Greening up with plants: 5 ways to bring the outdoors in

The amazing benefits (health and style!) of decorating with plants
By Avital Norman Nathman  Published on 09/28/2017 at 9:00 AM EDT
Jordan Whitt/Unsplash

There’s something magical about plants. Just being around them can make you feel happier—and it’s not just in your head. Studies show that having plants in your home has amazing benefits: They help purify the air you breathe, help you feel less sick, boost your mood, and can even help you focus and concentrate better. Plus, they give you something to focus on and nurture. In fact, NASA suggests having one plant per 100 square feet.

So if you haven’t already turned your home into a greenhouse, here are a few ways to help bring the outside in and make those plants work for you!


Your kitchen is one of the easiest rooms in the house to start greening up. Did you know that you can start growing your own mini indoor garden from food scraps, without buying a single seed?  You can harvest scraps from ginger, carrots, avocados, lettuce, onions and more. Or start with something easier: herbs.

Caring for basil, mint, oregano and other herbs is fairly easy, and can actually help reduce stress and anxiety. You don’t even need to start from seeds. Many grocery stores sell potted herbs right in the produce section, allowing you to pick up a container of thyme while restocking your cereal cabinet. Once home, place them on your window sill or on a counter (steer clear of having them near your oven!). Make sure not to over/under water them and you’ll soon have fresh herbs to snip into your stews, soups, and salads, as well as beautiful plants to accessorize your kitchen with.

Pro tip: Get an aloe plant—the leaves can aid in healing, in case your kitchen experiments occasionally end in a burnt finger or two.

Living Room

The wonderful aspect to bringing the outside into your living room is that you can truly go as wild as you want. Starting small and cautious? Succulents are beautiful and require very little tending but can help you create your own little desert escape. Plus, they’re a great starter plant for smaller apartments and homes. 

Ready to go bigger? How about a tree? Potted trees like Fiddle Leaf Figs, Arbequina olive, and citrus trees (Meyer lemon or clementine trees will bring both brightness and sweetness into your life!) are all great options for that corner space next to the couches that you’re not sure what to do with. While they might require a smidge more attention, they’ll take up less space than an armchair or side table. 

Pro tip: If you have pets or small children at home, always double check to make sure you’re not bringing in a plant that could be toxic if accidentally ingested.

Dining Room

Fresh cut flowers on the dining room table are beautiful, but they don’t last long, and shed petals that you need to clean up. A small bonsai can provide just as much beauty and interest as a bouquet of plants and is more sustainable. Plus, cultivating them can become a meditative practice and can help lower your stress levels.

Pro tip: While caring for a bonsai isn’t super difficult, make sure to read up on proper water techniques. When your plant is dry to the touch, submerge the entire thing in a bucket of water until all the air bubbles have risen to the top. That means you’ve quenched its thirst!


Placing some plants in your bedroom (or the kid’s room or the guest room) has a variety of benefits, like reducing stress and anxiety. Lavender plants are perfect for the bedroom. Not only is this herb easy to care for, but the plant itself it lovely,  with purple heads providing a fabulous pop of color against the earthy green of the stems. In addition to the myriad of other health benefits, lavender has been shown to help with sleep, so it makes sense to have this powerful plant right on your bedside table.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try making a living headboard in an attempt to truly bring more green into your life. You can use anything from ivy (not the poisoned kind!) or a slim box garden to tiny plants, air plants, or herbs in mason jars to decorate the space above your bed. Imagine waking up with all that lushness surrounding you? If you’re feeling timid, why not start out by creating one with cloth flowers first?

Pro tip: Decorate your bedroom with indoor potted palms to get some of the best health benefits plants have to offer. Plants like the Bamboo Palm, Areca Palm, or Lady Palm are not only easy on the eyes, but they help purify the air in your room and clear it of toxins!

Don’t have a green thumb?

Is even the prospect of keeping a cactus alive frightening you? Start as simple as possible. It won’t provide the same benefits, but it might help prepare you for the real deal. How about some fabulous plant-inspired wall paper or decoration? Maybe get some plastic plants and see how that goes. We promise you won’t kill them! And, they’ll be your stepping stone to bringing some real green from outdoors in soon. 

Whatever you end up doing, know that bringing some green inside will go a long way toward providing you and your family with a happier, healthier life!

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