Do you want an air purifier that needs no plug-in power to do its job? If so, then houseplants are the ultimate in green technology, since they’re solar powered.
These leafy dynamos are pros at sucking in some pretty nasty stuff and spouting fresh, clean air.
Of course an air purifier works, too, but they do cost money to run and definitely aren’t as pretty to look at as a houseplant. All you need with a plant is some decent soil, a bit of plant food, sunshine and water. Heck, you can even name them. My friend’s Bruce the Spruce did double duty by helping decorate for the holidays and adding a bit of life to her living room.
Plants are also a nice addition to the office, offering a bit of respite from fluorescent lighting and blah cubicle walls. (And they do grow fine in the office, trust me, just don’t water them with fruit juice or anything more exotic than water or you’ll get some extra life in the office, buzzing around your head).
But back to the work plants do: They pull in carbon dioxide that we breathe out and expel oxygen and water, thereby adding a bit of humidity to the air, especially during the dry winter months when it’s especially welcome. Besides their waste, oxygen, being a byproduct you want to have around, they also absorb all kinds of nasty pollutants from plastics, dry-cleaning solvents, drapery, upholstery and more.
So we know plants can do a bang-up cleaning job of the air around us, but which ones are the best to have around? Spider plants are one excellent helper: They’re easy to find and even easier to grow. And if you want to propagate more little spideys, just pluck the dangling babies that grow on the long stems, submerge the roots in water, and in a few weeks you’ll have offspring ready to plant.
English ivy and Boston ferns are also great purifiers, especially for sucking in formaldehyde and releasing oxygen. Palm trees are also hard workers, and tend to not need a lot of care. A sunny window, feedings and waterings in a good soil and a little 6-inch palm can grow up nice (just don’t hold your breath for one to grow to the ceiling: Buy bigger if you want to go in that direction).
If you want some color, or at least some flowers, to cheer the room and clear the air, there are options as well. Kalanchoes, chrysanthemums and Gerbera daisies come in a variety of colors: Yellows, pinks, oranges, purples and reds. For simple elegance and toxin-leaching ability – think acetone, benzene and formaldehyde, for starters – the beautiful peace lily, with its dark glossy leaves and white flowers, is beautiful and effective. They’re definitely more than a pretty face.
One thing to consider with plants and air purification, though, is whether they are safe for children or pets to eat. The peace lily isn’t a good snack for kids or for Fido, so put it out of reach of little ones. Palm trees and spider plants tend not to be problematic: My cats munch on palms when they can find a way up to them, and well, they’re 15, 8 and 3.
Most plants don’t need a lot of fuss. Ask at a garden center, where they tend have pros on hand, or research online, to find out which plants might be more to your liking. Again, though, usually regular waterings (just be careful not to overwater), good soil, the right amount of light, and feedings at prescribed times will make your indoor garden grow and make the air so much better to breathe in.