By Cindy King, CPH, The Mill
Many people not only enjoy plants outside but include them in their indoor décor. Plants remove toxins in our air such as formaldehyde, benzine, xylene and ammonia. These are all by-products of cleaning solutions, plastics, synthetic materials, aerosol sprays, varnishes, paints, and other products. Plants are all engineered to take in atmospheric carbon dioxide and with light and water convert it to sugars to feed. The by-product of this process is oxygen which we require to live and remain healthy. Plants release 10 times more oxygen during the day then they consume at night. With these troubling times and having quarantined, the air quality in our closed-up homes becomes more polluted with these damaging toxins. Detoxifying your air is something all plants indoor and out do as they breathe. Nasa recommends that having two or three 8-inch plants per 100 square feet inside your residence will help keep your air safer.
Houseplants are just like outdoor plants and each can handle situations better than others. All plants produce oxygen, and the larger leaved plants will produce more but they often are harder to maintain. If you are worried about your pets having adverse reactions to plants, we would ask you to review the ASPCA Houseplant Recommendations. There is a comprehensive list of almost all houseplants and their side effects but keep in mind the amount that they must consume in many cases is not something they would do.
So, which ones are best for your house? If you have a sunny warm location try Aloe, Jade, Euphorbia trigona or Milk Tree, Sago Palm, Papyrus, Croton, and Ponytail Palm. All of these can handle warm dryer air and sun with little care. In the shaded room that is cooler try Dracaena, Aspidistra, Jade, Kentia Palm, Rhaphis excelsa or Lady Palm and Sansevieria or snake plant. For fragrance either from flower or brushing foliage try Jasmine, Mint, Eucalyptus, Gardenia, and Rosemary. In the humid bathroom try Ferns, Tillandsia, Bromeliads, and Orchids if light is good. In bedrooms try Pothos, Dracaena, Sansevieria, and Aloe. For hanging pots and or cascading plants try Pothos, Philodendron, Peperomia, Senecio, Chlorophytum, and Tradescantia. Match plant with location as each of these prefer something different. Finally, if you want an indoor plant that flowers try Orchids, African Violets, Begonias, Kalanchoe, Cyclamen, Jasmine, Gardenia, Gerbera, and Chrysanthemum. Again, match the plant you want with the environment in house.
One other interesting point is that there are around7% of plants that breath using the Crassulacean Acid Metabolism or CAM meaning they remove CO2 at night and therefore release more oxygen at night. These are best placed in your bedroom for higher oxygen levels during evening hours. These plants are mainly all epiphytes which are plants that live in arid conditions using other plants for support and derive nutrition from air and moisture. These include Bromeliads, most Orchids, Tillandsia or Air Plants, many ferns, Mosses, Agave, Aloe, and many Cacti. These all have the capability of storing water in their roots, leaves, and tissues.
There are many plants that can assist with cleansing the air in your residence. Growing fresh herbs in or close to your kitchen is beneficial as well as having Poinsettias, Christmas Cactus,
and forced bulbs for the holiday season. Terrariums are another way to display tiny houseplants and are especially fun for children as they can observe how the plants grow.
Terrariums are making a comeback as you can start small and if the plants outgrow the terrarium or become overbearing you can re-pot into larger containers. This way you are growing your own houseplants. Some houseplants are passed from generation to generation like African Violets. I still have my grandmother’s plant or at least a plant that came from hers. Taking cuttings and rooting to share with friends and family is fun and offers you the ability to grow something during the off months.
Have fun and keep enough houseplants to keep your home healthy.
According to the drought report published in June 2021 by NOAA, many areas of the Mid-Atlantic are having above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall. The soil across the region is becoming very dry after a wet winter and spring.
If you want to maintain the health of your plants you should consider watering prior to stressing the plant by allowing it to wilt and throw leaves.