OK For Bedrooms: 6 Indoor Plants That Release Oxygen At Night

Adding some greenery to your indoor living space is generally known to increase our mood and well-being. But what about plants in your bedroom? Plants release CO2 at night, isn’t that bad for your sleep?

Among the best indoor plants for bedrooms are those with a Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM); CAM photosynthetic plants release oxygen and take in carbon dioxide at night. Common bedroom plants are:

  • Snake Plants
  • Hoya
  • Aloe
  • Orchids
  • Kalanchoe
  • Schlumbergera

Overall, plants in your bedroom are perfectly safe. Plus, not all plants release CO2 at night. I’ve summed up all you need to know about plants in bedrooms in this post and will present six plant types that work very well as bedroom plants.

Is It OK to Sleep With Plants in Your Bedroom?

It is perfectly safe and OK to have plants in your bedroom. Generally, the effects of plants are subtle. This doesn’t mean, they make no difference but plants in your bedroom will not have any fatal consequences for your sleep at all.

Is it good to sleep with plants in your room? Well, that is something everyone has to decide for themselves.

You might try out to have plants in your bedroom and then realize you find it distracting. Or, you find it the most relaxing ever and want to have plants right next to you when you fall asleep. If bedroom plants are good for you is also an individual choice.

Do Plants Improve Sleep Quality?

According to many scientific studies, having plants indoors can increase our mental and physiological well-being and reduce stress. The studies have shown that spending only 15min with plants in a room already positively affected the mood of the participants. Over longer periods, plants can significantly reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, as stated in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2022 Jun; 19(12): 7454).

Reading Recommendation: Plants do make a difference in our well-being. Read more about what benefits houseplants have on our mental and physiological health through this link.

Given these beneficial calming effects of plants, having plants in your bedroom can increase your sleep quality. I think the calming effect of having a green plant in your bedroom helps a lot to relax when going to bed. Personally, I’ve had plants in my bedroom for years and wouldn’t change it.

You can further increase the calming effect by making plant care a daily routine before going to bed. Have a quick check on your plants every night before going to bed, look at their leaves, check their soil, or mist them. That works kind of like a meditation practice to calm your mind before going to bed.

What can be important, especially if you want to have a lot of plants in your bedroom, is to look out for plants that release oxygen at nighttime. That’s what we’ll get into next in this post.

Plants Good For Your Bedroom Should Release Oxygen At Night

Many of the articles about suitable bedroom plants mention that indoor plants’ air-purifying capacities are important for indoor air quality and hence for the bedroom as well. This is mainly due to a 1989 NASA study. NASA was the first one to experiment with plants’ air filter capacities and found indoor plants to make a big difference in indoor air quality.

Though more recent scientific studies come to different conclusions and suggest that the NASA studies were carried out under artificial circumstances. The NASA plants were put in hermetically sealed boxes for their experiments. In real life, indoor plants are not in sealed containers but rather in an environment with frequent air exchanges.

These exchanges make it impossible for the limited capacities of our indoor plants to really make a difference in indoor air quality.

Hence, while many plants certainly are specialists at cleaning toxins out of our air, they do not make a significant difference in indoor air quality. Still, having some air-purifying experts at home is not bad to have, and as scientists keep investigating the effect of plants on air quality, scientific facts might change again in the future.

Want to know more about the NASA study and what more recent studies say about our indoor air quality? Click through to my post in this link on how many houseplants you’d need for clean air!

So, if it’s not the air filtering qualities, what else do we need to look out for in bedroom plants? This is where the term Crassulean Acid Metabolism comes into play.

Crassulean Acid Metabolism (CAM): The Pathway For Plants to Produce Oxygen at Night

The main factor to watch out for when choosing plants for your bedroom is whether they release oxygen instead of carbon dioxide (CO2) at night.

We produce carbon dioxide through our breath and we need oxygen. Having more oxygen in your bedroom can increase your quality of sleep. Plants that produce oxygen at night are therefore favorable for bedrooms.

Now, how does CAM or also CAM photosynthesis work? According to biologists, CAM plants are plants that occupy arid or local topologically dry habitats:

“The CAM species occupy arid or locally dry niches. These include arid desert-type habitats and physiologically dry habitats such as encountered by epiphytes and plants existing in very rocky or shallow soils.”

ECOLSTUD, vol 30. Springer, Berlin, pp 5-28, 1978

These arid plants face hot and sunny days for the most part of their lives. Plants exchange gases and control their evaporation by opening and closing their stomata, the plant cells on the lower surface of their leaves. In these hot climates, plants have evolved to avoid opening their stomata during the daytime because they would lose too much water.

Instead, they invented a way to take up carbon dioxide (CO2) at night and store it as an acid. This acid is then photosynthesized to sugars and starch during the daytime when they have access to sunlight. With this pathway called the Crassulacean Acid Metabolism, the plants do only open their stomata at night and can keep them closed during the day to reduce water loss. What a clever system!

