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Fresh Air… Indoors!

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This week we focus on improving the air quality in your home/office using indoor plants.

We’ve always known that living plants play an essential role in adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

But what about the air inside?

Air quality indoors can be far worse than outdoors, especially in our climate. We tend to keep our windows closed and recirculate air conditioning. We fill our home and offices with furniture, carpet and plastics that emit vapors into the air we breathe.

Indoor plants can help.

They not only add oxygen and remove carbon dioxide, they filter out harmful chemicals in the air. Their foliage purifies the air and removes toxins from household paints, chemicals and plastics. They have a lot of surface area which helps to filter dust out and improve air quality. Formaldehyde is the biggest indoor pollutant. Did you know that the Boston Fern is among the best plants for removing formaldehyde? Other harmful vapors include benzene, acetone, ammonia, and VOCs to name a few.

Here is a list of some of plants that are easy to grow and care for in the home/office while working 24/7 to keep your indoor air clean.

Drumroll Please…

Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)

Peace lily, also known as white sails, has dark green leaves and produces white flowers, or spathes, surrounding a creamy white spadix.  Voted the No. 1 desk plant in 2007 because of its ability to refresh the air.

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum “Vittatum”)

Also known as the airplane plant, this houseplant has striking narrow leaves with white stripes. Prefers bright light and when happy will produce shoots that bloom with tiny white flowers followed by airborne plantlets. These plantlets can be easily rooted to make more plants!

Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta)

Formerly known as Ficus elastica, the rubber plant was very popular in Victorian times. I remember it was a topic of discussion in one of my favorite movies “Life with Father” starring William Powell, Irene Dunne and a very young Elizabeth Taylor. It has thick dark green leaves and is easy to care for. Avoid overwatering.

Golden pothos (Scindapsus aureus)

Goldon pothos, or devil’s ivy, is an easy-care vining plant that will grow in any light. Best not in full direct sun or darkness.

‘Janet Craig’ dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’)

Commonly called green corn plant, this low maintenance dracaena is available in bush, cane form or as a braided tree. Commonly seen in atriums and offices.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria spp.)

Snake plant, aka mother-in-law’s tongue, is an easy to grow succulents. It’s mottled foliage resembles a snakes skin.

Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema spp.)

Chinese evergreens come in solid green or variegated varieties. They are easy to care for, slow growing and usually long-lived.

Boston fern  (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”)

Ferns are one of the old groups of plants. Of the plants tested, this fern is the best for removing formaldehyde. Requires frequent misting and watering. Moderate to bright light.

Schefflera (Brassaia actinophylla)

Commonly known as the umbrella tree, this plant gets tall (8-10 ft) indoors. Excellent for novice indoor gardener. Low maintenance.

Ficus Alii (Ficus macleilandii “Alii”)

Long slender dark green leaves. It is more tolerant of being moved that Ficus benjamina

Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior)

This extremely low-care plant can be grown in a container indoors or out and in shady garden beds. (I was surprised to see this on the list. I have quite a few in my garden, so now I am tempted to pot up a few and bring them indoors.)

Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus)

Handsome vertical plant that needs moderate to bright indirect light and a drink of water every five to seven days. It will form a large rosette with wide light green leaves.

China doll (Radermachera sinica)

The glossy, delicate foliage of this bushy plant holds up remarkably well under bright office lights. Keep it evenly moist.

Ivy (Hedera helix)

Ivy is attractive and easy to grow indoors. Lots of varieties to choose from. All tolerate indirect to medium light. Avoid overwatering.

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

The fleshy 2- to 3-foot stems of this striking plant are lined with alternating glossy, dark-green leaves. The perfect plant! Looks good and thrives in low light and very little care!

Where can you find these plants?

At Buchanan’s… naturally. Come on in and visit the greenhouse and fill your wagon with healthy, beautiful plants that will have your home or office’s air squeaky clean in no time.

If you have pets, please be aware that some houseplants are poisonous or toxic to dogs and cats. The ASPCA has a helpful page regarding houseplants.


Houston Chronicle, Kathy Huber post 10 Best Indoor Plants
How to Grow Fresh Air 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home by D. B.C. Wolverton, Paperback, Penguin Books

Jackie D'Elia is a freelance garden writer, photographer and organic gardener. She earned a BS in Horticulture from Texas A&M and blogs about her garden antics at Southern Post Journal. Follow her on Twitter @JDElia.

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