houseplant benefits

7 Health Benefits of Indoor Plants

June 15, 2023

Indoor Plants

Health Benefits of Indoor Plants 

We all rely on plants to stay healthy — from the essential oxygen they produce to the nutrient-dense food they provide for humans and other animals. In fact, just being around plants can improve our health and bestow a wealth of benefits on our minds and bodies.

woman holding large houseplantThere is so much growing scientific research showing how our health and wellness is influenced by being connected to the natural world. Yet we spend over 85 percent of our lives indoors, research reveals. So how can we incorporate the beneficial effects of nature into our everyday lives?

Keeping houseplants doesn’t just add beauty to your home — our indoor green friends can actually bolster our wellness in many ways.

Here’s how houseplants can improve your wellness and your life.

Being around plants soothes our nervous system and reduces stress.

Scientists still aren’t quite sure how or why (it may be related to microbes in soil, oxygen production, simply looking at the color green, or all of the above!) but many studies show that being around plants can help calm the systems in our bodies that produce stress. 

In studies, people who spend time with houseplants have less psychological and physiological stress than those who didn’t. These types of studies look at activity in the sympathetic nervous system (the parts of our nervous system that controls our “fight-flight-freeze” response). 

houseplants in bedroom

Being around plants suppresses activity in the sympathetic nervous system and increases the reaction of our parasympathetic nervous system, which activates a “rest and digest” state (including steady breathing, active digestion, and a steady heart rate). 

That means that plants can help lower our heart rate and blood pressure, as a 2015 study showed, among other things. 

Plants increase our positive emotions.

Many studies have also looked at the emotional response to having plants around us. They’ve shown that houseplants increase our feelings of well-being and calm, while decreasing negative emotional states like depression and anxiety

Curious about more of the health benefits of being in and around nature? Read all about how gardening helps us stay healthy, both mentally and physically. 

Plants elevate our mood and make us happier!

Being around plants (and water, by the way) can make us feel happy, confident, calm, and peaceful. Even being in a room with a cut-flower display has been shown to improve our mood.

In fact, having plants in your office can even improve your workday! Believe it or not, having indoor plants and natural light in an office results in workers reporting more satisfaction, attention, and productivity.

woman typing at computer desk near plants

Being around plants improves memory, creativity, and problem solving.

When plants are around, we experience improved attention, creative thinking, and memory. Interacting with plants can also lessen the symptoms and impact of Alzehimers and dementia — although more studies are needed and the greatest impact seems to be in gardening activity.

Just looking at plants helps our bodies heal and recover from illness or surgery — and decreases physical pain!

Having plants around encourages our bodies to recover more quickly and more easily. Studies show that even just having a view of nature through a window can helpfully impact recovery from surgery! 

Houseplants improve respiratory health.

We breathe easier around plants. They clean the air of pollutants and give us fresh oxygen for better respiratory health.

Our homes are full of things that can create air pollution and harm our health, from mold to fumes from cleaning products — not to mention air pollution from outside that enters our homes, like vehicle exhaust and wildfire smoke.

A 1989 NASA study showed that certain houseplants can remove cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene from the air!  And more newer studies are showing that potted plants can also remove benzene and other chemicals from our air.

Plant helps us feel connected and purposeful.

houseplants on the floor

While studies haven’t quite pinned down exactly why plants impact us so greatly, many researchers and thinkers in this field understand what gardeners, farmers, hikers, and nature-lovers know well: being in and around nature activates our sense of belonging, connectedness, and purpose.

Being with nature is our natural way of living — we evolved with the natural world for much, much longer than we’ve spent disconnected from it. We know that when we’re in an environment without windows or natural light, fresh air, or colorful decor, it just feels bad.

Scientists call that “environmental wellness,” and it’s a big factor of not only our mental health but also our physical health (they’re interconnected, after all!).

“Having contact with plants is an intuitive and nonverbal activity that can provide psychological stability and comfort by stimulating four senses in various ways,” the co-authors of one comprehensive study write

Plants remind us of nature’s seasons, encouraging us to stay attentive to our own needs for rest, renewal, and natural cycles. With each blossom and fruiting season, we’re reminded that there is always something hopeful and beautiful coming, if we are patient.

