Even as parts of the country continue to dig out of snow and ice, I’ve been treated to unseasonable high 70s and low 80s. So, what’s a girl to do on a day off? Plant flowers! I’m not an overly proficient “green thumb” and I leave the beds and gardens to a professional, but I do enjoy some potted plants on the porch and patio. They bring color, life, and even a little joy to outdoor spaces and I love seeing them. But, did you know plants also bring life and much more inside your home?
Just being near a plant can actually result in many benefits, including increased health, a reduction in headaches and coughs, more energy, reduced allergy symptoms, faster recovery and healing following an illness, reduced stress and anxiety, increased creativity, and an overall feeling of happiness. Really? Really!
It’s all true, and we have NASA and other experts to thank for this great info. When NASA employees recently researched ways to clean the air in space stations, they learned that certain plants are great at doing so. In fact, they found that live plants can actually remove mold and toxins from the air and filter out common toxins and pollutants found in space stations and homes everywhere.
This is not only good news, it’s great news, as the Environmental Protection Agency estimates the inside of our homes are often more polluted than the outsides. This is due to toxins released from household cleaners, synthetic fabrics, and plastic products as well as the toxins we produce when we cook. Cooking and cleaning it seems, can cook up some very unclean household pollutants!
What to do? Yes, you can choose environmentally friendly and organic cleaning products but you are still going to bring toxins into your house through your shoes and any items you bring into them. Your best bet say many experts is to have numerous houseplants scattered throughout your home. It’s actually recommended you use at least 15 air-cleaning plants every 600 square meters. Some of the most effective include:
Peace Lily. Often considered one of the most effective choices, this hearty and white-flowering lily removes chemicals like formaldehyde and trichloroethylene; benzene, a common household chemical and known carcinogen; and mold spores in the air. They also purify the air of trichloroethylene, a chemical found in cleaners and solvents, and they remove alcohols and acetone in the air.
Philodendron . Noted by NASA among the best types of houseplants for removing especially higher concentrations formaldehyde.
Aloe Vera. These succulents not only relieve burns, they release and produce oxygen, and have earned the nickname “oxygen bomb.”
Spider Plants. Said to absorb toxins, gasoline, formaldehyde, styrene, and carbon monoxide, Spider Plants are among NASA’s top 3 types of houseplants. It is said one Spider Plant cleanses 200 square meters, “exhale” oxygen overnight, and remove carbon monoxide and other toxins or impurities.
Estragon/Tarragon. Thought to remove 60 percent of air toxins and 50 percent of feces particles within six hours, the plant also releases oxygen during the night, making it a great bedroom plant.
Florist’s Mum. The chrysanthemum got its name from the Greek words for “gold” and “flower,” the “gold” coming from the mystical healing powers the flower. Very effective at removing benzene, a cancer-causing carcinogen associated with chemicals, plastics, cigarettes and off-gassing; mums also remove trichloroethylene found in solvents and cleaners, formaldehyde, and ammonia. And Texans think they’re only for football Homecoming celebrations!
Ficus Tree/Weeping Fig. Said to be overall great air purifiers, these trees not only do good things but look good in a room.
Gerbera Daisies. These bright, multi-color, flowering plants are effective at removing trichloroethylene, which you may bring home with your dry cleaning, and are also good for filtering out the benzene found in many household inks. NASA says they also absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen overnight, which is said to improve your sleep. They make the perfect pick-me-up plants for bedrooms and laundry rooms.
Golden Pothos. NASA places this plant among the top 3 types of houseplants great for removing formaldehyde. Also known for removing carbon monoxide and increasing general indoor air quality.
Boston Fern. Act as humidifiers and help restore moisture in the air, making them the perfect plant for those who suffer from dry skin and other cold weather problems. Plus they are so full and pretty!
Queen Fern. Known to clean out and eliminate formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene you may have hiding in your home.
Moth Orchid. Said to remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and formaldehyde commonly off-gassed from paints, solvents, and other synthetic materials, orchids may be considered by many “hard to grow,” but they are oh-so-pretty. I like putting one in my shower!
Bamboo Palm or Reed Palm. According to NASA, these stately palms remove formaldehyde and also act as natural humidifiers.
Rubber Plant. This trusty houseplant cleans the air by emitting high oxygen content and it also purifies indoor air by removing chemicals like formaldehyde.
English Ivy. Known for removing the chemical benzene, a known carcinogen found in cigarette smoke, detergents, pesticides, and the off-gassing of other synthetic materials; English Ivy is also said to be fantastic for asthma and allergies.
Snake Plant. Found by NASA to absorb toxins such as nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde, the Snake Plant is not only gorgeously multi-green in color, it requires minimal watering.
Although these and other plants are great for purifying your home’s air quality and removing toxins from it, they may not be for everyone. Some may cause an allergic reaction to handlers, while several are considered potentially poisonous to kids and plants. Be sure to check any and all precautions before purchasing a plant for your home. In addition, be honest about your commitment to a plant and choose wisely. Travel a lot or not good at tending to a plant? Go for those that are easy to grow and maintain.
Not only do live plants add a level of cleanliness to your home, they add a feeling of the outdoors and nature too. Enhancing your living space with a botanical style is something Interior Stylist and best-selling author Selina Lake specializes in. Lake never shies away from placing a bold plant somewhere or implementing a leafy designed wallpaper or fabric in her unique way of mastering bringing the outdoors in. It’s a design element popular from coast-to-coast and in all architectural styles.
Mimicking nature is a fabulous way of giving a room an organic and truly alive feeling. When starting out, be sure to mix shapes, sizes, and kinds of plants in addition to different types of greenery. This will add both a surprise element as well as texture. Make a grouping of multiple plants for a fun centerpiece, find a spot for a large potted tree, and even consider cut branches and berries from the outdoors.
Fiddleleaf Figs are especially popular décor items as their violin-shaped leaves lend a visual interest to any space and they are also very low-maintenance. Another easy-to-care-for plant is the Philodendron mentioned above. Their heart-shaped leaves and trailing stems are designer favorites and the fact that they can survive in even the lowest of light make them a “go to” for all habitats and climates.
But don’t limit your plant plans to your home. Researchers in the U.K. and the Netherlands found that employees who had live plants on their desks, or at least in view from them, had higher levels of concentration and performed tasks faster and more accurately than their plant-free counterparts. And you don’t need a large tree to do the trick. In fact, a small container of peppermint is a great choice as its invigorating scent is said to increase alertness. Plus, who doesn’t love peppermint?!
So the next time you’re looking for that unique décor item, skip the pillows and knick-knacks and head to the plant aisle. You’ll be glad…and maybe ever healthier…you did!