Horticultural myths die hard. Here’s one I thought was long dead… until someone asked me about it just the other day. This myth claims you must remove houseplants from your bedroom at night or risk asphyxiation. This is pure nonsense, of course, but many people still believe it.
The grain of truth behind the myth is that plant do use oxygen at night when they respire… and give off carbon dioxide instead. But not much. And during the day they produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. However, they actually produce much more oxygen during the day than they use at night. The end result is that a room where you keep living plants will actually be more highly oxygenated than a room that doesn’t contain any.
Do note, though, that is on a very, very small scale. A single plant is not going to make a huge difference in oxygenating the room. However, when you add up all the plants around the world that produce oxygen, the effect is huge. Humans couldn’t live on Earth without plants; they are by far the planet’s most important source of oxygen.
And that’s not all! Plants also filter the air, removing pollutants and dust, plus they humidify the air too, another plus for your health.
So feel free to grow plants in your bedroom and in fact throughout your home. You’ll sleep better and feel better… and your room will look nicer too!
Keep the Plants, Boot Out Your Roommate!
Actually, it’s not plants that reduce the oxygen in a bedroom, but animals. They too absorb oxygen, but unlike plants, do so both day and night and never give it back. To gain maximum oxygenation, it would seem logical to kick out the cat, the dog and even your husband or wife at night.
Of course, I’m only joking here: you can share your room with whomever you want: there is plenty of oxygen in the average bedroom for a whole human family, a dozen cats, 3 or 4 Great Danes and then some! But you have to admit that animals do reduce the oxygen content of the room.
But Don’t Hospitals Remove Plants from Rooms at Night?
They certainly used to! But that was before we understood more about how plants actually function. Nowadays hospital employees are generally aware of the true situation. Still, you may run across hospital employees who still cling to old superstitions. If ever one tries to remove plants from your room, take a few minutes to explain why it isn’t necessary.
Besides, if hospitals were being logical and felt their patients needed a maximum amount of oxygen at night, it would be other patients they’d banish from the room, not plants!
There is nevertheless one exception to the rule that plants can remain in the bedroom at night: those with intensely fragrant flowers (hyacinths, jasmines, citrus, some narcissus, etc.) sometimes disturb people’s sleep. It’s best to banish such plants from the bedroom while they are in bloom.