A lot of people, particularly men, don't have any houseplants. Men might believe that people will think they are effeminate if they have plants, or other people might just be too lazy to go out and buy some plants. The fact is, if you don't have houseplants, you are missing out on some great benefits, both aesthetic and physiological!
A plant is a natural complement to an animal since the two types of creatures live off of each other. An animal uses respiration to get oxygen to its cells and remove carbon dioxide as waste. A plant, on the other hand, needs carbon dioxide to perform photosynthesis and expels pure oxygen as waste. This creates a life cycle of oxygen and carbon dioxide between animals and humans.
What does this have to do with having a houseplant you ask? Most homes and apartments are poorly ventilated. That results in stagnating air, and with nothing to replace the oxygen that you breathe, the level of oxygen is going to drop over time. Therefore, by having houseplants you are ensuring that there is always a healthy supply of oxygen in your home, whether you open the windows or not.
There is also the environmental impact. With more and more trees being cut down, you might feel redeemed by knowing that your houseplants compensate for the air that you breathe on a day-to-day basis. Some scientists claim that a single human requires the oxygen output of a tree to survive. You can definitely create this degree of output by having houseplants.
Whether you know it or not, your home is also collects toxic gases produced by various household chemicals, carpeting, paint, etc. The buildup of these gases contributes to a condition known as "sick building syndrome", where occupants experience uncomfortable symptoms of nausea, headaches, coughing, and even fever. A study conducted by Dr. Wolverton at NASA showed that many plants have the ability to remove harmful gases such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and carbon monoxide from the air. By even having one or two plants, you can clean your air of these harmful compounds.
According to the study, the following plants are well suited for removal of benzene: Chinese evergreens, chrysanthemums, dragon trees, English ivy, gerbera daisies, janet craig dracaena, peace lilies, and striped dracaena. Formaldehyde is best removed by bamboo palms, corn stalk plants, devil's ivy, ficus trees, philodendrons, snake plants, and spider plants. Trichloroethylene is best removed by dragon trees, gerbera daisies, peace lilies, potted flowering mums, and ribbon plants.
The study was conducted by placing each type of plant in a sealed Plexiglas container with numerous toxic gases inside. After several days, the concentration of the gases was measured again, suggesting that certain plants are better at removing airborne toxins than others. It should also be noted that the study only focused on a small number of common household plants, therefore it is likely that others have the same ability.
Studies recommend that an 1800 square foot house should have somewhere between 10-15 plants throughout in order to filter the air and replace oxygen. What plants you get is up to you, but the fact is that they are very beneficial. When placing plants, consider their light requirements (plants that need more light should be near windows or rooms where the light is turned on frequently). Most plants are very cheap ($1-10 on average) and can be bought at a local home improvement or gardening store. In my experience, the pot to put the plant in is usually more expensive than the plant itself. It is not necessary to buy a mature plant when you can get a small plant cheaper since they will usually grow very fast under proper lighting.
Plants are also aesthetically appealing and add to the atmosphere in any room. Much like a painting or sculpture, a plant can display interesting geometry and patterns on its leaves. A unique plant can easily serve as a conversational piece, "Wow Jim, that is quite a cactus!"
Some people think plants are hard to keep alive, but in most cases it is incredibly easy to make a plant thrive indoors. All you have to do is keep the soil moist and give it some occasional light. It doesn't require any attention like an animal and will live indefinitely.
In conclusion, I hope you have found this article educational. Nobody really needs houseplants to survive, but they clearly have a number of benefits.