Learn about how to cultivate your own health-boosting indoor garden from a houseplant expert!

health benefits of indoor plants

Growing herbs indoors

Growing Herbs Indoors The Right Way

March 30, 2022

Indoor Plants

Growing Herbs Indoors The Right Way

The best way to infuse your cooking with the flavor of fresh-picked herbs all year round? Grow your own!

If you’re already caring for houseplants, adding an herb container garden to your indoor plant habitat is a breeze.

Growing herbs indoors is simple and straightforward if you follow a few basic tips. And lucky you, we’re here to dish out all the guidelines — to make sure you’re dishing out zesty flavors, whatever the season.

Best Herbs To Grow Indoors

So many types of herbs are wonderful for indoor container growing. Here are our favorites:

  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Lemongrass
  • Parsley
  • Mint (especially spearmint and peppermint)
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme


Tips For Growing Basil Indoors

Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite: basil. If you’ve tried to grow basil indoors, you might have lost a basil plant or two, likely to insufficient sunlight or poor drainage.

This versatile addition to pasta and salads, with its vivid color and delightful fragrance, can be harder to grow inside than outside. It needs a lot of sunlight!

Basil needs a lot of bright light: at least 6 hours a day minimum. Place it in a sunny location or 6 – 10 inches under grow lights for up to 12 hours a day. Be sure to protect basil from cold-snaps and breezes; it’s very sensitive to cold.

Basil likes to be warmer than other herbs (around 70 – 75 degree Fahrenheit is its preference), so you might need to place your indoor basil plant(s) somewhere toastier than your other herbs.

There are dozens of varieties of basil, some spicy, some sweet, some neon green and some-dark hued. That’s one of the joys of growing basil — choose a variety with a color that you love and a scent that fills your kitchen with joy!


How To Grow Herbs Indoors

Just like any of your indoor green friends, there are a few basic categories of care that you need to pay attention to when growing herbs indoors:


Most herbs need a lot of light. That’s why locating indoors herbariums or container herbs in a windowsill is popular. Just be careful of cold, drafty windows in the winter!

A South-facing window or room is ideal. Choose a location that gets sunlight for 8–10 hours a day, ideally, and at least some direct light.

Of course, in certain places, that can be impossible during the winter! If you live in a low light environment, like a forested area or a Northern latitude, you may want to invest in a grow light for your herbs.

Air Circulation

Good air circulation is one of the most overlooked aspects of indoor plant care. They need good airflow, but don’t want to face strong breezes, either.

Place your herbs somewhere that gets good airflow but isn’t drafty. In winter, this can be challenging, when all your windows are closed and insulated. Place a small fan near, but not too near, your herbs if you’re growing them close together or your home is particularly stuffy. If you have a ceiling fan  in a large room with a window, this would also be a good option for sunlight and airflow needs for the plants. Just make sure they’re not getting a direct hit of wind from the fan.


Most herbs enjoy a room that is around 65–70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Be careful if you live in a cold climate and you turn the heat completely off at night or when you go on vacation in the winter.

Some more hardy herbs, like oregano, thyme, and sage, are fine below 45 degrees, but many herbs will suffer — especially basil, which won’t survive for long below 55 degrees.

Keep herbs, like other leafy housemates, away from radiators, heaters, fireplaces, and heat vents. Their foliage can get dried out or even singed from the heat, and the soil will become too dry too quickly.


Just like all other houseplants, indoor herbs need good relative humidity. In winter, soil can dry out quickly, and the inverse can happen in summer. Humidity is closely related to both air temperature and air circulation— so once you set your herbs up in a spot where those two are taken care of, healthy humidity should follow.



Caring For Indoor Herbs


Containers and Planting

Most any moderately, small-sized and well-draining container will be a wonderful home for herbs. You can certainly bring an outdoor container-planted herb plant indoors during the winter! This is a common practice when growing basil because of its sensitivity to cold.