As the Encyclopedia of Biological Chemistry (2021) mentions “CAM occurs in between 5% and 10% of plants and is always associated with succulence, at least at a cellular level”. According to ECOLSTUD (Vol. 30, 1978), the most important CAM plant families are:

  • Cactaceae
  • Crassulaceae
  • Euphorbiaceae
  • Aizoaceae
  • Liliaceae (Agavaceae)
  • Epiphytic forms of Bromeliaceae
  • Epiphytic forms of Orchidaceae

Generally, this makes all types of succulents, cacti, and orchids a good fit for bedrooms along with many other semi-epiphyte or semi-succulent plant types.

Plants Suitable For Bedrooms: What Else Do You Need to Consider?

Apart from choosing CAM plant types, here are some further tips on what else you should consider for bedroom plants:

  • Light requirements: Bedrooms are often not the brightest rooms of a home. Depending on the light conditions, you need a plant with a good shade tolerance. This can be a bit contradicting with the light requirements of many succulents and cacti.
  • Non-messy plants: The bedroom is a space that should be relaxing. You don’t want your plant to create a mess in it and have you clean it up more. Hence, a plant that mostly just stays the same, is best suited.
  • Slow growth: To keep bedroom plants low maintenance, it is good if it is a slow-growing plant. This way, there is less work to do on trimming or moving the plant once it grows too big for its spot. Also, in shadier spots, most plants slow down their growth which can be a plus for bedrooms.
  • Calming looks: To keep in tune with the calm and soothing ambiance of a bedroom, the plants chosen preferably distribute a calming, soothing atmosphere, too. Very busy-looking plants might make it harder to wind down after a long, stressful day.

6 Indoor Plants That Are Good For Your Bedroom

The plant types mentioned here are very common indoor plants that you can find in probably any garden center. Obviously, there are many more plant types suitable for bedrooms. But I think it is always better to know a few common plant types that you can actually remember and buy easily instead of having heard of 30 types and one day after reading you forget about them anyways.

Hence, here are six of the most common plant types that are well-suited for your bedroom.

All plant types mentioned here are CAM plants that release oxygen at night.

Dracaena (formerly Sansevieria) trifasciata – In Tune With Feng Shui

The Dracaena trifasciata, also known as Snake Plant, is native to Western Africa where it grows in dry tropical climates on rocky grounds and in partial shade of trees on the margins of forests.

Their sword-like upright green leaves with banded patterns have a very calm and aesthetic look to them. It is one of the few plants that, according to Feng Shui principles, is a suitable addition to your bedroom as its calm ambiance does not disturb the energies of the room.

Furthermore, the Snake Plant is known to have good air-cleaning skills and as a CAM plant, it also releases oxygen at nighttime.

Another benefit of this plant is that even though it is a succulent, it does fairly well in a shadier spot. Many other succulent types need lots of bright light to survive. If your bedroom is rather dark, then this plant can be a good fit. In darker spots, it will grow much less but it can take it.

Plant Sheet: To find out more about the specific needs and traits of the Snake Plant, feel free to check out my plant sheet on the Dracaena trifasciata with a brief but informative overview of this plant type.

Hoya Plants – A Symbol For Stillness

Hoya plants, also commonly called Wax Plants or Indian Rope Plants, might not look like standard succulents at all, though their thickish leaves give us a hint about their semi-succulent cellular structure. All Hoya plants use CAM photosynthesis as well, hence they release oxygen at night.

In the images above, you can see the inflorescence and leaves of Hoya carnosa, one of the more typical Hoya houseplant types. Its flower buds are just amazing and this plant looks great wherever you put it, be it in a hanging basket, on a shelf, or climbing up any support structure you give it.

Hoya carnosa is native to Eastern Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Australia and in its natural habitat, it is a semi-epiphytic tree climber.

For many indigenous cultures, the Hoya plant symbolizes stillness, accepting our fate, and going inward. Is there a better symbol than that to place in your bedroom? Just letting go of whatever happened during that day and drifting away into sleep with the soothing sweet smell of Hoya flowers in your nose.

The only downside to Hoyas as bedroom plants can be that in darker spots, they will not produce any flowers. If your bedroom is shady, then you probably won’t get any of the beautiful flowers. Though I think that even without flowers, Hoyas look very calming and still, ideal for bedrooms.

Also, if you are very sensitive to smells, then you might not appreciate having their sweet-smelling flowers next to your bed. Hoyas are known to release the most smell at nighttime because in nature they attract nocturnal insects.

Find out more about Hoya carnosa’s specific light and water requirements in my plant sheet about it!

Aloe vera and Aloe arborescens – Beneficial Succulents

Aloe vera is only considered native to the Hajar Mountains on the Arabic Peninsula. In its natural habitat, it grows on sandy, rocky, and dry earth that contains a lot of clay and limestone.

Aloe plants are drought-resistant and water-storing superheroes: Wild Aloe vera plants can do several months without water. In desert climates, it doesn’t rain often but when it rains, it pours which allows the Aloe plant to fully replenish its water storage.

This plant loves the sun. Keep it only in your bedroom if you have a bright spot to give it. Otherwise, it will not do well.

One of the downsides of Aloe vera can be that it looks a bit busy or even defensive with its spiky leaves. According to Feng Shui principles, Aloe vera can disrupt calmer energy due to its looks.

