Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Want cleaner air? Get one of these!

I often get the winter blues, or "seasonal affective disorder" as the medical community call it. This year, I wanted to be prepared so I went to buy a small house plant, thinking bringing green into my home might help alleviate some of that drab "dead" feeling. It turns out that house plants, are in a weird way, incredibly addictive. I first picked up a peace lily or "spathiphyllum" and a curly bird's nest fern (or lasagna fern). I brought them home and put them strategically in the living and dining rooms to lighten our home. We already had 6 stalks of bamboo, split into two vases in our living room, so now I was up to 4 plants. But while I was at the flower store, I found a ficus I really loved, so for Valentine's day, Phil got me flowers and a ficus. Then I went and bought an aloe plant in case someone gets burned, and for St. Patrick's Day, Phil bought me a shamrock plant. I also found another baby sized peace lily for the upstairs, and we started our herb planter box. I went from having a few lucky bamboos to having 9 different things to water throughout the house.

It turns out, that having a mini forest in our home, really does liven it up more. And as I did some reading, it does even more than that! NASA came out with a study naming the top 10 house plants that help reduce indoor air pollution. Here is an article with more information. It turns out, that our homes have more than just our hearts in them. Formaldahyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide often lurk in our houses, and certain house plants are very good at filtering those toxins out.

The top ten house plants listed in the study are:
Bamboo Palm – Chamaedorea Seifritzii
Chinese Evergreen - Aglaonema Modestum
English Ivy Hedera Helix
Gerbera Daisy Gerbera Jamesonii
Janet Craig - Dracaena “Janet Craig”
Marginata - Dracaena Marginata
Mass cane/Corn Plant - Dracaena Massangeana
Mother-in-Law’s Tongue Sansevieria Laurentii
Pot Mum – Chrysantheium morifolium
Peace Lily - Spathiphyllum
Warneckii - Dracaena “Warneckii”

If possible, I highly recommend bringing a bit of nature into your home and helping remove the toxins we breathe. Plant Care Guru is a wonderful place to start gathering information on how to care for your plants. Most plants require water and access to light. Some plants, such as the peace lily, require very little light, whereas an aloe plant requires high amounts of light. It is often as simple as that, although some plants to require other things. The ficus, for example, does not like to be near drafts (i.e. air vents) or in a place where temperature changes frequently (right in front of a window). Some plants require the dead flowers to be pruned off, but this is suprisingly simple. All house plants need to be repotted every 3 years, and my recommendation is to re pot the plants as soon as you purchase them. We have bought plants from "Phillips flowers" which is a high end flower shop, Home Depot, and Jewel (a grocery store). I ended up re potting all of these plants because I wanted to change their pots to match each other and my decor. EVERY single plant was already needing to be repotted. The roots had no where else to go and were growing in circles around the pot.

For a variety of reasons, house plants are a wonderful asset. They do not have to cost a lot of money, and plants, much like people have a variety of personalities. You can use one to fill up an empty space, clean your air, brighten your mood, or add a little color to your decor. Whatever your reasoning, go buy a house plant! :)

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