Choose a container for your herbs that is just a bit bigger than your herb’s footprint to allow for room to grow.

A windowsill box or hanging window planter (some of which attach right to the glass, if your window doesn’t have a screen), is a great place for herbs to thrive. They’ll get tons of light, but be careful if the outside air gets very cold. Herbs might be unhappy in the winter if outside air falls below freezing often. For this reason, it’s helpful to have a moveable window box for your herbs if you live in a climate with drastic seasonal changes.

Grouping Herbs

Herbs grow well together; grouping them in the same container can help them stay warm and support good soil drainage. Just be sure that all the herbs you’re planting together require the same watering and light schedule. Research at your local garden store or on your newly purchased plant’s tag or seed package label.

Be aware that some herbs, like basil and parsley, grow quickly and stems can get long and unruly. Luckily, you’ll be using them regularly in your cooking, so pruning won’t take a second thought!

Watering & Drainage

It’s much more common to overwater herbs than under-water them.

A plant mister is an excellent investment for growing indoor herbs. Since their containers can be smaller than other houseplants’, misting herbs rather than watering with a watering can help you avoid accidentally overwatering them.

It’s particularly important that your herbs’ soil is draining well. If soil starts to feel damp all the time, looks greenish, or if bugs start to gather, then repot herbs into a better-draining container. A swarm of gnats around your herbs is a sure sign that you’re either over-watering, or the soil is not draining properly.

Fertilizing Indoor Herbs

You can use a preplant starter, then plant food made for veggies or an all purpose food for your herbs. Fertilize them when they’re growing, during spring and summer. Most herbs are delighted with one feeding every other week, although many can go longer between applications.


Why Grow Indoor Herbs?

Like any other food crop, it can seem like more trouble than it’s worth to grow herbs for culinary purposes. But after you begin, you’ll see how beneficial it is to tend to your own indoor herbs garden.

Growing your own herbs rather than buying them saves money, gives you the opportunity to get creative with new recipes, make fresh teas or broths, and fills your home with the scent of a sunny summer garden.

Plus, the beautiful visual variety of herbs’ foliage is a gift for eyes that ache for greenery in colder winter months. The dark browns of chocolate mint, royal hues of purple basil, and grey-green of sage paint a beautiful plant-scape. Springy chive spikes and texturized mint leaves will begin to give you the same joy as a blooming succulent or a trailing pothos.

Enjoy the smell, view, and flavor!




- True Organic -

Winterizing Your Houseplants

November 15, 2021

Indoor Plants

Winterizing Your Houseplants

While In the Northern Hemisphere, days are short and the light is low. Winter is just around the corner. Just like you, your houseplants need a new daily routine in Winter—one that involves lots of rest, protection from the cold, and maybe even a vacation to a sunnier habitat.

Most houseplants enter dormancy in late Fall through Winter. Growth can slow or even stop, and that can be disconcerting to devoted plant parents. But it’s a crucial time to support your plants as they rest and get ready for their big growing seasons in Spring and Summer.

Let’s take a look at how to keep your houseplants happy through Winter.


Move them into the light

Shorter days mean less sunlight. As the sun spends less time in the sky, move your plants to the sunnier part of the home to maximize their sun exposure.

If you have a sun porch (protected from cold weather, of course), Winter is the time to turn it into an indoor plant habitat.

Pro tip: examine the orientation of your home. Which rooms and windows are facing south or west? These directions will get more light, thanks to the tilt of the Earth, so reorient your plants accordingly.

You can also periodically rotate plants throughout the season to help each and every inch of the plant get sun.


Protect them from cold

Except for the hardiest of indoor plants, houseplants really don’t like to get chilly. Check around your plants’ habitats for potential cold drafts.

Windowsills, while the best place for getting sun rays, can be drafty spots. Before you move a plant to your windowsill, check for gaps in the window frame, especially if you live in an older house or apartment.

Reduce watering

Beware of overwatering in Winter. Your houseplants need much less water in the Winter months, since they are growing less.

For plants that were getting watered once a week through high-growth seasons, consider watering once every two weeks. Succulents and cacti, of course, need even less water than that (some cacti don’t want or need any water at all in winter).