Here is where I think the Aloe arborescens, another Aloe type that grows a stem-like structure, can come in handy. Even though it also has spiky leaves, with its stem and winding leaves, it looks a lot more playful than an Aloe vera. Also, its different shades of pastel green from the stem all the way to its tips further enhance a soothing aesthetic (see images above).

Good to Know: Even though Aloe vera is best known for the medicinal purposes of its leaf gel, the gel of Aloe arborescens leaves contains even more antiviral and antibacterial substances. The only reason why Aloe vera remains the most popular for medicinal use is because economically, it produces the highest yields.

Orchids – Zen Vibes In Your Bedroom

Most of the orchid species that are kept as indoor plants are epiphytic orchids. As opposed to terrestrial orchids that grow on forest floors and also in cooler climates, epiphytic orchids grow in all tropical climates on trees.

Their aesthetic is so calming and soothing that I think they deserve to be mentioned as one of the best plant types for bedrooms. Also, their flowers are just so rewarding because they last forever.

Maintaining orchids is very simple, too: Give them an hour-long bath every 1-2 weeks and they are happy. As they naturally grow under the canopy of trees, they do well with both indirect light and more shade, perfect for bedrooms.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana – For Love and Prosperity

The Kalachoe daigremontiana (Bryophyllum daigremontianum), also called Devil’s Tooth, Devil’s Backbone, or Alligator Plant, is another CAM plant that can do really well in bedrooms.

It grows well on dry and rocky grounds and is native to only some regions in Madagascar, though it has been introduced in many more tropical and subtropical areas of the world. By producing thousands of little plantlets for propagation on the rims of each leaf, in the wild it is a very invasive species which explains its far distribution nowadays.

The Kalanchoe plant is traditionally associated with love, persistence, and prosperity, due to its profusion of long-lasting blossoms. Although the here presented type Kalanchoe daigremontiana does not usually produce flowers as an indoor plant, I think especially the young plants have a beautiful calm aesthetic to them.

Growing Tip: I suggest planting a couple of Kalanchoe plantlets in the same pot as they are much prettier when still small. With age, they lose some of their striped patterns and change color as well. By potting several babies in one pot, you create a kind of bonsai forest of Kalanchoes. Kalanchoes are known to grow really fast and by having several plants in one pot, they grow slower as they share a small space.

Schlumbergera truncata – A Touch of Color in Winter

Schlumbergera truncata, also called Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, or Crab Cactus, is native to coastal tropical regions of mainly Brazil and some other tropical regions. It grows as an epiphyte or sometimes as a lithophyte on rocky soils.

As a cactus, it does not require too much water and as it naturally often grows in the shade of other plants, it prefers indirect light and can also do with partial shade. It is an ideal low-maintenance plant for bedrooms.

Another benefit for Schlumbergeras in bedrooms is that they are used to cooler nighttime temperatures as well as cooler temperatures in winter. As the bedroom is usually kept a little cooler than other rooms, it suits this cactus just fine.

Also, you will get beautiful flowers in the middle of winter (around Christmas, as its common name suggests) which can be a colorful, uplifting change in dark winter days. Although, if you do not want a mess in your bedroom, the Schlumbergera might not be for you because all the dry flowers will fall onto the floor or shelf (but that happens only like twice a year, so I think its worth it.

Bonus Tip: Use Dried Medicinal Plants Such as Lavender or Sage

If you don’t want any live plants in your bedroom, you can still add some natural soothing plant elements by using dried medicinal plants meant for relaxation such as sage or lavender.

Lavender has very calming and soothing effects and helps one fall asleep more easily, the same goes for sage.

You can either buy a lavender pillow or place a bundle of dried lavender or sage stems right next to your bed. Exchange the dried bundles whenever the smell has faded away.

Related Questions

What Are the Disadvantages of Plants in Your Bedroom?

There are not many disadvantages to keeping plants in bedrooms but here are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Knocking plants over: Do not put the plants so close to your bed as you risk knocking them over when searching for the light switch or mobile phone in the middle of the night. Place them at a safe distance.
  • Messy plants: Plants like the Schlumbergera with its dried flowers or other plants that grow very fast can make a mess in your bedroom. If you are not fine with that, then do not keep those plant types in your bedroom.
  • Light requirements: Many bedrooms are darker than other rooms of the flat or house. This makes it more complicated to choose a plant type that will do well in a darker environment.
  • Lowered curtains or blinds: Are you among the people who don’t bother lifting the curtains or blinds in your bedroom because you only sleep there anyways? Well, once you have plants in your bedroom, you will have to get rid of that habit to provide them with light during the day. Left in the dark, any plant will die.

Want to know more about what general downsides houseplants can have? Check out my post on what disadvantages indoor plants can have and how you best avoid these downsides!

What Counts as Direct and Indirect Light?

When choosing a plant for your bedroom, you will first ask yourself what light conditions there actually are in your bedroom. What counts as direct and what as indirect light in the first place?

Find out in my post linked here what direct and indirect lighting means and also what the plant tags tell you about light requirements when you buy a plant.

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