A while back, NASA found that common houseplants help fight indoor pollution. NASA had been researching ways to keep the atmosphere in space stations clean and inhabitable for humans, and in the process found something that can be used here on Earth to keep our own habitats cleaner and more breath-friendly. Some indoor plants and blooming potted plants are able to take harmful gases from the air, and render them harmless through their own processes of photosynthesis and respiration.
We already know that plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen during photosynthesis. This process is one reason why it’s so important to practice sustainable forestry. It’s also been found that many houseplants can process benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde and break them into harmless byproducts. Probably most houseplants can do this; but some are better at it than others, though. And not all plants work equally well on all harmful gases. But still, the news is good. Not only do houseplants beautify your home, they make it healthier.
Many new homes and offices are constructed mostly of man-made materials and use synthetic carpets, fabrics, wallpapers, etc. These are all known to spew pollutants into the indoor atmosphere in a process called “off-gassing”. Because new homes and offices are so airtight for energy-savings, these gases escape less readily to the outside. The liberal use of houseplants can help to remedy the situation (as can opening the windows on a warm, breezy day).
In order to effectively help clean your air with houseplants, you will need about one good-sized plant per 100 square feet. So if your home is 1,800 square feet, you need about 18 plants. These should be in pots at least six to eight inches wide. The list of plants that do the best jobs of fighting indoor air pollution is fairly eclectic, and this is great because it offers a nice variety. Let’s take a look:
• Weeping Fig
• English Ivy
• Spider Plant
• Peace Lily
• Snake Plant
• Philodendrons (heartleaf, selloum, elephant ear)
• Golden Pothos
• Chinese Evergreen
• Dracaena (red-edged, cornstalk, Janet Craig, Wameck)
All of these plants are fairly easy to care for. Water your plants with de-chlorinated water according to the directions that come with them, usually when the top of the soil feels dry. Most of these plants do well in filtered light, meaning that you don’t have to have them in the brightest, sunniest windows in your home or office. As long as they get indirect light, they will be happy. Fertilize once a month with a good homemade fertilizer (plants love a bit of apple vinegar or coffee water mixed in with their water every now and then). You can find recipes online and in gardening books.
Plants add beauty and connection to nature to your home or office, and they also offer better health in the way of making the air you breath more breathable. Give a home to some houseplants today and you’ll be giving yourself a gift.