As always, check in on your plants’ soil moisture and texture with a gentle poke into the soil, about one inch deep.  Or, as rare plant expert Elana Gainor suggests, start to get familiar with the weight of your plants so you can pick up a pot and tell if the soil is holding water weight. Learning your plants’ weight will help avoid any intrusive touch into their soil—although most plants will be okay with a gentle soil “poke”.

Pro tip: Set a schedule for Winter watering and write it down. Since more time passes between waterings, it’s easier to forget when you last hydrated  your green friends!

It’s also a good time to check that plants’ pots are draining well. Colder temperatures mean water is evaporating less, and as plants intake less water during their slow-growth season, soil may get waterlogged.

If you have plants that are living in pots without drainage holes, consider repotting them into something more drainage-friendly.

It’s a great time to repot

Winter can be a rough time for avid gardeners who live in cold climates. Months without getting your hands in the soil can feel torturous! An antidote to garden-less Winter blues is repotting your indoor plants.

To determine if a plant needs to be repotted, check:

  • Root system: Are your plant’s roots busting out of their grow pot? If roots are growing through the holes in the bottom of a pot or even cracking the sides of a plastic nursery pot, it’s time to size up.
  • Plant size: Sometimes a plant simply outgrows its habitat. Are your plants’ leaves and stems creeping far beyond the pot that contains them? Go one or two sizes up, so it can grow.
  • Soil: Is the plant’s soil completely dried out, not draining, or clumpy? It may be time to repot simply for new, fresh soil.
  • Growth: Has your plant completely stopped growing? It might be out of space! Remember that in Fall and Winter, some plants intentionally stop growing, so base your judgements on observations of Spring and Summer growth!


If you’re going up in size, choose a pot that is only a bit larger than a plant’s current pot; typically two inches bigger in diameter will do the trick. Too big of a pot, and a plant will attempt to grow more quickly than it has energy and nutrients for.

Pro tip: Not all plants need or want repotting. Many rare and sensitive plants, especially, may just stay put. Extremely viney hanging plants that crawl in every direction may be happy just as they are. If you’re unsure about repotting a houseplant, snap a picture and show it to your local garden store experts for advice.

No need for fertilizing

Be wary of fertilizing your plants during this slow-growing season. When you observe the lack of growth on your leafy friends, you might feel an urge to give your plants a dose of plant food so they keep growing, but resist the temptation!

An excess of some nutrients (especially nitrogen) can cause force growth that is weak and won’t last for long. It’s best to let plants rest in Winter—it’s their natural way.

And hey, while you’re at it…why don’t you go get some Winter rest, too?!



- True Organic -

Caring for Rare Plants with Expert Elana

September 20, 2021

Indoor Plants

Check out our three-part reel series on instagram where Elana discusses tips and tricks for rare plant enthusiasts:

Elana welcomes us through Sage Float Spa’s spectacular front doors for part one of the series.

In part two, Elana and her sweet dog Fable have some tips for feeding your precious houseplants.

Part 3 shows us a quick plant RX for indoor plant parents!

Are you dreaming of tending to gigantic, lush tropical plants that become the envy of all your plant-enthusiast friends? We’ve got some insider tips for you!

An avid adventurer, wellness enthusiast, and rare plant expert, Elana Gainor, PhD, founded Sage Float Spa as a premier Santa Cruz, California, wellness destination. At Sage, guests can relax with saunas, salt-water float tanks, and world-class massages—surrounded by hundreds of rare tropical plants.

TRUE had the joy of sitting down with Elana, to hear about the incredible ways she’s learned to cultivate these beautiful green friends.

TRUE: How did you get into rare plants?

Elana: I had already been taking care of indoor plants for several years when I opened Sage Float Spa in 2016.

I wanted to create a peaceful, distraction-free space with minimalist decor to welcome guests. I knew I was going to have tons of windows and lots of space.

We have a 2700-square foot space with a huge lounge area that’s now completely filled with plants!

TRUE: Why is Sage Float Spa such a perfect environment for all those plants?

