March 1, 2012

Houseplants - Improve Your Indoor Air Quality With Easy to Grow Plants

Although I'm fortunate to have a yard I can experiment in with my plants and gardening, I wasn't always so lucky.  My first forays into growing plants were houseplants.  After reading a bit more, I've learned that houseplants can help to improve the air quality in a home, and provide other benefits as well.

If you've shopped for houseplants at a Home Depot or Lowe's you've probably noticed that many of the tags will note that "NASA recommends having houseplants to improve air quality at your home" or something to that effect.  Reading this was enough to convince me to buy a few plants, but I'm a pretty easy sell when it comes to plants anyway.  I got to wondering what exactly NASA did have to say about houseplants.  It didn't seem like the typical study subject for an institution trying to find E.T.

I did find the NASA study and it's an interesting read although it's not very recent, from 1989.  Basically they tested the ability of houseplants to filter out common toxins found in homes (formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene).  They tested a number of common houseplants including bamboo palm, english ivy, ficus, gerbera daisy, and others.  The study recommends using activated carbon filters with houseplants to maximize the detoxifying effect that plants can bring to a home and has a number of graphs showing the absorption rates of the different plants tested.

Although I haven't installed carbon filters yet, I do have a number of plants around the house and think the make a real difference in the quality of the air.  A couple of very easy to grow plants I would recommend to anyone (and that grow in nearly any sunlight conditions) are:
I have had these plants for a number of years and have had great success with keeping them alive and healthy.  I consider being able to keep a plant alive a big victory so I tend to gravitate towards the 'easy care' section of nurseries.

Bayer (the headache medicine maker) also recommends having houseplants to help ease breathing, improve air quality, improve personal health, and improve attentiveness.  I think a trailing philodendron adds a nice aesthetic touch to a room too.

Suggested action steps:

  1. Add a couple of houseplants to your apartment, condo, townhouse, or house
  2. Surprise your significant other with a gift of a living plant rather than cut flowers.  It'll last longer so you'll reap the rewards of your thoughtfulness longer too. :)

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