You may already be moving to a more energy-efficient lifestyle. What you might not know, however, is some upgrades can have a negative effect on your family’s health. A new trend of sustainable buildings, for example, has led to a tight seal on airflow in and out of most new or updated homes. This usually means stale air.
The good news? Nature may have the solution. For four decades, researchers at NASA have been working to identify the best indoor plants by how many toxins they naturally absorb from our home and office spaces.
Benefits of Indoor Plants
When homes and offices are built, many synthetic materials are used that, over time, give off low levels of chemical gasses—many of which are “volatile” with respect to your body’s response to them.
According to the EPA, a home’s carpets, paint, adhesives, furniture, and upholstery all give off volatile organic compounds, or “VOCs,” which contribute to sick building syndrome and other building-related illnesses. Thankfully, the earth’s ecosystem has been cleaning volatile compounds for a long time. Nature is an expert, so to speak, in removing hazardous elements so we don’t have to. How? Leafy plants.
When plants “breathe,” they take in much of the unpleasant chemicals that can make us sick. In exchange, they offer a continuous supply of pure, rich oxygen. In a twenty-four-hour period, up to 87 percent of the pollutants in a home can be exchanged for clean air by some houseplants.
Best Air Purifiers
According to NASA, indoor plants’ effectiveness varies when it comes to cleaning indoor air. Some plants remove formaldehyde whereas others get rid of benzene. Many even nix both. So which plants are best for going green and tackling toxins? The best indoor plants for cleaning air are:
- Gerbera Daisies.
- Pot Mums.
- Bamboo Palms.
- English Ivy.
These plants can eradicate most of a home’s toxins within hours, but they’re not always easy to care for. Because my green thumb is still in development, I trust myself to plants that are well known for cleaning indoor air but still offer grace if I forget to water them.
Green It Yourself
Last year, my family jumped on the bandwagon, replacing our windows to save energy. Heating and cooling costs went down dramatically, but we had to venture outdoors for fresh air.
I knew my neighbor enjoyed tending her houseplants, so on one visit I complimented her on them, adding that our newly sealed home would need some house plants soon as well. “Take some of mine,” she said, grabbing a vase. In no time, we split a philodendron and snipped a half-dozen baby spider plants from one of her mature “parent” plants.
Want to populate your home with a few of nature’s best air purifiers? It’s tough to know where to start, but you can take numerous steps to put the right fresh plant in each room.
Finding Your ‘Babies’
It’s often best to draw your first plants from an existing growth—spider plants or philodendrons, for instance, as these will root quickly and easily. Fill a few flower pots with a quality potting soil, so these new plants will start their new life with all the nutrients they’ll need. Dig a hole in the center of each pot, readying the soil to receive its new plant. If you have children, they’ll enjoy helping you with this step.
Locate one of the spider plant’s “babies.” These are cute little plants that look like miniature versions of the parent plant. The babies are attached to the ends of the long leaves of the spider plant, and if you look closely, you can see they already have root systems growing.
Planting in Soil
Snip the baby off just above its point of attachment. From here, plant your new baby spider plant into the hole you created in the potting soil.
Another easy-to-propagate plant is philodendron. These plants don’t have “babies,” but they do have long vines that can be cut and re-rooted. Prepare your potted soil the same way you did with the spider plant, and snip the longest creeper.
Once cut, the vine is ready to re-plant in your new pot of fresh soil. Fill in any loose area with extra dirt, and gently press around the new “stem” to be sure it’s stable before watering.
How do you currently purify your home’s air? Share your stories in the comments below, or tweet pictures of your plant starts to @TomsofMaine and @thanybethanybe.
Image source: Bethany Johnson
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.