Elana: I didn’t realize right away that the spa was going to be the ideal environment for these rares. It turns out that it’s basically a big greenhouse.

First, all the windows have interior sun shades, like car window tinting. The shading filters light and protects the plants from light that could be too harsh.

Next, because of all our spa float tanks, it’s also a very high humidity environment. That’s perfect for these tropical plants that live in that type of natural climate.

TRUE: Who are some of the green friends in the spa?

Elana: If you go into the plant store, we have pretty much one of everything!

We have lots of various kinds of ficuses, every kind of pothos, rare variegated monsteras…One that’s particularly special is the huge variegated monstera, which I’ve had since it was just two small leaves. I have a very sought-after Florida Ghost Philodendron that I love; it puts out tons of fresh white leaves.

I’m always repotting things, giving things away, and purchasing new plants. Right now I’m maxed out!

TRUE: Why are the variegated varieties so rare and special?

Elana: It takes such a special environment to grow them. A lot of them don’t grow naturally in the United States because of the tropical climate they need.

A lot of rare plants cannot be cultivated from seed. That variegated coloring and different patterns you see are genetic mutations, which means they must be grown from cuttings.

And while some can be grown from a cutting easily—just like you do at home—many variegated plants are also super slow growing. It could take a very long time to get anything to grow from a cutting.

There are some that even I have a hard time taking care of, like our variegated alocasia. It keeps dropping leaves!

It wants filtered bright light, so it’s hard to find the right spot for it in the spa.

I do struggle with bugs, mildew, soil fungus, just like anyone else. It’s all about knowing my rare varieties and understanding what they need. When you pay attention, you can start to tell what’s going on.

TRUE: How do you use TRUE plant food products?

Elana: I am already loving TRUE’s Liquid All Purpose Plant Food for my rare plants.

Before I opened it, I thought I’d dilute it even more than recommended—just because the variegated plants are very sensitive, so I’m very careful about giving them anything new.

When I opened it and observed the smell and consistency, I knew it was going to be safe. I diluted the recommended strength and it’s been awesome.

It’s hard to explain how I knew—that’s part of having a green thumb! You just know what’s good and not good for your plants. The TRUE liquid plant food didn’t have a pungent smell and wasn’t too thick or sticky. I could tell TRUE was going to be the perfect strength for my rares.

While I’ve just been using the All Purpose Plant Food, I’m really looking forward to experimenting with Liquid Bloom Boost in the Spring.

TRUE: What makes caring for these plants so challenging?

Elana: It’s their pickiness with their environment.

They need very high humidity, the perfect amount of filtered light, and don’t like to be touched by air. No breezes or bright direct sunlight.

If you think about their natural environment, it makes sense: They’re used to living on dense tropical forest floors. In their natural habitat, they are protected from winds, receive shaded light, and are constantly getting the perfect amount of moisture.

We also pay close attention to watering. We NEVER water our plants in their pots. They get moved completely outside to be watered—in the shade, of course. They never get moved into the sun, because they’ll burn. We let them completely drain before placing them back inside their pots. That way, there’s never any chance for the water to get caught in the bottom of their pots.

Elana’s Top Tips For Rare Plant Care

Filtered light is non-negotiable.

Elana: Most people aren’t going to put UV protection on their windows, but you can use curtains to get the right light. As your plants grow toward the light, turn them.

Pay attention.

Elana: You can tell if a plant is “stressed out” if it’s looking wilty or dropping leaves. If that’s happening, it needs some extra care. If your plants aren’t happy, move them around and see if that improves things.

Humidity is key.

Elana: It’s important not to over- or under-water them, which depends on seasons. You can get humidifiers or spray the plants with a mister (which we do every day at the spa). But some want to be misted all day, like you see in botanical gardens! And you’re probably not going to do that at home.

Get to know your rares!

Elana: It’s a relationship, for sure. They are sensitive!

For example, I actually don’t even put my finger in the soil to feel for moisture. Your top inch or two of soil could be very dry, but the bottom of the soil could be water-logged. Get into the habit of lifting a plant out of the pot and see how heavy it is. A very wet plant is going to be much heavier.

