ISSUE 4  |  Herbs and Potions

The Big Debate: Plants in the Bedroom?

January 29, 2014 2:30 PM

BY Christine Chang Hanway

At one of our recent editorial meetings, a discussion about plants in the bedroom revealed that Gardenista and Remodelista’s editors are in two diametrically opposed camps: Love them or hate them.

Why the debate? Photosynthesis adds oxygen and purifies the air (which is why Michelle has plants in every room… well, also she’s just a plant nut). But because plants require light to photosynthesize, at night the process apparently reverses and plants may respire as humans do, emitting carbon dioxide (this is the part that Sarah finds creepy).

How to get to the bottom of this? I asked an expert: my 15-year old son who happens to be a bit of a plant biology aficionado (go figure).

Me: Is it true that plants emit oxygen in the day and carbon dioxide at night?

Son: You know about photosynthesis and respiration, right? Well, plants respire at a slower rate than they photosynthesize, so there is actually a net gain of a few molecules of oxygen per cycle.

Me: So you think it’s healthy to sleep with plants at night?

Son (suspicions aroused): Why are you asking me these questions? Is this your way of testing me for my biology exam? I thought you were working.

So, for readers avoiding a family domestic, I have decided that it comes down to personal preference. What’s yours? Let us know in the comments below.

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Above: I can’t see the harm in having a few slow-growing succulents, given their Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), which allows them to take in carbon dioxide during the night and store it to use for photosynthesis the next day. Photograph via Old Brand New Blog.

How about an indoor lemon tree in the bedroom? See DIY: Potted Indoor Citrus Trees.

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Above: Alexa likes the way these plants on the windowsill add cheer to a children’s bedroom in a summer house in Sí¶derfors, Sweden. For more windowsill plants, see DIY: Grow Lily of the Valley on a Windowsill.

What plants look good in a bedroom? See Indoor Lemon Tree (I’ll Take Two).

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Above: For some, one plant in the bedroom is enough; they draw the line at more. What do you think–can you have too many? Photograph via Fresh Home

Whatever side of the debate you favor, we all agree that plants in the rest of the house can only be a good thing. See 239 images of Plants as Decor in our Photo Gallery.

N.B.: This is an update of a post published January 7, 2013.