Beat the heat: 5 houseplants that will actually keep your home cool

5 houseplants to keep your home cool
5 houseplants that will keep your home coolAlexander Walter - Getty Images

Sometimes it feels like no amount of cooling fans or windows wide open will make a hot and stuffy house cooler. But there's an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to help keep your home cool during hot weather – and it's all down to houseplants.

According to NASA's Earth Science Study, plants can alter the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. Forest canopies produce large amounts of transpiration that increase water vapour in the atmosphere, causing more precipitation and reinforces the cooling by blocking sunlight.

Transpiration happens when the atmosphere heats up – plants will often release excess water into the air from their leaves, and by releasing evaporated water, plants cool themselves and the surrounding environment.

From palms to the mother-in-law's tongue, some plants have cooling powers that could keep temperatures down during a heatwave. With this in mind, the plant experts at have shared five top houseplants ideal for creating a cool environment indoors. Just in time for the warm weather...

1. Ficus benjamina

One of the few trees that grows well indoors, this leafy tree (which is also known as a weeping fig) helps to keep the air inside moist and cool, providing some much-needed relief from the heat for those spending time indoors.

Opt for a tall trunk with a bushy top that could serve as a little forest canopy for other plants below or around it. By grouping plants together, they create their own little atmospheric ecosystem, improving its surrounding humidity. Be sure to water regularly during the summer months and position your ficus in medium light so that it can soak up the sun, even when you're not!

Top tip: Ficus drinks more in a light spot than a shady one, so be sure to keep it watered. Position these plants in bright, indirect light or a sunny spot with afternoon shade. It enjoys being planted in containers with soil-based potting mix.

2. Ficus Elastica (Rubber Plant)

Improving the humidity in a room will have a cooling effect and this houseplant is very effective in replenishing the moisture in the air. The more foliage a plant has, and the bigger the leaves are, the more moisture it will release back into the air. This plant will take in water through its roots and then release moisture through the pores located on the underside of its leaves or fronds.

Top tip: Give it small sips of water so that the soil remains evenly damp, and place it in a light spot, but not in bright direct sunlight. They can be sensitive to dramatic temperature changes.

3. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

This is another plant well-known for its ability to purify toxins in the air, and as such, it also has a high transpiration rate that will help humidify the air around it. They are popular ornamental and decorative plants desired for their beautiful foliage.

Top Tip: Available in many attractive varieties, some have pretty variegated foliage, but the best part is its low maintenance qualities – little water and low light, so it's a perfect choice to fill a sparse area of your home with luscious greens.

4. Palms

The green leaves of palms like Areca palms, Fern palms, Livistona, Fishtail palm and Lady palm features small stomas which take in CO2 and release oxygen. The larger the leaf surface, the more oxygen it can produce. An arrangement of palms are not only lovely to look at but also creates a sort of mini indoor rainforest, so the perfect way to give your home a tropical feel all year round.

Top Tip: A weekly misting on the plants will keep them healthy and improve humidity.

5. Mother-in-law’s tongue

Just like aloe vera, the leaves of the mother-in-law's tongue (commonly known as the snake plant) have high water content, so when it transpires, it releases cool evaporated moisture into the air. It also gives off oxygen, keeping you cool during those hot summer nights. This striking succulent is also known for removing toxins from the air, such as benzene and formaldehyde.

Top tip: Mother-in-law's tongue can handle a sunny spot, so it's an ideal plant to have staged in your window. It will have a cooling effect on the room and will create some shade for other plants.

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