Of course, as a plant grows and gets more roots, it could be heavier. As you develop knowledge of your own plants, you’ll be able to tell what they need.

If you want to get into caring for rare plants, know that it can be a lot of attention and care. I love taking care of plants, so, for me, it’s worth it!

- True Organic -

Springtime Tips For Indoor Plant Parents

May 11, 2021

Indoor Plants

Curious about how to best care for your indoor plants this Spring?

This is the time of year that you’ll want to give them more water, care, and nutrients to reach their full jungle-home potential. Their internal clocks are set to spring into action, so after a slow-growing winter, this is the time that our plant friends amp up their growing potential.

Are you ready for springtime as a plant parent? Here’s a list of things you can do to prepare:


1. Fertilize

Spring is the best time to start fertilizing your plants again. This is when they wake up from their wintery slumber and begin a new season of growth.

It’s important to fertilize your container plants because, unlike plants growing in the ground, house plants are confined to their pots. They can’t stretch their roots to find nutrients around them from rainfall and other natural factors, so you need to be sure to provide what your plants need with a feeding regime.

Depending on your climate and latitude, you’ll probably want to start fertilizing your houseplants around the end of March. If you do start feeding before the prime growing season (when you can see new springtime growth) only add half the recommended amount of fertilizer. After a plant works its way through all the nutrients in its original pot of soil, it needs your help to get more.

As they begin to grow faster, you can fertilize every two or three weeks, depending on the type of plant and how fast they’re growing (and following the instructions on the label).

Using organic fertilizer ensures that your plants are only getting the safest, most ecosystem-supporting supplements, and using an organic plant food will actually help build up essential soil micronutrients, too.

2. Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning isn’t just for those grimy corners behind the fridge. Houseplants love a good tidying-up, too! Cleaning, dusting, and freshening your plants doesn’t just make them look more lovely, it also helps prevent disease and pests, and allows them to photosynthesize to their full potential. Turn up some tunes and use these tips to give you green friends a spring spruce-up:

  • Pick up any dead leaves and blooms from the soil, where they might begin rotting and attract gnats and mold.
  • For some plants, you can mist leaves with water and wipe gently with a dust cloth. Some plants don’t like this—like cacti, succulents, and other moisture-sensitive friends—so be sure to research your plant’s needs.
  • Gently sweep away textured leaves with a paintbrush or soft toothbrush.
  • Spray cacti and other intricate plants with compressed air to clear dust.
  • Shower hardy plants in a sink or bathtub. Be sure to let them drain completely!


3. Give ‘Em a Trim

Spring is an excellent time for a haircut. Not just for you—plant friends need trims, too! Pruning plants helps them use their growing energy better and makes room for new growth.

Start by carefully checking out your plant’s leaves and stems. Are there any that are yellowed, brown, very floppy, or crunchy? Gently and lovingly clip those off where they meet stems.

Use a sharp cutting utensil like pruning shears (or more delicate garden scissors for smaller plants), not craft scissors, which can do more damage than good. And make sure to clean those tools between using on each plant, so as not to spread fungus or pests!

4. Know Your Plants’ Needs

Different varieties of houseplants will need an array of light conditions, watering schedules, and fertilizing frequency. Most of you savvy plant parents know this by now!

It doesn’t have to be too complex, but make sure you look into the type of care your plants need. Just like some plants need more or less sunlight, some need unique types of fertilizer (especially flowering plants with big blooms). Some are super sensitive to heat and direct sunlight, so they may be glad to relocate to a bookshelf rather than the windowsill for the sunny months. They may drop a few leaves as they acclimate to their new location, so don’t fret if you see your plants going through a little transition upon relocation!

Each of your plants has its own special, funky personality! That’s what makes keeping a house full of plants so delightful.



Just like you, spring infuses your plants with a burst of energy. You might be breaking out the sunglasses and planning hikes, and your plants enjoy the changing weather, too. Make sure you’re ready to give them their best life by getting them springtime ready.

Spring has sprung and your houseplants are ready for their close-ups!