Hand-picked Indoor Plants for Anxiety & Stress Relief

by Dmitri Kara | Last Updated: March 24, 2019

The following lists of anti-anxiety plants help you recover from sickness faster, prevent you from getting sick in the first place, and above all, make you happy, but benefits don’t end here!

In the past, when I used to get overwhelmed by anxiety, I’d unwind by taking a long walk in a park. The trees were towering, the wind rustled through the branches, and my stress would just trickle away. I’m a very visual person and all that growing green would immediately soothe me.

This is why I fill my house with indoor plants!

Here at CompleteHomeSpa.com, we love hot tubs, home saunas, and feature-rich massage chairs, but all we really want is an anxiety-free home to relax, have a good night’s sleep, and a feeling of true well-being, and guess what? Plants can help with anxiety!

Philip and Jane have a large garden, so they get to potter around on real grass and touch actual trees. Me? I live high in a tower block in a concrete jungle – no grounding for me! But no matter – I got creative and brought the outdoors, indoors, so I added plants to my interior to fight tension and worried thoughts.

How Indoor Plants Improve Your Health

A study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology stated that active interaction with plants significantly improved heart rate and blood pressure. The study subjects felt more soothed and comfortable.

Plants Make People Happy

Clas Bergvall, an ethnologist from the Umeå University in Sweden, had a wife who was very passionate about her plants. Because of her, Clas dedicated his doctoral dissertation to the effects of plants on people.

His study revealed that plants make people more self-reflective and contemplative. They remind people of the passing of time and help them stay in tune with their surroundings.

Houseplants Help With Healing

A research study at Kansas State University advocates using potted plants as a “noninvasive, inexpensive, and effective complementary medicine for surgical patients.”

It concludes that hospitals should use greenery for improved healing environments of convalescent patients.

And also, did you know that horticulture therapy is a real thing?

Houseplants Improve Air Quality

According to the American Lung Association, indoor air can be extremely polluted – even more polluted than the air outside. The culprits are mold, asbestos, benzene, and carbon monoxide, just to name a few.

Symptoms that your indoor air is polluted include asthma, dry eyes, or persistent coughs or headaches. Houseplants, however, are natural air purifiers and can decrease airborne mold by as much as 60%.

Houseplants Act As Instant Mood Boosters

Confirmed by a study by Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D!

When you wake up with a beautiful flower bouquet on your nightstand, you will feel happier, friendlier, and calmer throughout the rest of the day. If you can’t grow yourself, flower arrangement delivery will do the job. With their colorful appearance and sweet scent, flowers promote positive emotions because they remind us of joyful life moments. 

Flowers may even benefit from your work productivity by making you more enthusiastic and mindful.

How To Choose Indoor Plants & Fight Anxiety?

If you already suffer from anxiety, taking care of your new houseplants should not be an additional source of worry. The whole point of this exercise is to help you manage your stress, anxiety, and maybe even depression.

Because of this, you can’t choose houseplants just because they’re pretty.

Stick to plants that are:

The Best Plants For Stress & Anxiety

I’ve found no plant to be ugly, so I don’t really find aesthetics to be an issue. What might be more of an issue is if you have a leaf-munching pet or small child at home. Therefore, I’ve added toxicity information for each plant below.

I’ve also included care instructions because I still vividly remember almost killing my grandmother’s succulents. I thought they looked thirsty every time I checked on them. The owner of the gardening shop I frequented scolded me and I’ve built up my knowledge on plant care since then.

Aloe Vera & Night-time Oxygen

What Aloe Vera is:

The aloe vera is a fleshy short-stemmed succulent.

This plant played a memorable role in my childhood as my auntie used it on her bald spots, and my grandma used it on burns.

How Aloe Vera works:

One interesting thing about the aloe is that it is a CAM plant. CAM stands for Crassulacean acid metabolism. It means that it conserves energy during the day and thus releases oxygen at night instead.

On the aesthetic end, the aloe vera is small and can easily live on a work desk or a coffee table. Put it in a cute pot with white pebbles and it will brighten up any room.

As an added bonus, Aloe Vera plants can filter pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde from your home.

Aloe Vera Care Instructions

Aloe vera is one of my favorite plants because it is very low-maintenance and can tolerate neglect.

Aloe Vera Toxicity

If (accidentally) eaten in sizeable amounts, it will cause diarrhea or abdominal cramps.

Areca Palm – A Natural Humidifier

What Areca Palm is:

The Areca Palm is an ornamental plant native to Madagascar and India. It’s also called a “butterfly palm” because of the way its multiple stems and leaves arch gracefully. In the summer, it produces pretty yellow flowers.

How Areca Palm works:

The Areca Palm is a natural humidifier. A plant that’s around 6 feet in height can transpire (give off water vapor from its leaves) 1 liter of water every day.

