It’s a long-held belief that talking to your houseplants can help them to thrive. But, did you know that they in-turn can return the favor, even though you may refuse to carry on a conversation with your coleus?

The benefit of filling your home or office with houseplants isn’t myth. Research continues to demonstrate the ability of plants to improve the quality of indoor air.

The energy crunch of the 1970’s led to changes in building technology. Homes and office buildings are insulated and sealed to increase energy efficiency. The downside of lower heating and cooling costs, is the concern about indoor air pollution. The tightening of buildings means less fresh air is allowed into the structure.

Many offices re-circulate air, with no opportunity for opening windows to bring in a fresh breeze. The air quickly becomes stale. Humans exhale carbon dioxide, contributing to the worsening air quality. Plants, giving off oxygen, do just the opposite. Architects and building designers are beginning to include plants as important parts in the design of new buildings, often circulating air through plant-filled atriums.

Besides giving off oxygen, some plants have even proven their ability to remove harmful chemicals and pollutants from the air. Among them, the common “spider” plant was proven by NASA scientists to be able to absorb and remove formaldehyde – a common chemical used in many building products – from the air.

During the last 20 years, more than 40 plants have tested successfully in removing various indoor air polluting chemicals.

Experts recommend using as many plants as practical in the home and office, mixing different varieties, since it’s not certain which combinations of plants work best together. The list of house plants suggested by researchers include spider plants, dracaenas, palm, ficus, Chinese evergreen, golden pothos and peace lilly.

There is no such thing as a “bad” choice when selecting house plants – some are better than others at improving the air we breathe – but all plants, due to their natural beauty, will help improve the morale in your home or office.

Houseplants make great houseguests too. They don’t eat or drink much, won’t track mud in from outdoors, and never dump over the garbage. Have you ever heard of a dog’s tooth violet having an “accident” on the living room carpeting?

So, take a deep breath of fresh air, thank your thalia and tell your yuca plant that you love him.