening world. While some people rave about a positive indoor climate and better sleep, others react with allergies and respiratory complaints. The myth that plants “breathe away” our oxygen in the bedroom at night also persists. Here’s why, and what you should look out for when caring for your houseplants in this special place. Plus: Five houseplants that have a reputation for being “bedroom-friendly”.

In a nutshell: Do plants make sense in the bedroom?

In principle, there is a lot to be said for putting plants in the bedroom: They produce oxygen, improve the indoor climate, and look beautiful by the way. People who are prone to headaches should be careful, however, because fragrant plants in particular can cause headaches. Suitable for the bedroom are bowstring hemp, peace lily, rubber tree, dragon tree and devil’s ivy.

What’s so different about plants in the bedroom?

Plants are said to improve the indoor environment by releasing oxygen and purifying the air of pollutants. According to the Clean Air Study published in 1989 by the U.S. space agency NASA, plants have been shown to produce oxygen and convert carbon dioxide. Furthermore, they reduce the concentration of benzene, xylene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and many other harmful gases and chemicals in indoor air. For this effect to be real, NASA advises placing at least one houseplant per nine square meters / 100 sq ft of living space. The larger the leaves, the greater the effect. However, the extent to which the study can be transferred to a normal household is disputed. The results were obtained under optimal laboratory conditions.

Nevertheless, there is much to be said for placing houseplants in the bedroom. Especially since they are also visually very appealing and can be integrated well into the room. Nevertheless, small children and people with allergies in particular often react negatively to plants in their immediate sleeping environment. Many also feel disturbed by the scent. It is also often read that while plants produce oxygen during the day, they consume oxygen at night, when we are in the bedroom. In fact, plants stop producing oxygen in the dark and consume it instead. But the amount is so small that a few plants in the bedroom make no noticeable difference.

The only exceptions are thick-leafed plants like the friendship tree or echeveria. They close their stomata, the small pores on the undersides of their leaves, during the day to prevent water from escaping. With the help of this tactic, succulent plants can survive in the desert. Only at night, when the sun has set and temperatures drop, do they release the oxygen. This makes them perfect plants for the bedroom.

How to choose the right plants for the bedroom?

People who are allergic to house dust could be disturbed in their sleep by the dust that settles on plants and other objects in the room. In the bedroom, you should therefore make sure to dust or shower the plants regularly with a damp cloth. This significantly limits the risk of an allergic reaction and thus also promotes healthy sleep.

Moldy potting soil is another factor in houseplants that can be rather harmful to health. Especially freshly after repotting, a whitish film tends to appear on the substrate. In many cases, this is harmless mineral lime deposits, caused for example by lime-rich watering. But it can also be real mold, and this has no place in the bedroom. Therefore, keep the plants in hydroponics or at least add a sufficient drainage layer at the bottom of the respective planters. The choice of potting soil also plays a role, because fine-crumb soil with a high compost and black peat content has a greater tendency to mold than a high-quality, low-compost substrate made of white peat and mineral components.

Fragrant houseplants such as hyacinths or jasmine cause increased allergic reactions and can also cause headaches or even nausea in sensitive people. In general, they do not necessarily promote a peaceful, restful sleep. If you are susceptible to this, it is recommended to use non-scented plants, especially in smaller rooms, and to avoid even supposedly soothing scents such as lavender in the bedroom.

Poisonous houseplants or plants with increased allergenic potential, such as spurge, are also not suitable for every bedroom. Even though many of them have air-filtering properties, you should first test their compatibility before permanently placing the green roommates in your bedroom.

Five houseplants for the bedroom

Succulent bowstring hemp (Sansevieria) is not only easy to care for, but also very beautiful to look at. Its striking foliage adorned almost every home in the 50s and 60s. With the help of its large leaves, it filters pollutants from the air even during the night and regulates humidity. Some people swear that the plant is also an effective remedy for headaches and high blood pressure. However, there is no study that proves this.

The flowering peace lily (Spathiphyllum) is able to absorb formaldehyde and is therefore also considered a good air purifier. However, people suffering from allergies should be careful: The plant is from the aroid family (Araceae) and is poisonous. The elegant growth and the cob-shaped white flowers usually appear from March to September, sometimes even in winter. They give off a light but very pleasant fragrance

The gum tree (Ficus elastica) with its large leaves supposedly even filters harmful vapors from wall paints or floor coverings out of the air. This undemanding classic houseplant can grow up to two meters high and is perfect for a spot on the floor.

When it comes to reducing formaldehyde in rooms, the dragon tree (Dracaena) cannot be missed. Especially beautiful is the Dracaena marginata, a cultivated form that can be a real eye-catcher in your bedroom with its multicolored leaves. The plant gets along with relatively little light and can even be used for darker corners in the bedroom

A shapely climber and foliage ornamental, the devil’s ivy (Epipremnum pinnatum) is particularly popular as an indoor plant. It is also classified by NASA as particularly conducive to indoor climate. The climbing plant takes up little space and is well suited as a hanging basket plant or for greening room dividers. The heart-shaped leaves grow overhanging and spreading, but can also be tied up with a stick. The plant is slightly poisonous, so it should be kept out of reach of children and pets.

Palms for the bedroom?

In principle, indoor palms also have very good properties: The plants are mostly non-toxic and hardly emit allergenic substances. With their large leaves, they have a high assimilation capacity and can significantly increase the humidity in the room. However, this is also countered by a few disadvantages: Their leaves are real dust magnets, and they take up a relatively large amount of space – depending on the type of palm. In addition, most indoor palms are sun worshippers. However, there is not much sunlight in most bedrooms, as the bedrooms are often located on the north or east side of the building.

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