The name “butterfly palm” is also very appropriate. The plant itself is very pleasing to the eye with its light green coloring and the graceful way the palm fronds would stir with a slight breeze. The aesthetic is very pleasing and soothing.

It also cleans indoor air. It can filter formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene from your home.

Areca Palm Care Instructions:

This plant can grow up to 6 or 7 feet and can be kept indoors for up to 10 years, their full lifespan.

Bonsai & Artful Beauty

What Bonsai is:

A Bonsai is an artfully pruned and trained plant grown in shallow containers. The beauty of the Bonsai lies in how it is a miniature replica of a full-grown tree in nature.

You can buy a ready-made Bonsai tree from a shop, or you can buy a pre-Bonsai and learn how to cultivate it yourself.

How Bonsai works:

If you’ve ever seen an excellent specimen of a Bonsai tree, this needs no explanation. Looking at an impeccably trained and pruned Bonsai is very meditative, similar to when viewing art. One can appreciate the fissures and flowing lines of its trunk and admire its miniature branches and leaves.

Apart from the aesthetic of the Bonsai, it is also very calming to prune and maintain. And if you do pick up on a new hobby, you will have the chance to meet new and like-minded people.

Here’s a little preview of how to make a Bonsai tree from a starter kit.

Bonsai Care Instructions

Bonsai Toxicity:

Upon consumption, Bonsai plants can be extremely toxic, so make sure none of that is consumed by either kids or pets.

Fiddle-Leaf Fig & Energy

What Fiddle-Leaf Fig is:

The Fiddle-Leaf Fig is a very interesting (and rather intimidating) plant. It can grow as a regular tree, but a variety can also start out as an epiphyte that grows on top of another tree. As it matures, it sends roots all around the tree until it has it slowly enveloped and strangled.

Despite this rather gruesome back story, Fiddle-Leaf Fig trees are currently the “it” plant right now. It’s the Ariana Grande or Taylor Swift of houseplants. When I was with my aunt last month, all she could talk about was finding fig trees for her home.

How Fiddle-Leaf Fig works:

There’s obviously something special about the Fiddle-Leaf Fig tree that has gardening enthusiasts getting their hands into one (or several). In fact, I’ll share with you the first moment I saw a Fiddle-Leaf Fig tree in somebody’s home and I suddenly decided I NEEDED it in my life.

That’s right. I was doing Yoga Camp with YouTuber Adrienne and my eyes fell on this beautiful houseplant. If you play the video below, the plant immediately shows up right behind Adrienne. (I was hesitating whether to just pop in a photo but decided to put in the whole video in case I can sucker you into a healthy bout of Yoga Camp. It’s fun and easy, I swear! Very appropriate too since we’re talking about wellness and relieving stress.)

If you played the video, you’ll see that the Fiddle-Leaf Fig tree has large and bright waxy green leaves that look brimming with health and energy. This plant really has a way of brightening up a room.

You also know when this plant is happy. Its leaves perk up towards the sun and it just grows to humongous proportions.

Fiddle-Leaf Fig Care Instructions:

Fortunately, this plant is tough and can adapt easily to most living conditions.

Golden Pothos & Tenacity

What Golden Pothos is:

The Golden Pothos is a rather common creeper plant, and you might have seen it in different settings. It’s also called the devil’s vine because it is nearly impossible to kill and can keep its green coloring even with very little light.

How Golden Pothos works:

If taking care of plants stresses you out then there is only one plant for you, and it’s the Golden Pothos. Even if you were cursed with the black thumbs, this hardy vine will still thrive.

This plant grows fast and has a vibrant green color that definitely gives a refreshing splash of color and life to your indoor space. If you live near busy streets, it will also absorb and clean your indoor air of formaldehyde from car exhaust fumes.

Additionally, the Golden Pothos is known as a cash plant or money plant in Feng Shui. It supports positive energy flows and is a bringer of good luck and fortune.

Golden Photos Care Instructions:

Golden Pothos Toxicity:

When ingested, this plant is toxic to cats, dogs, and children. It will make them sick, but not fatally.

Jasmine & Health

What Jasmine is:

The Jasmine is a shrub with small white and fragrant flowers. The blooms grow in clusters with a minimum of three flowers each. In some countries, the flowers are threaded into garlands and sold. Jasmine tea is also a staple in China.

How Jasmine works:

Growing up in the suburbs, we used to have bushes and bushes of Jasmine. When nighttime came, without fail, the Jasmine flowers would start to send out their sweet fragrance. It smelled so heavenly that it would just put you in a calm and blissful state of mind.

