5 Houseplants That Do Double Duty

Sure, houseplants are pretty. But for those of us who weren’t born with a green thumb, pretty isn’t always a very strong incentive to bring a new victim home, not when things can turn brown and crunchy with just a couple weeks’ neglect.

Plants that can earn their keep, though—those are a completely different story. Here are 5 that are worth the extra effort to keep alive.

Aloe vera

Aloe-Vera-essbarYou’re probably familiar with aloe in one form or another—it’s often used in skincare and other pharmaceuticals, and has been for thousands of years.

The plant it comes from is a succulent and does well indoors. By making a small cut in a leaf, you can squeeze out a gel that helps sooth burns and small cuts. Aloe plants like sandy, well-drained soil and lots of sun.


There are all sorts of varieties of mint, and most of them are easy to grow (and to keep alive). Depending on the variety you choose to grow, you can used the leaves in cooking and baking, or make tea. Most mints like partial shade and plenty of water, plus they grow year round.


lavenderNot only does lavender look nice inside, but it smells wonderful. The scent has also been known to reduce anxiety, encourage sleep, and repel insects. Of all the varieties, French lavender is best suited to indoor living.

It will need good drainage and lots of sun, to the point where you may have to move your plant outside for a short period to encourage blooms.

Spider plant

Thanks to the fact that they thrive in all sorts of conditions, spider plants are already a popular house plant, but they do have one benefit you may not be aware of: they’re especially good at reducing indoor air pollution.

Mother-in-law’s tongue

snake plantSpider plants aren’t your thing? Try mother-in-law’s tongue, also called a snake plant or Saint George’s sword. These are also air-filtering champs, but deliver a much different look—they have long, straight leaves and can grow as tall as three feet.

They’re also very forgiving plants. They don’t mind low light and need to be watered infrequently.

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