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Garden Myth: You Have to Remove Houseplants From the Bedroom at Night


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!

Other humans sharing your room use up far more oxygen than a plant possibly could!

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!

The Exception

You’ll sleep better if you banish highly performed plants from your bedroom at night.

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.20161008a

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

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