Years later, I would stumble upon research that discovered how it is as “calming as valium”. The researchers found that it has the same calming properties but minus the side effects. Brain scans showed that inhaling the fragrance from Jasmine boosted GABA, a chemical on nerve cells that improves mood, promotes rest, and reduces anxiety.

Jasmine Care Instructions

It is said that Jasmine will thrive within 4 hours of direct sunlight.

Chamomile & Soothing Calm

What Chamomile is:

The Chamomile plant is an herb with white and yellow daisy-like flowers.

Even if you live under a rock, you can’t know the humble Chamomile. I can’t count the number of soaps where a distressed lead gets offered some Chamomile tea to calm her nerves.

How Chamomile works:

First off, the foliage of the Chamomile plant is dazzling. Reminiscent of daisies and little sunflowers, they add a dollop of cheer and sunshine to any room.

Second, their sweet scent is very calming and pleasant. The flowers themselves are herbaceous and apple-like. The tea, in the meantime, is relaxing for the senses.

Speaking of tea, you can use your plant to make Chamomile tea which has so many benefits. It can ease nerves, soothe an upset stomach, and even help you sleep.

Chamomile Care Instructions:

It’s easy to take care of a Chamomile plant indoors.

Tillandsia & Lightness of Feeling

plants for anxiety

What Tillandsia is

A Tillandsia is an air plant. It clings to anything from the bark of trees to telephone wires. They’re not parasitic though, which is good news. In trendy homes, you will see Tillandsias attached to artsy driftwood, pretty seashells, or inside terraria.

terrarium with airplants

A terrarium with some air plants. Photo Credit: Etsy

How Tillandsia works

A Tillandsia is a beautiful addition to any home. Find any pretty pin on Pinterest about indoor plants, and you will more likely see an air plant.

Suspended in the air or clinging onto beautiful surfaces, air plants give a feeling of freedom and lightness. And because of their diverse varieties, each plant feels full of personality. It’s almost like a pet, but hardier and more low-maintenance.

This air plant shares the aloe vera’s unique CAM trait. Because it keeps its stomata closed during the daytime heat, it releases oxygen and even moisture during nighttime. This makes them perfect indoor houseplants, especially for the bedroom.

Tillandsia Care Instructions

Good news! As expected of epiphytes, air plants are very hardy and don’t need as much attention as other houseplants.

Holy Basil for Clarity

plants for anxiety

What Holy Basil is:

Holy Basil or Tulsi is not the basil you use for your pesto or your breakfast burrito. The basil we often use for cooking has deep green leaves with round edges. Holy Basil, on the other hand, has gray-green leaves with ridged edges.

It is a sacred plant for Hindus and is often planted in the central courtyard of Hindu houses or near Hanuman temples.

How Holy Basil works:

While regular basil has a spicy aroma, Holy Basil has a sweet and refreshing fragrance that is pleasing to the senses. As such, you can dry the leaves and make them into pot-pourri.

When it blooms, Tulsi has small beautiful lavender flowers.

In Ayurvedic medicine, we know this plant for reducing stress and promoting mental clarity and longevity. A known adaptogen (a substance that helps the body cope with stress), it can help balance and reduce the effects of stress on the body.

Holy Basil is edible. You can chew 10-12 leaves twice a day or drink Tulsi leaves on a regular basis.

Holy Basil Care Instructions

Succulents & Fresher Air

plants for anxiety

What Succulents are:

Succulent plants are plants that have fleshy and thickened parts. They store water in their leaves and stems. The aloe and the cactus are two examples of succulents.

How Succulents work:

Similar to several of the plants on our list, succulents are very easy to take care of. You can have as many succulent plants indoors and not have to worry too much about fussy plant care.

The amazing variety — both in number and genus — of succulents make them a collector’s dream. Even if you only start out with just one plant, you will ultimately find yourself planting more and more. The joy of collecting and growing living things is beneficial to your mental health.

A bonus is that succulents are also natural air purifiers. They can remove volatile organic compounds from the air and make your indoor air fresher. They also release moisture, thus improving the humidity in your home.

Succulents Care Instructions:

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Plants & Anxiety – Remarks

There are many houseplants that can do well indoors and require only minimal care. The boost these green living things provide to your mental health makes it worthwhile to bring them into your home. Use it to make a kitchen more relaxing, or as a combo to make a spa kitchen, also make your time in the bathroom less tense and rigid, maybe compliment a relaxing bedroom, or generally, make your home more homey!

Author: Dmitri Kara

Started as a jack of all trades back in early 2012, Dmitri Kara is a recognized expert in a wide range of domestic and commercial trades. Dmitri Kara has appeared for reputable outlets such as Today.com, Metro.News, Telegraph.co.uk, ReadersDigest.com, Quote.com, Reviews.com, Plus.net, IkeaHackers.net, and many more. You can get in touch at https://twitter.com/@dmitrikara.